Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Reelection of Barack Hussein Obama (and Other Observations)

Before I get too far into this exercise of schadenfreude, I have a brief confession to all those who have wondered where I have gone in the political world - for some time now, I have developed a strong sense that I am a jinx, as far as politics go.  The only candidate who I volunteered for, worked for*, or gave money to, and still won was Barack Obama in 2008.  And then I gave money because I despised Sarah Palin's acceptance speech at the RNC.  Every other candidate (and there have been over ten at this point), has lost.  So, while some of my lack of participation was due to the typical things in life - job, girlfriend, dog, etc. - I also desperately wanted to avoid jinxing anything or anyone.  Also, I'm pretty sure that as a jinx, I have to want the candidate to win, so no volunteering for Carl DeMaio or Mitt Romney.

I mention my belief that I'm a jinx so that you can understand how I felt in the days leading this this election - I was terrified.  After all, I strongly supported Barack Obama, hated Mitt Romney, and wrote blog posts about the election. What if my blogging jinxed Obama?  What if I jinxed Bob Filner with my posts on  Okay, that's really true, I wasn't worried about jinxing Filner.  But I was terrified about Obama.  Oh, when it comes to politics, I am very superstitious.

Politics, particularly American politics, is an amalgam of sport and policy.  Not only do you root for your team, but winning and losing has real consequences.  Obama will most likely nominate at least one more Supreme Court Justice, and will oversee the implementation of the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare).  The Democrats who are buoyed today, and the Republicans who are depressed today have some reason to feel the way they do (though Obama is a lot more moderate than the Republicans think). Add in the intimacy of Twitter, and politics can get very, very personal.

My own nightmare scenarios included, among other thoughts - the election coming down to New Jersey, and the only voters in New Jersey who could vote because of Sandy were Republicans.  Mother Jones' election coverage, which included a vote machine in Pennsylvania that only recorded Romney votes, and long lines at polling places wasn't exactly helping my paranoia.  The only thing to prevent my panic was Nate Silver's excellent blog.

And let me say that Nate Silver and all the other poll aggregators did have a small role to play in Obama's win.  After the first debate disaster, Democrats like me were dispirited, or like Andrew Sullivan, outright panicked.  In politics, as with war, panic is a death knell.  From ancient times, the first army to break, or flee lost, and lost horribly.  Politics is no different, and if Democrats thought Obama was going down, they wouldn't have shown up at the polls, and it would have been 2010 all over again.  Instead, we had Nate Silver telling us that everything was going to work out.  And he was right.  Which lead to my favorite moment of the night:

When I first contemplated the video (after enjoying the schadenfreude), I thought that Karl Rove anticipated that the Democrats would panic, that we wouldn't show up, and that it would be 2010.  But now, I think that Rove just doesn't understand the numbers anymore.  The electorate has changed from being 85% white (to now just 72% white), with more and more Hispanics/Latinos voting, with Asians becoming a strong constituency for the Democrats (they used to be Republican-leaning), and young voters going overwhelmingly Democratic.

The other thing that has always amazed me is that the Republican Party has a completely different perception of Barack Obama.  The birther thing, the anti-colonialist thing, and all the crazy conspiracy theories about Obama completely miss the point of who Obama is - a shockingly normal man.  As Chris Rock noted:

Yeah, he's black, and yes, his middle name is Hussein, but Obama is, in his private life, incredibly normal.  Romney, on the other hand, was far from normal - his attempts at normal behavior were creepy and weird.  Now, in part, I think that was Romney being the salesman, trying to sell himself as being more conservative (on economic issues), than he actually is.

With that said, Romney wasn't a total disaster.  As candidates go, he looked good on television, could speak clearly (no Bushisms), didn't appear to cheat on his wife, and was reasonably intelligent.  Romney is a B level candidate.   Given that the rest of the Republican field were absolute disasters, Romney really was the best the Republicans could put up.  In 2016, I suspect that the various Governors will fight it out.  I, for one, am absolutely terrified of Brian Sandoval. 

That said, the GOP during the primaries was so conservative, that even a good candidate wouldn't have had any wiggle room.  Rick Perry, for instance, was viciously attacked because he wasn't a total asshole to immigrants, which in turn, turned off Latino voters.  

The other thing that caught my ear was that during the RNC, there was talk about preserving job creators and protecting the entrepreneurial class.  While that has always been part of the GOP platform, guys like Reagan and Bush would talk about expanding the entrepreneurial class.  The message being - don't tax the rich, because you might just be rich someday.  But this time around, the hope was gone.  You don't win elections that way.  

*The term work is loosely defined, as the author was paid a pittance in these "jobs."

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