I firmly believe we have become so enamored with our own beliefs these days, and our own sources for those beliefs, that honest election analysis has become damn near impossible to find. So I waited to hear all the nonsense from the usual suspects before I wrote this column. I wanted to provide an analysis somewhat free of BS I expected to hear, and did hear, from FOX, MSNBC, or any of the mainstream media.
So… what happened last Tuesday?
By now anyone with a brain knows the, “close, oh, so close,” meme’ was nonsense. That may have served the media with ratings, and helped those who wish to manipulate, even steal elections, or rally supporters on their side: but it obviously wasn’t all that true. We’ve lived through more than a few “close elections” before this. This wasn’t one of them. The conclusion we should come to is that any mainstream media source, or pundit, who kept insisting it was “close” should be suspect. That includes the left’s supposed old standby NPR. Yes, I was listening: you’re guilty too. And certainly FOX… where some pundits insisted past the obvious that it just couldn’t be so.
Of course I was in a pub yesterday and the barflies were still drooling over more “analysis” from FOX, the tender proudly claiming, “I listen to them all the time for the facts.”
If seeking out “analysis” were like fighting a war, that would be like following the ghost of Custer who insists on fighting Little Big Horn exactly like they did the last time, over and over again. But some people are so stuck in their partisan time loop they can’t use what’s little is left of their brains, the rest having been splattered on the prairie grass due to the self absorbed egos of their punditry.
Things both sides should be thankful for…
I do think Dems should thank Sandy, though I suspect that had less affect than some Repubs are desperate to believe.
The rich and Citizens United. What? Why, it failed to stop Obama, right? Why should the rich thank CU?
Don’t be so quick, Kimosabe. Romney may have seemed like the “perfect” corporatist candidate, but I’m not so sure. Wouldn’t it be better if they had a candidate with a strong base behind him next time, rather than someone who turned into “anyone but Mitt” during the primary? Someone who might put a big spotlight on Citizens United? Besides: Obama has a proven record of being willing to deal: no single payer, not even public option… while Obamacare may concern some, it certainly hands a lot of new business over to the same healthcare selling companies who have already made billions. And 4 years from now, if things look really bad, certainly they can find a corporate friendly candidate they like who has a base more enamored with him than anyone was enamored with Mitt.
Why did Romney lose? Even before the painful 40 some percent comment, before we found out how much he was disliked by some who should have been in his own base, before all the doubling down on some questionable comments, and then when the _________ hits the rhetorical fan, his trying to douse it with a, “Of course I won’t (fill in the blank…) few believed, let’s start with: “Hey guys! Can we dispense with the endless ‘debates,’ pre-primary? You merely damaged your own brand, and turned everyone into some very annoyed character in an unresolved version of Green, Eggs and Ham.
I would not listen to yet another debate on Iran, I would not bother to listen to yet another a debate in done in a can, I want no more damn debates, I’d rather eat contaminated green eggs and ham!”
So many debates exposed more flaws and irritations with Mitt, and others, than they helped. And all through them we all knew who the uppity schnucks in the party wanted from the start. Wanted so bad they were willing to run over Santorum after the first caucus, like this was some big “win” for Romney. Actually Rick won that caucus, but you’d never know it. Like most election and vote driven events these days, who is declared first has become the only thing that matters. That’s only part of what’s wrong with how we vote, been wrong for a long time. More on that latter.
Note: what happened election night may have absolutely nothing to do with corporatists, or Iowa, or….
It may have far more to do with us, like the simplistic: Idiocracy quality, talking points we buy into every election year instead of having rational, respectful, in-depth discussions about crucial issues. Every election year our candidates; often with little more quality and content than cans of dated, rotted, tomatoes, are repackaged with simplistic phrases that, intentionally I suspect, make the reasoning parts of our brains want to go fishing in the most remote lakes in the Adirondacks: far from radio, TV and newspapers. Even though it’s getting damn cold up there in November.
Of course I don’t need an election year to dream of fishing Rock Lake, north of Stillwater, even in November, but that’s another story.
How about all these talking points that dominated the election, and the aftermath? Let’s take just two…
1. “People must want more government ‘give mes.'”
“Obama wins because it’s not a traditional America anymore,” Bill O’Reilly said on Fox News last night. “The white establishment is the minority. People want things.”
“Traditional,” Bill? What could be more “traditional?” People always “want things,” Bill. The Pilgrims “wanted” to worship as they wished. Some of us “wanted” the land some Native Americans were on. We wanted to be “given” protection from a British Empire enabled monopolistic tea company: “want” denied. Hence: revolution. You want “things,” this election year. I wanted “things.” We just wanted different “things.”
