A Forum for Opinions on News, Politics, and Life
November 7th, 2012
By Dan Miller
It should have gone the other way but didn’t. There are reasons for that. We could have exercised more control than we did over some but the most important of them were no longer in our hands.
It was a terrible night and I either drank too much or too little. Whichever it was, it didn’t help. Deluded fool that I am, my hope that the results would be different became a belief that they would. What could have helped would have been to have had less faith that the people of the United States had already learned about and understood the direction in which the current domestic and foreign policies have been leading us and would insist that they be changed. Less of that faith would have lessened my shock but not my disappointment. I guess we “earned” what we got. One blogger wrote,
I am embarrassed to be an American today where so many people are oblivious to the damage being done to the fabric of our country and who voted for four more years of his destruction.
Me too, but I am less certain than ever before that I even am “an American.” I no longer know what that means, but if it means what it seems to mean today maybe I don’t even want to be one now. This has not been a good day to think about it but I can’t seem to get the question to leave me in peace. I still have hopes, but they have become blurred.
It is said that America is doomed beyond all hope of redemption. I hope not and won’t yet concede that she is, even though I haven’t yet found many reasons for hope. Jonah Goldberg wrote today at National Review on Line,
My only real counsel for the moment is against despair (see: “How to take a beating”). I hear lots of people saying they’re done with politics. I understand the impulse. But that way lies ruin. Despair is the gateway drug to cynicism and Nockian indifference. Our problems are too great and our cause too just for that. There is time to take a timeout and have a drink (or 50). But it’s worth remembering that the cause is lost only if you leave it and choose to never find it again. “Never despair,” Edmund Burke allegedly said, “but if you do, work in despair.” I don’t know that Burke actually said that, but whoever did was right.
Well, maybe. But not yet. Not today.
What happened and why
The “ethical” media did what it had been doing.
Those who look to the Government to meet their needs also did what they had been doing. There are just many more of them now and as they proliferate with free stuff from the Government their desires seem likely to dominate us for many years.
♦ The “women’s rights” issue, which should have been a non-issue, became the perhaps most powerful issue of all. It should have been a political non-issue because aside from free stuff compelling both men and women to demand more and better free stuff, abortion rights are not within the power of a President to affect substantially.
I have seen different analyses of the way men and women voted, including one from Huff and Puff commenting on CNN exit polls purporting to show that women supported President Obama by 55% and only 44% supported Governor Romney; men supported Governor Romney by 52% and President Obama by 45%. Fox exit polls purport to show that
Women, a traditional Democratic voting group, backed Obama by 11 points — about the same as by 13 points in 2008. Even so, married women backed Romney by 7 points (an improvement from McCain’s +3 showing).
Why the married – single disparity?
Men backed Romney (52-45 percent), and married men backed him by an even wider margin (60-38 percent).
Do those numbers show more differences in voting as between men and women than what really happened? I don’t know, but those numbers make a powerful statement even though based on exit polls, the results of which are dependent upon many different factors.
Is it principally about “free stuff?” John Hinderaker wrote today at Power Line,
relatively few Americans actually pay for the government they consume. To a greater extent than any other developed nation, we rely on upper-income people to finance our federal government. When that is combined with the fact that around 40% of our federal spending isn’t paid for at all–it is borrowed–it is small wonder that many self-interested voters are happy to vote themselves more government. Mitt Romney proclaimed that Barack Obama was the candidate of “free stuff,” and voters took him at his word.
I don’t know whether it’s mainly about free stuff, but it seems to be and it is very difficult to beat Santa Claus — even a Santa Claus long on promises and short on fulfilling them. El President Chávez in Venezuela was reelected in large part because of the culture of dependence on Government Chavismo has created — although it provided those dependent upon it little free stuff and many promises. Perhaps his promises were enough. President Obama seems to be doing quite well in exploiting a similar culture of dependence.
