Thursday, November 8, 2012

How Obama Won

Many seem surprised that now the election is over, the media coverage of the campaign seems to have born no resemblance to how the actual election turned out.  This shouldn't be surprising.  The media has no interest in reporting accurate, real news.  It is selling a product--middle class and upper middle class audiences to advertisers.  An election cycle without a horse race is boring.  One candidate cannot seem too far ahead of the others or things become too mundane and people tune out.  This means less revenue from advertising dollars.  The half dozen or so large corporations that own the media don't like that.

An excellent example of this is the Republican campaign.  Judging by the numbers, it was very clear that Mitt Romney was ultimately going to win the Republican nomination.  But the media had to pretend each week that somehow Rick Perry, Rick Santorum, or Newt Gingrich were going to unseat the presumed candidate.  This never happened.  It never was going to happen.

The same goes with this presidential election.  Looking at the swing state likely outcomes, it has been clear for months and months that Obama was ahead just enough to pull off a reasonably large victory.  Nate Silver, a statistician, has been saying this for months, but the media refused to listen because it made for a boring news cycle.  Instead, the media reported on daily polls which didn't factor in the electoral college, which is the real decision maker when it comes to deciding the presidential outcome.

Now we hear about how the Republican "War on Women" has cost Republicans the election.  We hear about how the Republicans must now remake themselves or face permanent defeat.  This is nothing more than media hype once again.  The numbers themselves show how Obama won, and most of it has to do with his favoring of the auto bailout in Ohio, which tipped working class Ohioans toward him.  Romney also did worse with minorities and with women, but this had more to do with general Republican policies which are simply unfavorable to these groups.  Republicans spent a great deal of their time trying to disenfranchise voters, cut programs for the poor and sick, and Mitt Romney himself was the perfect avatar of Wall Street greed and outsourcing.  So was Paul Ryan in all his Ayn Randian glory.

The truth is that although the economy is improving slowly, most of the damage to it was not caused by Obama and so people didn't blame him for it.  Considering we were close to another Great Depression when he took office, things are certainly better than they were four years ago.  Obama hasn't been a terribly effective leader.  He is not a strong and confrontational personality.  But people also remember how the Republicans fought him every inch of the way and defeated his jobs bill, along with every other thing he tried to do.  His competent handling of  Hurricane Sandy was a stark contrast to the inept disaster that was George W. Bush's Hurricane Katrina response.  Obama is no FDR, but he isn't George W. Bush or Herbert Hoover, either, and people could see this.

Reporters keep saying that if Republicans intend to regain power, they must move to the middle of the political spectrum.  Tom Brokaw spent considerable time pontificating about this on election night.  You would think that years of reporting would have been instructive to him.  He seemed amazed that the two parties refuse to work together for the good of the common people.  The reason they don't work together is simple--it's because they have different principles and don't agree.  People like Paul Ryan and Michelle Bachmann are true believers.  They aren't going to throw their ideals out the window just to gain political power.  The same goes for members of the Tea Party.  To assume that these folks will do so just to gain power is incredibly naive.  After the massive Republican defeat in 2006, the party didn't become more moderate.  To the contrary, it became even more right wing.  In 2010, the Republican party bounced back and regained the House.  Moderates might be willing to move to the middle to gain power, but these folks are not the true believers.  The reality is that we are going to have far right Republicans, and they aren't going away.  The same goes for members of the left.  People like Jill Stein, Noam Chomsky, and Chris Hedges are not suddenly going to sell out their ideals to support candidates who are moderates.  This is contrary to their nature.  Members of the left and right aren't going to hold hands and sing Kumbaya any time soon.

The most stunning thing about this election is not that Obama won.  The stunning thing is that Obama did not win by a landslide.  Even with the economy being lackluster and the jobs growth meager, Mitt Romney was an absolutely horrible candidate.  He stood for nothing.  He spent his career destroying jobs and playing financial games.  He had no tact and was prone to frequent verbal gaffes.  His flip flopping on issues and incessant lying made him totally transparent.

I am glad the election is over.  I feel relieved that the war mongers in Israel won't be given the go ahead to start a major war in the Middle East concerning Iran.  I feel happy that the Obama support for net neutrality will keep the Internet growing and vibrant.  And I feel relieved that health care reform is here to stay.  Most of all, when it is time to appoint new Supreme Court justices, those chosen won't be crypto-fascists like Antonin Scalia.  Obama getting reelected is a very good thing for this country compared to a Romney presidency.  Four more years of peace is a hell of a lot better than four more years of war.  I would have been even happier with a Jill Stein presidency, but I will take what I can reasonably get.

God bless America.

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