I woke up this morning deeply discouraged about the future of our country. Conservatives like to say that we are a “center-right nation,” but in a country where the challenger can win independents handily and still lose the election that is clearly no longer the case. Many, myself included, thought the polls showing Obama ahead based on 2008 demographics couldn’t possibly be right . . . that 2008 was a historical anomaly centered on the man himself, and that after the pendulum swung the other way in 2010, everything would revert to the norm in 2012. We were wrong. I was wrong. 2008 was a realignment, and the face of the country changed. That being the case, it’s worth looking back at the country we left behind us four years ago.
Four years ago, I wrote a post on this blog intended to calm the fears of readers on the right who were worried about the fate of the nation in the face of what everybody knew would be an overwhelming victory for Barack Obama. It’s never as bad as it seems, I wrote, and the election of a staunch far-left liberal masquerading as a post-partisan moderate is not the end of the world.
I will not be writing any such comforting words this time. This time the electorate’s rose-colored glasses were off. The far-left liberal ran as exactly what he is. He ran a small, vicious and mean campaign based on character assassination, and was reelected anyway. It really is as bad as it seems. It may be worse.
Four years ago, if I was the type of person who believed birth control was wrong, I could simply not use it. Now I am legally obligated to pay for other people to do so.
Four years ago, it was perfectly acceptable to for me to refuse to provide my professional services in support of an event with which I disagreed. Now, doing so might get me sued.
Four years ago, the government was not in the business of engaging in character assassination of private citizens. Now the full weight of the Presidential bully pulpit has been leveraged to attack Rush Limbaugh, Charles and David Koch, Sheldon Adelson, and others by name. Meanwhile, the Senate majority leader, in violation of Senate rules, took to the floor of the chamber and gave what was essentially a campaign speech, accusing the other party’s candidate of committing felony tax fraud without a shred of evidence. The nation, collectively, shrugged.
Four years ago, I lived in a country that celebrated success in business and understood that the private sector is the economic engine of the country. Now I live in a country that demonizes profit, persecutes successful businessmen solely because they are successful businessmen, and bought into dastardly attacks on the character of a Presidential candidate that stemmed solely from the fact that he demonstrated the knowledge required to run a successful enterprise.
Four years ago, I lived in a country where I was free to express an opinion on a political, social or economic issue without being branded a racist. That is no longer the case.
Four years ago, President-elect Obama said in his victory speech, “As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, we are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.” Yesterday he won reelection based on a strategy described by democratic advisors as, “Kill Romney.”
Four years ago, I lived in a country with a 208-year tradition of peaceful transfers of power from one party to another. Now I live in a country where hundreds of people threatened rioting and violence if the candidate I voted for was elected.
Four years ago, I lived in a country that prized self-reliance and accomplishment, while still ensuring that those who were less fortunate were cared for. Today I live in a country that voted to reelect a President whose platform consisted largely of “more free stuff.”
Four years ago, I lived in a country where people protested in the streets because a President imprisoned enemy combatants without trial in Guantanamo. Yesterday, those same protesters voted to reelect a President who summarily orders U.S. citizens as young as 16 years old to be executed without trial via drone strike.
Four years ago, I lived in a country which had just overwhelmingly elected a black man to the White House for the first time and was joyously celebrating another step closer to Martin Luther King Jr’s dream that we might all one day be judged not by the color of our skin, but by the content of our character. This morning I woke up in a country where the hashtag #fuckwhitepeople was trending on Twitter.
How far we have come in four years.
Benjamin Franklin is widely credited with having said, “When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.” As a nation, we reached that point long ago and plenty of blame belongs to both parties for that. But I fear that last night we crossed a line from which we may not be able to retreat – not because the President was reelected, but because of how and why. We looked at the disastrous fiscal policies of states like California and Illinois, and instead of saying “we need to do something better to avoid their fate,” we said “more like that, please!”
We endorsed the exportation of California’s and Illinois’ economies to the federal level. We have, perhaps irrevocably, decided as a nation NOT to do anything to address the horrific overspending that this administration (and its predecessor, and their predecessors across both parties and many administrations) have heaped upon us. I fear that the only way out now is through. This administration clearly has no interest in addressing that crisis, having caused a fair portion of it. To the extent that they DO demonstrate an interest, they have also demonstrated an utter lack of anything remotely resembling any idea of how to do so. We as a country just looked into the eyes of the two people who were proposing real solutions to a very real problem and said, “no thank you.”
No, that’s not quite right. We weren’t nearly so polite to Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. We didn’t say “thank you for your service, but we’d prefer the other guy.” Instead, through months of character assassinations, personal attacks and outright lies, we gave them a big, collective “Fuck You.” We largely ensured that anybody who has even a hint of an idea for how to keep us from falling off the looming fiscal cliff is going to keep it to themselves lest they wind up being declared “Public Enemy Number One” as Romney and Ryan were. The third rail of U.S. politics is alive and well, and it doesn’t matter that we are going to be terrified to touch it now. Very soon, it will certainly reach out to touch us.
I fear for the world into which my son will grow up. I fear the world we have created for him.