My Election Reaction
My reaction to President Obama’s reelection?
It’s a great relief. I just saw too many bad things happening under a Mitt Romney Presidency, and I didn’t trust the man, or his backers. With Obama, I believe in his intentions. I just don’t know if he’ll be able to follow through on those intentions due to issues (and a congress) beyond his control.
But as I started touring through the election results on a state-by-state basis, I noticed a more substantial, and dangerous division across the country. The red states are implementing more and more measures defensive of their conservative traditions. The blue states (and in WA State, the blue half of the state), are implementing more progressive measures that, while I support them, also aim directly at the heart of the conservative belief system. In a system where left and right are balanced, I’d expect to see more 51-49 results. Instead, I saw a lot of 70-30 results, and that does not bode well for America.
I think we are on the cusp of the Great Migration. More than ever, people will begin to migrate to states or districts which tend to vote more in line with their personal preferences. The workforce is more mobile than ever before, and work of all types is increasingly distributed. You don’t have to live in Michigan to be an autoworker, and you don’t have to live in California to work with computers. As left-of-center independent, I can honestly say I would never move to the deep south because I wouldn’t fit in politically, and I want my vote to count. The same probably goes for conservatives in the south, moving to the Pacific Coast. The trend started with the constant gerrymandering of districts within a state, and now that many people feel their voices can no longer be heard locally because of that, they will begin to make choices to relocate to places where they will be heard, even if they are saying the exact same thing everyone else around them says.
As this scenario develops over the next few election cycles, I expect the red vs blue to only intensify. As more of the liberal states embrace concepts such as gay marriage and environmental protection, and conservatives rally against abortion and taxes and gay marriage, the fractures along state lines will deepen.
Is there hope for America? I think there could be, and it has to do with demographics. The progressive march is powered by an increasingly liberal group of young, politically active, culturally diverse, agnostic Americans. Conservative politics appear (to the left) to be powered by religion and tradition and a fuzzy memory of the ‘good old days’ under Ronald Reagan. The demographics of the GOP vote are getting increasingly older and whiter, and anyone with a calculator can see that that segment of American society will shrink significantly over the next forty years. The GOP will be forced to drift back towards the center in those areas that maintain some kind of co-mingling of beliefs, and thus return to a more balanced political cycle.
But perhaps the Right is correct, and a decade or two of ‘debauchery’ and ‘socialism’ will cause the collapse of the economy, a recognition by the left of the error of their ways, and a return to power of conservatism. Could happen.
Or perhaps, the Democrats will split with far Left vs Center-Left, like the GOP did with the Tea Party vs the Center-Right, and cause a GOP victory in 2016.
For now, I have hope that somehow President Obama can bridge the divide—can figure out how to work with the Right while at the same time pursuing his intentions to build a more progressive America. I hope that the Right doesn’t see this election as an confirmation they need to hunker down for another long fight, using delaying tactics to get their way through the failure of every effort to come from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
But I also think that much of that conciliatory effort has to start with the rest of us. We need to dial down the political attacks and rhetoric—to let our jets cool for a bit while we try to find a way to compromise.
So, in doing my part, this will (probably) be the last purely political post I make for a while. I have plenty of issues to discuss, but they aren’t political ones. It’s time to tackle those issues, and leave the tackling of each other to the football players.
Great migration? I doubt it. I think it takes a *lot* to get people to move, and I don’t think people will be willing to uproot their lives, leave their friends and jobs, just to move to a red/blue state. On the other hand, we could just just let them all move to Texas, then we can let Texas secede. Problem solved!
> But perhaps the Right is correct, and a decade or two of ‘debauchery’ and ‘socialism’ will cause the collapse of the economy, a recognition by the left of the error of their ways, and a return to power of conservatism. Could happen.
No, won’t happen. Actual historical data shows that the economy does far, far better under Democratic presidents: http://www.forbes.com/sites/adamhartung/2012/10/10/want-a-better-economy-history-says-vote-democrat/
> I hope that the Right doesn’t see this election as an confirmation they need to hunker down for another long fight, using delaying tactics to get their way through the failure of every effort to come from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
There, I suspect your fears are on target. Perhaps my biggest disappointment with Obama’s campaign is that he ran against Mitt Romney, rather than running against Congress. I wanted his stump speech to include stuff like:
“[blah blah blah, outlines of populist policy agenda] So if that’s the direction you want this country to go, if that’s the future you want for your children, you can’t just send me back to the White House. Because while the president leads the nation, it’s Congress that passes the laws for me to sign. And as we’ve seen, time and time again over the past four years, this Congress won’t do it. This Congress sees its own best future in digging its heels in the sand, blocking every bit of progress they can, then blaming me that things haven’t gotten better faster and hoping you don’t notice what they’re up to. Yes, we made some progress despite their best efforts.
“We tooks some steps on health care, so nobody can be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition. But you know why so many American families are still being crushed under the weight of skyrocketing insurance payments? Because the Congress dug their heels in and threw a big tantrum about the public option provision in the health care law I proposed. Surveys showed Americans overwhelmingly favored a public option, but Congress wouldn’t let them have it.
“Some days, it feels like a miracle we’ve been able to make as much progress as we have.
“I’ve reached out, time and time again, to work with Republican leaders in Congress to do the people’s business. But time and time again, they’ve prioritized working against me over working for you. So don’t just send me back to the White House, America. Send me back, but send me a Congress that will work with me.”
That’s what I wanted him to say, but he never said it. He never connected the dots for the woefully uneducated electorate, to help them realize that oh yeah, the president isn’t god. It’s a system, and you’re not going to get the progress Obama wants to make as long as John Boehner’s still Speaker of the House.