Hopes, Dreams, and Fantasies: the Aftermath of the 2012 Elections
By Dennis Loo (11/9/12)
Mitt Romney, the man who staked his claim to the presidency on the promise that he could get people back to work and straighten out the fiscal crisis, went into Election day so confident that he was going to win, he didn’t even bother to put together a concession speech in case he didn’t.
This reminds me of Bush and Cheney’s plans going into Iraq. They figured that they would be greeted with flowers and parades and they didn’t bother to develop a contingency plan in case it all went south. They had no plans. They didn’t think they needed contingency plans and thought the very idea of needing a Plan B was ridiculous. Remember the infamous “Mission Accomplished” banner on the aircraft carrier with Bush in the foreground?
Romney was beaten in all of the key battleground states and it wasn’t even close in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Think about that: Romney and his brain trust were so out of touch with reality that they didn’t know that they were going to get beaten decisively in the states on which the race would turn. Romney and the Republicans were even less in touch with how to win a presidential campaign than brilliant Mr. George W. Bush himself when Bush ran in 2000 and 2004.
The GOP’s resident kingmaker Karl Rove spent $300 million of rich men’s money to win back the Senate and the White House and was beside himself on Fox News on Election night, refusing to acknowledge Fox News’ own projections calling Ohio for Obama and thus delivering the presidency to Obama.
The best spin Rove could come up with in the debacle?
That all of the mucho bucks they spent kept it closer than it would have been.
As stupid as that attempt to paint a rosier picture sounds, I think Rove actually has a point: if they’d not spent so much money (the total expended from both parties and SuperPAC money was around $4.2 billion), they would have been humiliated and this would have damaged the party even more than where they find themselves today. The Republican Party leadership is made up of a small minority of over privileged self-entitled parasites and their policies and philosophy are unpopular for a reason.
Watching Fox News’ anchors' and guests' stunned looks that their guy was being beaten decisively in the key states except for Florida - where he was beaten but it was closer - was quite a treat.
And today’s news brings the story that Sean Hannity and House Speaker John Boehner have “evolved” in their thinking on immigration and are now in favor of immigration reform. Contrast that with Boehner’s earlier stand that we should amend the Constitution and ban people from becoming citizens if they’re born here to undocumented parents.
So we can see the Republicans are pivoting at least on immigration, what with Latinos making up 10% of the 2012 votes, helping to deliver key states to Obama and the Democrats, and with Latinos being the fastest growing group in the electorate.
There’s a larger lesson in this, especially to those who vote for Republicans: the GOP has gotten so accustomed to telling lies and creating “truths” out of thin air and getting away with it that when hard realities like basic math and the fact that if you tell Latinos that they should “self-deport” as Romney did during the campaign, they are going to dislike you and not vote for you, the Republicans were shocked by reality smacking them in the faces. Just check out the looks on the faces of the Romneys and Ryans on stage when Romney conceded the race on Election evening.
But lest we get too Schadenfreude here, it bears underscoring that the affliction of disconnection from reality has its own manifestation with both the Democrats and some segments of the Left.
Here is an excerpt from Globalization and the Demolition of Society with respect to the Obama Administration’s stand on global warming. It makes especially useful reading in the wake of Hurricane Sandy’s devastation of the New York/New Jersey area:
As James Hansen, whose proven track record on anticipating the course of global warmings’ progressive danger signs makes him the most credible scientist around, has forcefully warned, the point of no return has already been passed and emergency measures are needed. In a 2003 report commissioned by Andrew Marshall and written by former Shell Oil Head of Planning Peter Schwartz and California think tank Global Business Network’s Doug Randall, the Department of Defense (DoD) itself warned of the convulsive effects that global warming in the not distant future will wreak in the form of forced migrations of tens of millions and wars over resources critical to actual survival; the DoD described this as a threat “greater than terrorism.”
The research suggests that …adverse weather conditions could develop relatively abruptly, with persistent changes in the atmospheric circulation causing drops in some regions of 5-10 degrees Fahrenheit in a single decade. Paleoclimatic evidence suggests that altered climatic patterns could last for as much as a century, as they did when the ocean conveyor collapsed 8,200 years ago, or, at the extreme, could last as long as 1,000 years as they did during the Younger Dryas, which began about 12,700 years ago. . . .
[A]n increasing number of business leaders, economists, policy makers, and politicians are concerned about the projections for further change and are working to limit human influences on the climate. But, these efforts may not be sufficient or be implemented soon enough.
As famine, disease, and weather-related disasters strike due to the abrupt climate change, many countries’ needs will exceed their carrying capacity. This will create a sense of desperation, which is likely to lead to offensive aggression in order to reclaim balance. Imagine eastern European countries, struggling to feed their populations with a falling supply of food, water, and energy, eyeing Russia, whose population is already in decline, for access to its grain, minerals, and energy supply. Or, picture Japan, suffering from flooding along its coastal cities and contamination of its fresh water supply, eying Russia’s Sakhalin Island oil and gas reserves as an energy source to power desalination plants and energy-intensive agricultural processes. Envision Pakistan, India, and China – all armed with nuclear weapons – skirmishing at their borders over refugees, access to shared rivers, and arable land. Spanish and Portuguese fishermen might fight over fishing rights – leading to conflicts at sea. And, countries including the United States would be likely to better secure their borders. With over 200 river basins touching multiple nations, we can expect conflict over access to water for drinking, irrigation, and transportation. The Danube touches twelve nations, the Nile runs though nine, and the Amazon runs through seven. [ii] [Emphasis added.]
