"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." -- Theodore Roosevelt


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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Why Obama Won: The Hard Answer is the American Cultural Divide


It's been nagging at me since the results. How on earth was Obama re-elected?

We have a dismal economy, historically high gas prices, 200+ Mexicans killed by Obama's gun walking scheme, historically long high unemployment, an unpopular and ruinous law in ObamaCare, our overseas embassies are under assault, and the president in charge lies about the attacks and then blames an American who made a film on YouTube. How do you put a proven loser and liar back in the presidency-- even by a razor-thin margin?

The answer is two-fold. First let's look at Charles Hurt's Opinion piece "Obama victory means four more years with no hope of change" from The Washington Times:

All that for nothing. It was the billion-dollar election that did not decide one single damned thing.

Republicans control the House. Democrats control the Senate. And the White House remains in Democratic hands with absolutely no mandate whatsoever.

Another four years with no hope of change.

In this environment with this economy and all the gravely important matters pressing against the very existence of this country, it should have been a tsunami election. It should have been a landslide that sent President Obama into the dust heap of failed presidencies. Instead, the election was about Big Bird.

It was the rape election. The contraception election. The binders full of women election.

It was about who was born where and whether she really could claim to be a Cherokee Indian.

It was about former President George W. Bush. And it was about gay marriage.

It was about the 1 percent and the 99 percent and the 47 percent.

It was about dancing freaking horses, for crying out loud!

Just about the only thing the election wasn’t about was the economy, which everyone agrees was the only thing voters actually cared about. People tend to really care about the economy when real unemployment reaches double digits, welfare rolls fatten by one-third, politicians rack up $16 trillion in national debt and the largest tax hike in the history of the world looms just weeks away.

Yet that obviously is not what decided this election. Politicians were too busy talking all about Big Bird, rape and dancing horses.

The most disturbing issue of the election was how President Obama managed to win re-election in places like Ohio and Pennsylvania and Michigan by talking about the highly unpopular bailout of General Motors. By taking billions of dollars in hard-earned money from taxpayers during a deep recession and giving it to a couple of huge companies, Mr. Obama managed to buy the votes he needed to eke out re-election. Taxpayers remain on the hook to the tune of $25 billion.

[...]
 
What happened Tuesday night is the same thing that has been happening for decades in America. Politicians deploy all this highly precise technology to slice and dice voters into little micro-groups and then talk to them all about dancing horses or Big Bird.

The result is you have all these states vote for one side and all these other states vote for the other side and it all comes down to Florida and Ohio. You could have given me a lot less than a billion dollars and I could have told you that.

Hurt is quite correct when he says that Obama and the Democrats correctly defined what would be the places that were really needed to win. It wasn't merely Ohio and Florida, it was the specific counties, the specific neighborhoods in these states. They found them, focus-grouped them, then lied to them in the manner workshopped to be most convincing. And if they didn't lie, they talked about Big Bird and dancing horses. A fair push from unions and possible voter fraud never hurts either.

But this begs the question, how did it come to this? How is it that we knew this would be a close election, despite the economic and international chaos wrought by an ideologue, amateur president? How is that despite the fact that blue states were littered with Romney signs, that blue states remained blue in the presidential election? Why did people in these blue states not change their mind as their leader has demonstrated precious little leadership qualities in the last four years?

The answer is cultural. The hard answer is America is not the country that people once felt it to be: a politically middle-of-the-road, common sense nation. It's no longer a nation that uniformly takes pride in its people and culture, who celebrate in its historical accomplishments.

Gone are the days of Yankee Doodle Dandy, when a Democrat like George M. Cohan could wave the flag with pride and say "I'm just an average guy who knows what average guys wants to see." Now Democrats are people who revel in suffering under the burden of perceived oppression.

