Two major events happened in American history yesterday. Tuesday November 6th, 2012 saw the official release to the public of the new Ed Hale and the Transcendence album The Great Mistake, one of the tastiest catchiest collections of garage-pop and celebration-rock of all time… and one other thing which for some reason escapes me at the moment…. Gosh what was it…? Hhhhmmm… Oh yeah, that’s right… the United States held another General Election, which among other things voted to keep President Barack Obama in the White House for another four years. Some would call that a great mistake. Though in the circles that our little awesome team runs in, both here at home and abroad, this outcome was not only expected but met with joyous enthusiasm.
It is hard to imagine what last night’s victory speech would have looked, sounded and felt like had it been Mitt Romney standing up there speaking rather than His Holiness, the Great Professor, the Stoic One, the Staunch Leader with the Backbone of Steel, President Barack Obama. Though there were little rural counties all over the electoral map of this great country that bled bright red after voting Republican, nearly all major metropolitan areas and big cities stayed true blue and voted to keep the Rational Voice of Reason in his coveted Oval Office chair for another term. As usual his victory speech was a spectacle to behold, not only in terms of the sheer number of people who crowded together all over the world to listen to his words with rapt attention in more community environments rather than at home alone, but also because of the way he speaks, his graceful, near effortless and powerful oratory skills, but most of all to hear the content of his combination of words and to listen to what he had to say.
Not since F.D.R., Kennedy or Reagan has a U.S. President held a people as captivated or spellbound as Obama. The honor is well deserved. One is struck inside by a sincere feeling that he genuinely means every word he says. In the twelve months of campaigning leading up to his re-election, President Obama didn’t shift his stated policies or platforms as many are opt to do in presidential elections in order to grab more independent voters or swing states. He didn’t flip flop. He didn’t swing Right or sway more Left. Love him or hate him, he stayed himself. And that kind of sincerity and genuine backbone is a rare commodity in modern American politics. Especially among presidential candidates.
One could argue that it was one of the many things that guaranteed Obama the re-election. Especially when considering the actions of his opponent. A man by the time this is read will probably be largely forgotten as most losing presidential candidates are — they don’t die, they just fade away into a hazy oblivion, but also a man who shocked the American people and indeed many people all over the world as being so flimsy and shady in his beliefs and viewpoints that even right up to the night of the election most people still did not feel that they really knew or understood who he was or what he stood for. His name was Mitt Romney. And last night’s election was as much a referendum to rid our soil of his type as it was to re-elect the current president.
Social Media was abuzz for the last twelve hours from people of all ages, races, nationalities, social classes and creeds excited that once again the majority of America elected a rational voice of reason rather than one of fear and bigotry. Last night I Tweeted that the results of the election were more of a mandate against racism, religious isolationism and radical extremism than pro-Barack Obama. Never before in our lifetime have we seen a political party, as evidenced by the Republican Primaries earlier this year, so antiquated, so backward, so old fashioned, and so extreme in their beliefs. At one point in the Republican Primary debates when the subject of capital punishment came up, the audience in attendance erupted into applause. During another occasion, this strange robotic Tinman-like figure called Romney declared that in order to solve America’s illegal immigrant problem he would hope and encourage illegal immigrants of all ages to “self deport” themselves. Though no one was quite sure what the hell he meant by it, on the night of the election, Republican Strategist Ana Navarro stated “Mitt Romney self deported himself right out of this election!”
And so it was with Latinos, who voted against Mitt Romney by a sweeping 76 to 23%; so too it was with women, gay people, Jewish people, Muslim people, non-religious people, college educated persons, young people, African Americans, and anyone the least bit worldly, cosmopolitan, free thinking or progressively minded. The Republican party of today is singularly minded: they are white and Christian. No longer concerned for personal freedom and liberty, as in the golden days of true Jeffersonian Republicanism, they want to ban and regulate women’s rights to reproductive health and everyone’s right to marriage and family, i.e. as long as you are one man and one woman you can get married and have a family; if not, then you’re shit out of luck because they want to stop you through governmental regulation and constitutional amendments. That isn’t Republicanism. It’s a strange breed of antiquated Puritanical Christian values from the 1500s and wealthy white men who couldn’t care less what country they’re fucking with as long as they’re passing laws that make them wealthier.
It’s ironic when looking at the electoral college map in regards to who votes blue and who votes red that the same people who were against a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery one-hundred and fifty years ago feels perfectly content to pass one to ban equal rights for same sex couples. True democratic progress in America seems to always come from the Northeast, the Midwest and the West Coast, from the big cities rather than the rural suburbs.