The whole entitlement “give me” meme’ is poison ivy for the brain: we’re so busy itching we can’t think. Everyone wants gov to “give me.” We just disagree about what should be given, what should be taken, or denied. We can continue to “give” social programs, even though “give” is more than a misnomer because we pay into many of these social programs, or we can “give” breaks in taxes and regulations to big business. Either could be derided as ”give mes.” Certainly forcing people to sell their land so the next Mega Mart can be built is a “give me.” The gov can “promote big business” by giving companies, like WalMart, tax breaks, relaxed regulations, to bring a new super center into town with whatever jobs it may bring. They can “give” to fracking energy companies the gift of loosened regulations to provide new resources for… someone (us, the Chinese…) and create jobs. Or the gov can “give” to the renewable energy companies, which could also create jobs, protect the environment, the aquifer, encourage entrepreneur-ism. They can skew less taxes, less regulations to favor Mom and Pop: small biz.
Obviously anything can be claimed to be a “give me,” like continued tax breaks for the wealthy. Affordable health care only for the very rich “gives” plenty: especially another heart to the Dick Cheney rich, and a lot more work for gravediggers and funeral parlors.
Again: my point is not which is right, which is wrong. My point is that every decision, every path we take as a nation gives something to someone, some company, some group. Every decision, every path we take as a nation, takes away from others.
This is one of the reasons why we get to choose, why we vote.
Please don’t hand me the “social engineering” canard. Elections are about deciding how we engineer society, who “gets,” and who, well, loses: gets what they want taken away from them, or denied. Anything we do socially engineers society.
Other foolish notions that have followed us through the election…
“The rich and corporations will buy our elections through their secret, anonymous mega dollar BS propagation donations and special interest groups. We are helpless, no matter what we do.” But wait, we don’t have to buy into anything they have to sell, do we? Employees can tell the CEO of Papa Johns to take his “I’ll fire you,” threat and stick it up his own personal “pizza oven,” can’t they? In the secrecy of the voting booth, I suspect many did. One only hopes with the digitization of the vote our secrecy is safe too.
I’m not saying we don’t need to be concerned about mega buckaroos and elections, whether it be Scaife or the Kochs, but didn’t this election prove that, with patience, such tactics can end up with them suffering from a kind of intellectual, talking point, judo: where their mega-dollar driven influence can be used against them?
Even more foolish notions repeated every election, just with variations as per who is running…
Barack didn’t get the Black vote merely because he was Black, no more than Palin’s votes were all from women, or Kennedy’s all from Catholics. Otherwise Cain and Hillary would have done better than they did. Get over your own shallow analysis, Mr. or Ms. Talking Point Pusher, or Campaign/Candidate Manager. People are smarter than that. Or maybe they’re just smarter than… you?
2. “The war against … (fill in the blank)”
Can we dispense with everything being a “war,” please? Or at least let those who market such catch phrases, for the sake of patriotism, fall on their own rhetorical hand grenades? It’s lost all the pizzazz it had, not that it really had all that much. The public should rightfully yawn henceforth.
3. The Media We Listen to May Be the Message: a Bad Message
No, we never heard anyone say that, though I wish we had. Why is it people who blather on and on about the “lame stream media” suddenly became big believers in whatever line is fed to them when it’s what they want to hear? If the news media you listen to, pretty much exclusively, tells you you’re going to win, way past the point you’re obviously not going to win, you need to get out of your own political bedroom a little more because you’re only screwing yourself: and not in a “nice” way.
Very effective noise machines have a way of turning people tone deaf, poor meme’ dumb and as blind to what’s actually happening as a vegetarian trying to teach meat abstinence while boiling on a cannibal’s pot.
4. How, and If, We Vote
Currently the Right is grousing about machines turning Romney votes into Obama votes and “suppressing” the vote. Ironically the Left has been complaining about both for years, along with caging the vote and other tactics. Can we agree nothing has been solved here, and have an honest: less than partisan, discussion?
Maybe we need to start by agreeing that how fast an election can be decided is the last thing we should be concerned with. If we have to wait until every vote is in, honestly assessed: counting them by hand if we have to, like what was attempted in Florida, then that’s what we need to do. If we need to get away from electronic voting, that’s what we need to do. I’d be happy if every electronic voting contraption was tossed into a car crusher. Hiding the vote inside a box with proprietary software that can be screwed with is a really, really bad idea.
Next week I will offer a solution for a problem that’s been with us a lot longer: gerrymandering.
Note: this may have nothing to do with what happened election day. It may have all worked exactly as it was supposed to. The candidate whose campaign was the most flawed lost. My argument here, “The better candidate,” but who had the most effective campaign. The two are not always synonymous, by any means. But then one with the worst campaign lost, and in this case: the other mostly just sat back and let it happen.
Barack’s campaign wasn’t all that great, especially at first. But remember, I qualified it with “better.” But I’m not actually a believer in the “nothing went wrong” concept, and not just this election. No, I tend to be more in the camp of something has been “going wrong” for a long, long time.
Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
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