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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Hello Again, Mr. President.




The party's over folks; there's nothing left to see here. The 2012 election is complete. There are no more messages to approve, and no more he-said-she-said fact-checking spreadsheets to fill out. And finally, you don't have to hear about anymore "statistics" from those friends and family members who all seemed to have acquired a PhD in political science overnight. You no longer have to entertain their inane convictions derived from "insider" information (which really means: the internet) they've somehow acquired. Suddenly, going into the refrigerator for an couple of eggs is easy again; you won't have to worry about getting caught up in a CrossFire debate on the way to the toilet in the morning. Yes, now you can take a shit in peace.

Barack Obama is the President of the United States, once more. And while that fact satisfies me to no end, there still exists this shitty part of me that wants to grab every damn microphone from the hands of live news reporters, and scream into it:

I TOLD YOU SO!    (B*TCH)


But the "I told you so" gloating move works best when the outcome is something unexpected—or at the very least, unlikely. I mean to say that, whether you were an Obama supporter or not, you might have severe brain damage if you ever thought Mitt Romney had a shot at being the next president. If you were watching carefully, defeat was written all over Mitt's face and body language during the final debate; his lack of confidence in speech, that creepy-awkward smile, and the desperate clinging to cookie-cutter phrases and Republicanisms revealed a deeper doubt in himself than onlookers saw in the previous debates. But Mitt gave himself away completely in a devastating gaffe that revealed his premonition of Obama's re-election:

"Well, first of all, I — I want to underscore the — the same point the president made, which is that if I’m president of the United States, when I’m president of the United States, we will stand with Israel…"

Throughout the entire 2012 election campaign, Mitt had used the  phrase "when I'm president" as a means of subliminally influencing citizens into accepting him as their next president. Yet, in the third and final presidential debate, he cut his sentence short after using the phrase "if I'm president", almost coming to a complete full stop before back tracking to replace "if" with "when". The interesting thing about this devastating slip-up is the way in which he brought attention to the phrase itself. This means to say that viewers may have missed the importance of the phrase completely, preserving the efficacy of all his previous efforts, had he not drawn attention to it so explicitly. But the damage was done, and it was a train wreck. Most people were able to catch that one glimpse of doubt, and from there, his whole subliminal strategy unraveled along with his remaining confidence.

But listen, Mitt's downfall wasn't brought about by gaffes alone—that last one just sealed the deal. Most of what made it easy to predict that Obama would be re-elected are things that most people understand intuitively. Let's take a look at the list.


Moderation.

Regardless of party affiliation, most Americans are actually quite moderate. Though party lines create a stage and outlet for the DETAILS of political issues to be expressed in more extreme ways, people aren't so extreme in their true thinking. And, what's more, is that both Democrats and Republicans actually agree on broader issues which express a more moderate viewpoint:


  • 72% of Americans agree that "differences in income are too large"
  • 68% reject the notion that the distribution of wealth and income is fair
  • 68% agree that government "must see that no one is without food, clothing, or shelter"
  • 87% agree that "government should spend whatever is necessary to ensure that all children have really good public schools they can go to"
  • 81% "favor own tax dollars being used to help pay for early childhood education in kindergarden and nursery school"
  • 80% "favor own tax dollars being used to help pay for retraining programs for people whose jobs have been eliminated"
  • 73% agree that "it is the responsibility of the federal government to make sure that all Americans have healthcare coverage"


As a running candidate, President Obama tended to present the actions, speech, and policy ideas of a moderate. And in his representation of those ideals, which most Americans agree with when asked outside the context of party views, he appealed to the majority of U.S. citizens. Mitt Romney couldn't do this. His aggressive attacks in the first two debates, his insisting on talking over the moderators, his plans to explicitly label China "currency manipulators", and his implications of higher military spending and a willingness to go to war—all of these things represent a more extreme approach to the presidency that most Americans really don't agree with. Obama didn't propose to shutdown private healthcare, he proposed another option to help keep insurance companies accountable; he didn't propose to dismantle our military, he ended a war and wants to cutback unnecessary military spending; he isn't destroying the free market and erecting government run businesses in their stead, he's asking that businesses be held accountable for cheating tax codes and pay a tribute to U.S. citizens when they invest in the outsourcing of jobs.

The really interesting thing about Mitt Romney is that he thought he understood Americans; he imagined that they valued strength and aggressiveness, and so, he tried desperately to show those attributes during the debates. This idea banked on the highly polarized thinking that many Americans often exhibit, the kind of "all or nothing" mentality that can be seen so pervasively throughout our culture. The deal was that, if he could go all out, then people would think he's the real deal; if people thought he was the real deal, then he might garnish enough respect to win their vote. But, the funny thing is, the very same polarized thinking he had hoped would pay off in the end, actually, defeated him. You see, American thinking has a hair trigger; you can be the good guy today and the villain tomorrow. It's true that we like people who show strength and can represent themselves aggressively. Yet, there is an invisible line, (a threshold), that when crossed, just makes you an asshole with no tact. Mitt Romney went from assertive, to aggressive, to school bully in a heartbeat. We don't like bullies in America; we bomb them.