Victor Davis Hanson, in my view the brightest of the very best, wrote today at National Review Online,
Some are terrified that we are witnessing the final establishment of the long-feared dependency majority, where half the country is not paying federal income taxes and are on the receiving end of government largess and expect “them” to pay their fair share to pay for it; …
We have never quite had the present perfect storm of nearly half not paying federal income taxes, nearly 50 million on food stamps, and almost half the population on some sort of federal largess — and a sophistic elite that promotes it and at the same time finds ways to be exempt from its social and cultural consequences. For an Obama, Biden, Kerry, Pelosi, or Feinstein, the psychological cost for living like 18th-century French royalty is the promotion of the welfare state for millions of others who for now will be kept far away, in places like Bakersfield or Mendota. The solution, I fear, may be near-insolvency along the Wisconsin model, and self-correction after some dark Greek-like years, or, in contrast, in extremis blue politicians having to deal with the consequences of their own policies. In the manner that an Obama can vastly expand drones and renditions without a whimper of liberal angst, so too someone like him will have to deal with bounced Medicare reimbursements or free cell phones that can’t be replaced when they break, or long lines in federal health clinics emptied of doctors who have gone elsewhere. The laws of physics ultimately prevail. (Emphasis added.)
If he is correct, and I fear that he is, there is very little we can do except wait for the coming implosion and be prepared to pick up the pieces.
♦ Identity politics in general have become very strong; they tend to produce “one issue voters,” who think that the issues that resonate with them are the only issues worth considering.
That’s fairly standard outside of the first world nations that have representative governments. Political parties are drawn along tribal lines and politics is a game of acquiring wealth, status, and patronage th[r]ough (sic) the political process for the winning political party; which is really a surrogate for a tribal or ethnic group or a coalition of ethnic groups. But that’s the lowest level of the political process, and our politics is reverting to it. Our democracy is being less advanced, not more.
There will be lots of Republican weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth for the upcoming weeks, with the usual cast of “experts” giving their opinions that the Republican Party is too far right, and needs to change. But we had in Mitt Romney one of the most moderate Republican candidates in decades, and in him a candidate who was competent and qualified. He was just in the wrong tribe.
So for the long term big picture, Identity politics will have more to with who supports what party then any public policies, programs, or ideology. Anyone who has studied anything about post colonial third world democracies knows what that looks like, and it’s not pretty.
We are all hyphens now.
Election fraud? There is always some and this time there may have been more than usual. Absentee ballots for military voters serving overseas? Failing to get them out in time to return them and have them counted seems to have been a big and possibly decisive factor. We don’t know yet and in any event it’s too late to do anything effective about it. Next time? Maybe, but there have to be people in Government who want to. We will never know if this time election fraud had diminished, increased or remained the same. In view of the magnitude of President Obama’s victory, however, it probably did not affect the vote enough to make much of a difference. He got about 2.5 million more votes than Governor Romney.
What to do now
Gridlock? It’s almost certain. President Obama, who “couldn’t wait” for “post-partisan” congressional action to achieve his goals during his first term, now has all of the post-election flexibility he could hope for and “won’t wait.” There will be many Executive Orders and it will matter not at all whether he has the legal and constitutional authority to promulgate them. The only way to challenge them will be in court, and getting an issue before the Supreme Court takes lots of time — time during which the Executive Orders are very likely to remain in effect. And if, as seems quite likely, by the time a case gets to the Supreme Court a changed Supreme Court with two or more justices replaced upon retirement, little that President Obama does is likely to receive rigorous scrutiny.
Some insist that since he got reelected, “we” should impeach President Obama for treason. “We” can’t do that. It takes the House to vote a bill of impeachment and the Senate to convict. It might be a satisfying distraction from our woes to try, but getting an impeachment resolution passed by the House would be time consuming and difficult, if possible at all. Getting the Democrat controlled Senate to convict? With only forty-five Republican senators? That is about as likely as wringing from the newly elected House and Senate enough reductions in spending to balance the budget and diminish the historically high national debt with no tax increases “for the filthy rich” (which wouldn’t work either). It makes more sense to focus on the good — little though there may be — that can possibly, even probably, be done and to avoid playing games.
