I saw the blame begin immediately last night at The Vortex. Many at the bar started blaming those who voted for 3rd party candidates. I'm reading much on Reddit blaming the result on Clinton for running a poor campaign, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and the DNC for conspiring against Bernie Sanders, and the Democrats in general. I generally disagree with all of these.
I had a coworker who, last week, brought up Trump using overseas manufacturing and said he didn't understand why people were criticizing him for it. This coworker is intelligent and funny and probably a conservative but not rabidly so. I pointed out the hypocrisy of promising to bring jobs back to America while doing the opposite. My coworker just mumbled that he didn't think that was true. This is a guy who--again is intelligent--only gets his news from Good Morning America and CNN. He had also insisted previously that he didn't know, and that few would know, what Aleppo was. It is these people who believe the false equivalence of Trump's and Clinton's faults. I suspect that should have given me pause.
And I dismissed as... quirky? when a conservative friend decided to vote 3rd party because of the Clintons having murdered five or six people. That previous sentence was not a typo.
Ultimately, I think I blame the media. I blamed them, NPR included, after 9/11 for being complicit in the lies that took us to war, and NPR was just as bad during this election for selling the false equivalence. The casual news consumer had no way to come to any other conclusion. Yet what I see as lazy w/r/t dissecting the lies and nonsense, others comment on as condescending towards Trump. It's a lose/lose for reporters I guess.
Monday, along with three others, I was laid off. That loss made me focus on great potential for the future.
One cause I see for the anger of this election, and much of the vitriol of the right, is as a group fighting against their impending extinction. Before mainstream bigotry of the poor (unelectable) can die, the group that holds these beliefs must boldly reassert its position. This light brigade charge ended with our first lesbian Senator, an increase of legal same-sex marriage from six states to nine, and the defeat of two Republican Senate candidates with a shockingly ignorant understanding of rape. Not to mention Obama's reelection.
The most cringe-inducing statements that conservatives made were just verbal leaks of commonly-held beliefs within this angry, dying demographic. They all believe the absurd statements, but must mince with apologies and half-apologies because, spoken aloud to outsiders, those beliefs are embarrassing. Murdock, who declared that rape is something
God intended to happen apologized ("apologized") with:
That anyone could come away with any meaning other than what I just said is regrettable, and for that I apologize. The belief that rape can't cause pregnancy is widely held in conservative religious circles but never spoken of to outsiders, presumably because it's easily proved false. In God Is Not Great, Hitchens tells of a debate he had with a member of the clergy. When Hitchens brought up the absurdist stories of Adam and Eve or Noah's Ark, the other waved the discussion off as if a bodily function was made apparent. When in-group falsehoods are accidentally exposed to outsiders, the falsehoods of the entire system become more visible.
When pro-rape candidates accidentally leak their group's secret beliefs or theists are confronted with ignorance they've long ignored, they may choose to go all in and lash out. Truth is not on their side. The hypocrites of the fundamentalist 80s and 90s should have ended this but did not. We have a much better chance now as those with such primitive beliefs become more angry and speak their absurdities more proudly. There will always be those on the winning side of history to speak up against them (sometimes from unexpected sources).
The chorus of the internationally interested had a single request last week: don't fuck this up, America. Though initially, I felt that we didn't (and effectively, we didn't) ultimately I think it's Obama's campaign that didn't fuck up. He completely owned the electoral college, getting almost 70% of the votes, but only slightly better than squeaked by with popular vote, getting 52.6% (to McCain's 46.1%). The numbers (minor rounding errors, values taken from Wikipedia):
|Candidates (w/l)||Electoral Win (%)||Popular Vote (%w/l)||Undecided (%)|
Hearing the post-election revelations of the depth of Palin's ignorance (held back by the press, who, across the board should die the most horrible death any of us could imagine), it's terrifying that a McCain who would risk so much on her could still garner the popular-vote loyalty of so many. I want to think that those who were frightened away by lies of Muslimness or Socialistness were outliers or ignorant. Unfortunately, they were coworkers and college graduates. The willful ignorance of the last eight years won't immediately dissolve into a willingness to reason, but the example set by Obama as a public intellectual will at least hold as a model to define the next eight.
As I read the moderates proclaiming that both Obama and McCain were equally-viable-but-different, I'm reminded of a Tom the Dancing Bug (IIRC) comic. One character is angrily threatening another with a punch in the face. The defender insists that he doesn't want to be punched as Mr. Middle Ground appears declaring: The truth is somewhere in between your two opinions. In order to find a solution that satisfied both individuals, he decided that the first man simply kick the other in the shin (or some other not-as-bad-as-getting-punched-in-the-face attack). Ah, a happy compromise has been reached between the two equally valid opinions!
Sometimes, the supposed middle ground is not closer to truth. McCain's aggressive stance towards and diplomatic exclusion of Iran was in no way a sensible position. Few with the knowledge and authority on the region agreed with him, and yet are we to buy that Obama should approach Iran somewhere between diplomatic talks and aggressive exclusion? Or compare McCain's emphasis on secrecy throughout (his
you don’t telegraph your intentions to the enemy during a discussion of the U.S.'s Pakistan policy) with Obama's promise of transparency and openness. That being said, Obama does not have the mandate that the empire-leaning Bush declared he had (and with a much smaller margin of victory). There are middle grounds to be had, and, though I trust that his approach will be fair, we need to watch after him. This is, after all, the guy who cheated us on FISA and the bailout.