The response from the Pentagon’s spokesperson Dan Hetlage to this report was interesting:
We did not expect any White House response to the Pentagon on this report. Andrew Marshall is our Yoda, our big thinker who peers into the future. But it’s all speculation. It was very ethereal, very broad in scope. It wasn’t like, “Oh, wow, that totally debunks the president’s stand on global warming,” because it was merely a thought exercise. We don’t have a crystal ball. We don’t really know.[iii] [Emphasis in the original.]
They “don’t really know.” When astronauts go into space, the backup systems NASA creates to protect the astronauts and their missions are multiple in nature in case the first few fail. The scenarios they run in preparation for outer space travel are diverse and complex. These efforts are protecting a handful of people in space; yet, when the entire planet is at risk, the trigger for action is based on whether or not they know for certain that something will happen. Of course, at the point when the dangers are manifest and present, action in response is much too late. This is the equivalent of packing the entirety of humanity into one big car and those in charge of the welfare of the passengers deciding that they are not going to put on any seatbelts because they do not know for certain that there will be an accident. (Pp. 166-168)
Obama succeeded in getting re-elected by his truly impressive ability to spin a false narrative about what he and the Democratic Party stand for. His fabricated image took a beating during his first four years by the reality of his actual policies and he was only saved from being a one-term president by the Republican Party’s extremism and the fact that too many people couldn’t get past the fact that Romney oozes money and privilege and Ryan reminds one of the kid who tattled to teachers in elementary school. As I wrote on November 7, the public is in for a rude awakening in Obama’s second term - Obama is going after Social Security and Medicare and civil liberties will get shredded even further.
Amy Goodman, one of the Left’s most prominent voices, wrote on November 7, 2012:
President Obama is a former community organizer himself. What happens when the community organizer in chief becomes the commander in chief? Who does the community organizing then? Interestingly, he offered a suggestion when speaking at a small New Jersey campaign event when he was first running for president. Someone asked him what he would do about the Middle East. He answered with a story about the legendary 20th-century organizer A. Philip Randolph meeting with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Randolph described to FDR the condition of black people in America, the condition of working people. Reportedly, FDR listened intently, then replied: “I agree with everything you have said. Now, make me do it.”
That was the message Obama repeated.
There you have it. Make him do it. You’ve got an invitation from the president himself.
Goodman’s anecdote about Obama here is an example of wishful thinking by many on the Left and it’s also an example of just how skillful this former community organizer – I’m speaking here of Mr. Obama - is at presenting a convenient image of himself to those he knows want to see certain things in him. Obama is the Leonard Zelig of our era.
Goodman goes on in her article to talk about the importance of social movements, and says correctly that social movements are more important and more powerful than the POTUS. But the linchpin of her argument is that in Obama we have someone who will listen to the Left and listen to the People.
This is a grave error.
If Obama really meant it when he said make me do it, then why did he direct the coordinated federal, state, and city level brutal repression of the Occupy Movement? If Obama secretly wants to get pressure from the Left, why did he repress Occupy? Why has he shut out and dissed the most prominent U.S. black public intellectual in Cornel West? Why did he specifically ask for the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 to include American citizens in it and then, instead of vetoing the bill, signed it and deceitfully declare upon signing it that he would never use it against American citizens? Why did he bail out Wall Street and the big mortgage companies and banks and appoint as his chief economic advisers people who were instrumental in the financial disaster itself and why didn’t he instead give people assistance in rewriting the terms of their mortgages so that they would not be put out into the streets? Why didn’t he release more of the torture photographs in order to help to generate the welling up of public revulsion for torture and move after that to prosecute torturers like Bush and Cheney for their war crimes? Why has he allowed torture to continue under his watch? Why has he allowed Big Brother to escalate beyond what even Bush did? Why has his administration gone after whistleblowers more aggressively than those famous lovers of civil liberties and free speech, Bush and Cheney?
Goodman does fine work and is brave and a real asset to the Left and to justice lovers. But she is misunderstanding who Obama is and engaging in the particular kind of wishful thinking that some of the Left is unfortunately prone to: hoping that they can find someone in authority who will listen to us and who is our secret ally. The unconscious reason for this desire? Maybe because the work of organizing people and leading and sustaining social movements is extremely hard and it’s much easier to get people to act as essentially the cheerleaders for the heroes on top to do the actual work. Maybe because realizing that the problem here isn’t just who is president but that it's the whole system that needs to be overturned and built on an entirely different basis is daunting. But truth and facts cannot be avoided or they come back to bite you. You have to face what’s objectively true and work with it to transform it rather than treat it as if you can make real whatever you want to make real if you want to accomplish your goals.
Obama is not our ally. He is not the POTUS because he represents the People. He is the Commander in Chief of the biggest Empire since Rome. How do you think Empires behave? What makes them Empires and what kind of Caesars are their leaders?
[ii] Peter Schwartz and Doug Randall, “An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security,” Edf.org, October 2003, www.edf.org/documents/3566_AbruptClimateChange.pdf, accessed on July 30, 2010.
[iii] Amanda Little, “Apocalyptic Pentagon Report on Global Warming Could Spur Action on Capitol Hill,” Pentagoners (blog), Grist.org, February 25, 2004, http://www.grist.org/article/pentagoners/, accessed on July 30, 2010.