Is there anything that conservatives, who dream that the nation may one day return to the basics, can do? I suggested some things in a recent article titled Civil War, the U.S Constitution and History — I did not suggest that we have another civil war and remain hopeful (my hopes have been misguided before, as witness last night) that we won’t. There, I cited one of my earlier articles at PJ Media titled Governments Rot when their Citizens Let Them and offered a few ideas on how to excise the rot. I wrote,
[T]he United States has a history and retains a vestigial culture, albeit increasingly diluted and diminished, of individuality, independence, and public service as a burden to be accepted, only temporarily, for the common good. To us, the concept may seem rather naive, funny, and old-fashioned. It shouldn’t. Cincinnatus (519 – 438 B.C.), who returned to plow his fields in Rome when he had finished his job as supreme military commander, is fading as a role model and even a memory.
He gained fame as a model of Roman virtue. He was a farmer above all, but when called to serve his country he did so well, efficiently, and without question, even though a prolonged stay away from his farm could mean starvation for his family. When he served his country, he made his stint as dictator as brief as possible. He was also admired for his lack of ambition.
Much of that culture, although diminished in Rome, spread slowly to parts of what was then the wider world, including Britain. Centuries later, Britain gradually transitioned from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy, with many of the individual freedoms and restraints on government set forth in the United States Constitution. It took a very long time. Nor was it, as the French ruling class understood, automatic. M. Guillotine’s clever and comparatively humane device, celebrated as the people’s avenger, was much in use as the French Revolution proceeded. Far less humane “rebels” in Libya are hardly proving themselves historically unique by exacting their vengeance without much sensitivity. …
In more recent years, Britain’s culture has become no less multiculturally devalued than that of the United States. Venezuela, Cuba, and many others never, at least in recent memory, enjoyed cultures conducive to freedom and democracy. Ditto many countries in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, plus some of the countries they colonized. Mexico? Hardly a role model for the United States; I didn’t learn much about Mexican history or culture half a century ago in school, and I doubt that many young people in Mexico learn much today about the history or culture of the United States. Few are likely to develop cultural attitudes in contemporary Mexico compatible with life in the United States.
The culture of the United States appears to be changing instead.
Haiti was colonized by France and revolted to form a “republic” at about the time of the French Revolution. There was some stability under various dictators. More recently, there was a rebellion in 2004, then earthquakes and floods that made existence even worse. Will Haiti ever have democracy and freedom? In the foreseeable future, there seems to be no path to that destination, including some kind of well-intended conquest; some type of mobocracy, maybe, but not freedom.
History suggests that where the requisite seeds and fertile soil are lacking, germinating and growing responsible, responsive governments for a free people is almost impossible. Although President Obama is not the only leader in the United States more hopeful than knowledgeable about even recent history, as President he is more capable than most others of doing great harm.
Obama’s historical ignorance could be a full time beat for somebody who does this work for a living, and it tells us something truly important about Barack Obama. His ignorance is as broad as it is deep. Not that you couldn’t deduce that on your own from his performance on the job.
This lack of historical awareness, along with other disabilities, seems to have spawned a penchant for ignoring reality in such places as Libya while neglecting to water the fragile plant on our own still fertile soil — and while using what remains of it to bring impoverished cultures and their consequences to the United States. (Emphasis added.)
I am concerned that we may, with yesterday’s election, have got beyond the point at which we have any decent chance of solving the problem now and that we may, as Victor Davis Hanson suggested, have no option but to wait to pick up the pieces and reassemble them into a more congenial jigsaw puzzle. That time may come sooner rather than later, and perhaps the sooner the better for the nation. Or, the nation may limp along and become another Greece — on life support but clinging to what remains of life. I don’t know where that life support might be found, but we may learn to our sorrow.
Tomorrow may bring new insights into how we can do more than help to pick up the pieces. I am not inclined to give up and hope that it does.
(This article was also posted at Dan Miller’s Blog.)
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