The First Black President.


Are you really going to deny the first black president a full ride? Well, if you are, then you're a heartless, racist, conservative who probably owns slaves. Aren't you!? Okay, that's completely over the top. But, seriously, while it's certainly not the reason that people voted for President Obama, its definitely not far from people's minds. Given the gravity of having a black president, an event which inspired the entire world to cry for our social progress, I think there are few people that wouldn't want that to last until the very last day allowed by law. For the first time, the world—and indeed the majority of non-white U.S. citizens—can see themselves better reflected in the brown-skinned face of the leader that commands the most powerful nation in the world. That's not something you hang up on after four years; you ride that shit out the whole way. All or nothing, baby.



The 47% say FU.


You're not going to get away with calling 47% of Americans freeloaders who don't want to take personal responsibility, and then go live in the White House. That's just not how we operate. We may be divided on many issues, but we're not idiots. You can't talk shit, put us down, and then expect us to put you in charge. You must be insane. Step off, son.


My Five Sons.


Obama has an advantage in having two daughters and no sons. It means that he understands women and the need for young girls to grow up strong in a culture that is run predominantly by men. Women's issues have become a HUGE deal in the analysis of government leaders. All candidates who wish to represent the people of the United States will undoubtably be scrutinized and prodded for any trace of misogyny that may or may not exist within them. Obama passes this test as the father of two daughters. By stark contrast, and sheer luck of the draw, not only does Romney NOT have any daughters, he has five sons. FIVE. With momma Romney behind the plate, that's almost a whole damn baseball team. So, along with having no experience raising girls, and that comment about "binders full of women", Mitt was no match for Obama on the female front.


Ohhhhhhhh Sandyyyyyy.


Hurricane Sandy may have destroyed a lot of New York and New Jersey coastline, but it may have saved Obama's ass in terms of likability. With all the statistics and fact slinging going on, people's heads were beginning to spin just trying to understand how such information added up to a better president. Presidents may be policy pushers, but they're also people, so, the kind of people they are really matters. It's extremely important for a president to be personable in such a way that people feel he/she is close to the action—not living in an ivory tower, disconnected from the citizens they represent. Sandy blew in at a critical time, too, when President Obama was under political fire for the terrorist attack in Libya, which resulted in the death of a U.S. ambassador. Having wreaked severe damage to such a high profile coastal area, the eyes of the entire nation were on the president's every move concerning the relief effort. The hurricane disaster gave President Obama the opportunity to create a stark humane contrast against the failed efforts of FEMA under Republican President Bush, while also focusing national conversations away from the security failure in Libya. This was a unique and critical moment for the president, as only he had the power to show what a good president can do, whereas, Mitt could only stand by on the sidelines. President Obama was successful, too. In fact, his bipartisan efforts to expedite aid and recovery to damaged areas even garnered praise from conservative governor Chris Christie (which is one reason I actually like Christie: his natural leadership qualities don't allow him to play politics under serious circumstances, even if I don't agree with all of his policies).


Same 'ol Song.


Look, one of the main reasons that Democratic candidates like Barrack Obama have come to represent more of the majority's thinking is because Democratic ideas have kept pace with the times. Democratic policies and discussions tend to be more progressive in respect to the social growth of a modern society. In stark contrast are the stale and rigid policies of the Republican party, whose conservative approach continues along the same path, despite social and cultural revolutions. To quote a good friend of mine:


"We've had four states decriminalize pot in some form, and two states legalize gay marriage in a single election cycle, but the GOP is steadfast against both fronts."


It's also noteworthy that Obama married a lawyer who went to the best university in the country, while Romney married a homemaker. Now, don't get me wrong: there's nothing wrong with marrying a homemaker. I'm simply saying that the president and first family are, in a way, an unofficial representation of American families and their values. Maybe the Romney's would've had a shot in the 1950's, however, now, most of the American public can't relate to a wife that doesn't work—we value women who are educated and ambitious in the work force. In a socially progressive society, and especially one that often requires that both parents work, the average person can't see their values reflected in the Romney model. Basically, if the GOP wishes to stay competitive against Democratic candidates, they're going to need to open their minds a little more and get with the times.



Continuity.


You know the widely popular axiom:

Don't start what you can't finish.



Obama began a string of policies meant to create a better America, though, the fruits of those efforts are just NOW beginning to show signs of blossoming. I think, even for those who are unsure about the future, it's important to have a president that is familiar with the policies already in place, someone who's well liked by the majority of the world, and a person who doesn't have history of flexing military muscle every chance he gets. So, people actually seek continuity, they want to see the end results of policies put in place four years ago—because, truly, four years isn't enough. It would be complete waste to change gears right now. If Mitt were elected, you'd have the classic problem that research scientist always encounter. And that is: (what actually caused the outcome?) If you wanted to know which medicine will make you better, A or B, it's not helpful to mix the drugs so that you'd couldn't tell which remedy worked. Signing Obama on for another four years will give both the American people and our leaders a chance to see what really works, and how we might base our future course on the failure or success of fully matured decisions.