Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Lessons From This Election

I'm sure all of you know by know who I've been rooting for to win in 2012. I'm also sure you know who did win last night. No, Barack Obama isn't my ideal candidate, but is anyone ever really? I'm sure the Republicans felt that way about Mitt Romney, who, had he run as the so-called Massachusetts Moderate, would have actually had a chance against the President, not to mention actually making my time at the ballot box a bit less of a no-brainer. In any case, I'm not here to gloat (mostly), I'm actually here to draw several lessons that ought to be learned from this election, and to give my insight on what's to come in America. (Hint: A socialist wasteland isn't at the top of that list.)

Anyways, first up is things I've learned from this election cycle. At the top of that list is that the Citizens United decision, which allows for unrestricted and undisclosed private contributions to political campaigns (think SuperPACs), has ultimately had little effect on the outcomes of a lot of races. Case in point: I live in Ohio, which Jon Stewart affectionately dubbed to be a "swing-state hell." Well, he was right. Outside of its importance in the Presidential race, Ohio also played host to a contentious Senate race between incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown and challenger Josh Mandel. What ended up happening here is that SuperPACs supporting Mandel outspent those supporting Brown by five to one. Thanks for all of those ads, guys, really. Anyways, the point is that even with all of that big spending from the Roves and Kochs of the world, Josh Mandel still lost. Now, maybe if Mandel had been a better candidate he'd have had a chance, but the fact remains that huge amounts of outside spending didn't seem to actually move the needle one way or the other, especially if, you know, the candidate is well-liked by a lot of Ohioans.

Moving on then. The second big thing that you ought to take away from this election is that Fox News has the predictive power roughly equivalent to that of a crone reading goat entrails. No, but seriously, many people (including and especially the Romney campaign) came into this election cycle sure, just so sure that any challenger to Barack Obama would be a shoo-in for President. They were so sure that four years ago America had lost its collective mind in a bizarre torrent of hope-y change-y optimism and voted in a closet socialist. Not quite. This is probably the biggest mistake that those on the right made this cycle. Well, that and continuing to nominate people who are completely, utterly insane (see: Mourdock, Richard and Akin, Todd). Indeed, Fox News, as they so often do, perpetuated a kind of alternate reality in which Romney would sweep this election, no sweat, as voters overwhelmingly rejected Barack Obama's big government agenda and his tepid recovery. And people bought that story. I legitimately hope that this comes as a lesson to news organizations like Fox and the National Review. Being so utterly out of touch with reality will at some point come back to bite you. And so it has, on a grand scale: if Florida keeps going the way it is, Obama will have won every state he did in 2008 with the exception of North Carolina and Indiana. Oracles of Delphi, they aren't.

In any case, let me wrap this up with a few thoughts of what's to come in America. It is important to point out that with a split Congress, I'm not terribly confident that much will be agreed upon if Republican obstructionism persists as it has since 2009. Perhaps being roundly defeated in a presidential race they thought was a shoo-in will have jarred a few of them into being reasonable again, I hope so, but I guess we'll have to see. Rather, the most important things that will unfold under Obama's second term have already passed: the Affordable Care Act and the Dodd-Frank financial regulation. More importantly, as Matt Yglesias so wisely pointed out yesterday, whomever wins will preside over a growing economy and their policies will be vindicated. In this case, Barack Obama will be the one who is vindicated, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm glad of that.

With that, I leave you with undeniable proof of widespread voter fraud (From the movie Gangs of New York):