I was besieged with Tweets, DMs and Facebook Messages last night from friends who felt great relief that we wouldn’t be forced to endure four years of yet another numb-skulled Republican White House administration as we did during the Bush years, some of the most disturbing in all of American history. One friend from Florida wrote, “Tonight was a great win for all us women who came out of those binders to stick up for our equal pay and equal rights under the law. The Republican party today is a joke IMO and cannot be taken seriously.” Her sentiment seemed to echo most of my generation and the generations below it and above it, entertainers, artists, athletes, public figures, celebrities as well as regular folk; literally anyone with a brain it would seem. Or a heart.
I wrote back simply, “I couldn’t agree more K. So many people keep saying it. But even this morning Laura Ingram on Fox declared that “the Republicans do not need to become more moderate in order to win.” I’d cynically agree with her. They don’t need to become more moderate to “win”. They need to become more moderate to even be relevant. If this election was anything (and it was; a BIG thing on many counts) it was a referendum on how out of touch the Republican party is with the majority of average everyday Americans on social issues. The day after the election a Romney Adviser told CNN that “we really thought that we were going to win this race,” a statement which if really true goes to show just how out of touch the Republican party is today with the American people. There wasn’t an intelligent observer alive in America who had called the election to go to Mitt Romney. From objective journalists to third-party pollsters to Las Vegas bookies, all odds were for another landslide victory for President Obama. Which is exactly what happened.
“The Repub party of our youth used to be all about personal freedom and liberty and fiscal conservatism, not trying to control every aspect of our lives like this new breed is recommending. It’s flat out frightening. (the re-election of Michelle Bachman (yes it’s true) is a perfect example of how scared rational thinking people should be.) Their mandate should be “fix the economy and stay out of our homes and personal lives.” As it used to be.”
In an environment when States are now voting to approve the legalization of marijuana and four states approved laws legalizing same sex marriage in one night, you simply can’t be more out of touch than the current crop of Republicans. Their platform is so damn confusing that it is impossible to understand the mindset of the people who claim to be registered Republicans. One guesses that a good majority of them were born and raised that way and are simply spewing the same limited government (except when it benefits themselves) and bigoted rhetoric that they grew up hearing from their parents. Whereas the democratic party seems to be precisely the opposite: a cornucopia of a wide range of people who have flocked to the Democratic party from a wide variety of different viewpoints and parties because to be Democrat now means moderation, logic, compassion and tolerance.
But what’s good for the goose should be good for the gander. Both parties need to get something: this is not about your party winning or losing. It’s about serving the American people and their stated interests and desires. Political elections may appear from the outside to be run like competitive sport; but no one should be so short sighted as to believe that at their core that’s what politics is. It isn’t sport. It’s service. Over the last eighteen months the American people were bombarded from every side by this theme of competition, as if the election were more about “whose side is the best or most popular”, rather than what it really was about: which party — out of at least six — are most prepared to meet the needs of the people. (This is a topic that is so important that it should be saved for another day and its own entry. But at the core of the subject is the suffocating stranglehold the two-party system has on American politics and how they have slowly fooled the American populace into believing that they are participating in some kind of public championship in professional sports, choosing sides, picking winners and losers, going to rallies and fundraisers… All may be significant aspects of democratic politics during campaigns, but that’s where the competitive mentality should end. Once elected, politicians should remember that what they really are are public servants, not winning horses at the Kentucky Derby. The rallying cries, campaign slogans, chest pounding and victory marches should stop; and the business of getting on to the business of serving the American people should begin.
There is a feeling of dire urgency in the air in America right now. Even among all the happy feet and happier faces, most are well aware that there are grave dilemmas facing the president, the senate and congress in their next term. Gridlock is a term that is brought up repeatedly in the media, both before and since the election. One way that all parties concerned can avoid this treacherous outcome would be to truly reach across the aisle in old fashioned Senator McCain style and start compromising to create solutions to the many problems that are facing us as a nation.
We have no guarantee that President Obama has any intention of doing this, even though he announced he did during his victory speech. One way he could surely show good faith in this direction would be to invite former Governor Mitt Romney to accept a cabinet position in his new administration. Not that Romney would accept such an invitation. But if he were serious about his assertions that he would work hard to reach across the aisle in the campaign promises of the last thirty days of his election bid, then he would at least consider it. Not only would it inspire many of his fellow Republicans who allegedly backed his bid for president, one guesses that the whole country –especially the economically anemic Obama administration– would most likely benefit from it. Be it Secretary of Commerce or Trade or even an entirely new position especially created for him, anything having to do with business and finance could probably benefit from Romney’s successful career as a private sector businessman. It would also make one hell of a statement to a very divided American people, that compromise is not a dirty word and that working together is just about the most American thing we can all do right now. Whether or not this will or even could ever happen is yet to be seen. But it should at least be considered. The fear of Romney’s political party’s draconian stance on social issues would be squashed, and the Obama-Biden White House may just learn a thing or two about how to grow an economy.