Elizabeth Warren celebrates the fact that a woman of color like herself (let's not let a little thing like factual family history get in the way of such claims) can prosper against the evil tyranny that is the United States. When Michelle Obama said that her husband being elected was the first time she was proud of America she meant it. As the Obamas listened to Rev. Wright scream "Goddamn America!" they nodded in agreement. This is the culture of the Left that the Democrats have embraced.

One can argue about the hypocritical and self-defeating values that they embrace-- victimhood hands over power to their perceived oppressors, just as begging for money gives power to those you beg from no matter if you raise your begging upon the "pedestal" of "social justice"-- but all of that is moot. This is what the Left possesses. And that's it. Paradoxically, they find cohesion with economic and racial division. It was no slip of the tongue for Obama to declare with deadpan seriousness that "voting is the best revenge." People on the Right asked exactly who voters were getting revenge against not knowing that it was against, not Romney, but against specifically them and all they believe and they represent. Culture wars are the Left's bread and butter, and social conflict their only course of action. George M. Cohan's Democratic Party is dead.

Yes, this fragile framework of oppression and hate is a dead-end. It cannot continue indefinitely and would ultimately lead to frightful violence as it has in the past and continues to do so in central Africa, and parts of South America and Asia (such as Sri Lanka). But, and it pains me to say this, that doesn't matter. It has worked in this election. And this is what we're left with.

 Next let's look at Michael Barone's article "Two Americas" from the NRO. Read the whole piece at the link, but here's a lot of it:

But whether Barack Obama is elected to a second term or Mitt Romney is elected the 45th president, the contours of their support during this fiercely fought campaign show that we live in two Americas.

The culturally cohesive America of the 1950s that some of us remember, usually glossing over racial segregation and the civil-rights movement, is no longer with us and hasn’t been for some time.

That was an America of universal media, in which everyone watched one of three similar TV channels and newscasts every night. Radio, 1930s and 1940s movies, and 1950s and early-1960s television painted a reasonably true picture of what was typically American.
That’s not the America we live in now. Niche media has replaced universal media.

One America listens to Rush Limbaugh, the other to NPR. Each America has its favorite cable news channel. As for entertainment, Americans have 100-plus cable channels to choose from, and the Internet provides many more options.

Bill Bishop highlighted the political consequences of this in his 2008 book, The Big Sort. He noted that in 1976 only 27 percent of voters lived in counties carried by one presidential candidate by 20 percent or more. In 2004, nearly twice as many, 48 percent, lived in these landslide counties. That percentage may be even higher this year.

We’re more affluent than we were in the 1950s (if you don’t think so, try doing without your air conditioning, microwaves, smartphones, and Internet connections). And we have used this affluence to seal ourselves off in the America of our choosing while trying to ignore the other America.

We tend to choose the America that is culturally congenial. Most people in the San Francisco Bay area wouldn’t consider living in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex, even for much better money. Most metroplexers would never relocate to the Bay Area.

There are plenty of smart and creative and successful people in both Americas. But they don’t like to mix with each other these days.

They especially don’t like to talk about politics and the cultural issues that, despite the prominence of economic concerns today, have largely determined our political allegiances over the last two decades.

One America tends to be traditionally religious, personally charitable, appreciative of entrepreneurs, and suspicious of government. The other tends to be secular or only mildly religious, less charitable, skeptical of business, and supportive of government as an instrument to advance liberal causes.

The more conservative America tends to be relatively cohesive. Evangelical Protestants and white Catholics make common cause; the 17th-century religious wars are over. Southern or northern accents don’t much matter.

That’s typical of the Republican party, which has always had core support from people who are seen as typical Americans but are not by themselves a majority in our always diverse country.

The more liberal America tends to be diverse. Like Obama’s 2008 coalition, it includes many at the top and at the bottom of the economic ladder.

That’s typical of the Democratic party, a coalition of disparate groups — immigrant Catholics and white southerners long ago, blacks and gentry liberals today.
[...]
Americans have faced this before. This has been a culturally diverse land from its colonial beginnings. The mid-20th-century cultural cohesiveness was the exception, not the rule.
We used to get along by leaving each other alone. The Founders established a limited government, neutral on religion, allowing states, localities, and voluntary associations to do much of society’s work. Even that didn’t always work: We had a Civil War.

This is the divided America of today. We've been living in it for a while, blissfully ignorant and underestimating the cultural divide. It wasn't until this election that this issue really came to a head. People in blue states chose Obama, not because of his demonstrated incompetence, but because he's one of their own. He demonstrates their values, voices their hatred of traditional America, treats Red America with the contempt they believe that it deserves. Revenge indeed.

Don't believe me? That anger is expressed daily on Twitter. Why were celebrities viciously assaulted and threatened when they exercised their right to disagree and vote for Romney (a quick sampling of cooments directed at Stacy Dash following her expression of pride in Romney's campaign after the loss: "die slow ho" "drink bleach and die. You're an uninformed, unemployed, has-been diva with a bad publicist" "Kill yo self BITCH" "Stacey Dash must die." "Die little hoe.")? Why are conservative blacks (or people perceived to be conservative) knocked to the ground by black and white Democrats and called "nigger" like Kenneth Gladney? Why did the Missouri NAACP support Gladney's attackers?

They blamed Bush for not responding to Katrina because they saw him as Obama's anti-thesis, a petty and vindictive man who didn't care about others. This isn't considered to be a bad trait, mind you, simply the hard "truth." Remember Kanye said "George Bush hates Black people!"

Why would the Left think this? Because they see their beliefs as universal truths. Their hatred focused at the other (the mainstay of community organizing), incorporated in the banner of the Right, is not perceived as a weakness nor as bigotry, but as a universal truth as taught by Engels and Marx. You see, no matter how we on the Right may think, they are sure that we will act according their "truth." 

This is the same trap (both Engels and Marx fell into it) that allows bigotry to thrive in the face of millions of exceptions to the bigot's perceived "rule." I've long made the comment that what America sees as racism, is often generally considered truth in the rest of the world. "Of course those people [whatever social, racial class they may be] are inferior to us. I mean just look at them!" Does this sound familiar? Like something off of the TV or in a movie, or perhaps a celebrity interview? Of course the country people/Southerners are a bunch of inbred bigots/idiots/rednecks/hillbillies. Why just look at them.

And since they know the truth, we must be behaving according to their laws, even if we appear not to. That's why they see the Right as so devious. Charitable acts, belief in morality and religion... it's all just a ruse to hold power. Romney gave millions to charity, but people who have given next to nothing confidently declare that he hates poor people and support a man whose policies guarantee an increase in poverty and misery. In their minds Romney is devious and immoral, while they're just honest. Belief in their universal truths demands this interpretation.

The Republicans ran a safe campaign. They kept it reasonably positive, picked a moderate, ran against Obama's record. And they almost pulled it off.

But they didn't and now reality must be faced. It smacked us in the head in this election. Breitbart was right about this being a cultural war-- and the Right lost. No more juvenile denials, no more bubbles. We live in a divided America now. Blue and red. Make no mistake about this. This election wasn't about any issues. It's useless to blame Sandy, Benghazi, the 47% comment, etc. None of that really mattered. People voted because of how they see themselves and then backed the candidate who most closely represented their values and beliefs-- no matter how horrifying those beliefs may be. It's ridiculous, self-defeating and petty. But it's true. Plus a little free stuff like phones and pizza in battleground states never hurts.

Where do we go from here? It doesn't matter. Obama's policies cannot work, but he won't back down from them. They will fail. And the resulting political chaos will bring about a new political reality. The blue and red America of today will shift in ways impossible to predict.

But what comes next for now? High unemployment, shrinking incomes, higher taxes, worse medical care, an anemic economy, a higher poverty rate, more homeless, a weaker dollar, lower life expectancy, blame shifting, more hate, more division. In all, a substantially weaker America.

Hunker down. There are tough years to come.

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