The 2012 Presidential Election

I have had a couple of days to savor what took place on Tuesday and I think I ready to share my thoughts.

I realize most people are burned out by election coverage and the last thing they want to read right now is one more person sharing their thoughts. Even I, the guy who usually cannot get enough of this stuff is suffering from election fatigue today. But I think this is too important to not say something.

I think the first thing that needs to be said, and this comes as no surprise to me, Nate Silver had this thing locked down. I cannot count the number of right-wing people I spoke with or read about on Facebook or other outlets who were convinced, Convinced!! that Romney was going to win, and it wasn’t going to be close. Go back, read what I wrote, I had absolutely zero fear that President Obama was not going to win, and the reason for my optimism was Nate Silver and 538. This wasn’t some magical guess, there was no surprise Tuesday night, the state-by-state polls were right from the beginning and Nate’s formula accurately reflected that.

The problem for the Fox News crowd, and the people who I read on Facebook (I am so tempted to rub this in to a few people) is that they refused to believe that Silver was right, that their simply are more people who self-identify as Democratic than there are Republicans.

I predicted on Twitter Tuesday that President Obama would win 326 electoral votes. He will have 332 when Florida is (finally!!!) called for him. This wasn’t some wacky projection coming from a hopeful liberal. I read 538, I believed in Nate Silver’s math and I won the Electoral College portion of our ReElection Party board (more on this later).

I have dedicated myself to listening to Rush Limbaugh and watching Fox News over the course of the last few days. What I heard prior to the election was a group of people who believed with absolute certainty that their candidate was going to win, and it wouldn’t be close.

A really interesting dynamic has started to take shape. Both sides, right and left have found news sources and information that reaffirms their world view. For Conservatives this is Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, The National Review, Drudge etc. They build a narrative. Put it out, and it bounces around in their echo chamber, being repeated over and over by each member of the group until it becomes “fact”. Benghazi is a perfect example of this, and I will circle back to it.

The same thing happens on the left to a degree, but with an important difference. For me, I know I am Progressive. I cannot stand prolonged exposure to the right wing echo chamber, because their version of reality is so frustrating for me  that I retreat to what I like, Maddow, Chris Hayes etc. In doing so, I am going to have my perspective reaffirmed, as I am going to hear things from a similar perspective to what I already believe. Therefore, it is incumbent upon me, as a curious and engaged citizen to seek out alternative news sources, or to fact-check those that I read to ensure that I am getting the full picture.

This last part is where right-wing media fails people who are consuming it, and those who are consuming it fail themselves. Anyone who believes that President Obama has doubled the deficit, or cut work requirements for welfare, or has raised the unemployment rate or taken people guns, or wasn’t born in this country simply has not fact-checked their sources. These things did not happen. Period. Every person on this planet has their own unique perspective on events that take place on it. Each person forms their own opinion based on what they perceive. This is human nature and it happens. Two people can witness the same event and walk away with two completely different views of what happened.

But, and this is the key to the 2012 election, Facts do not have two sides. Facts are not biased. Our interpretations of those facts carry our personal biases, but the fact itself has no bias. We may not like it. It may run contrary to our world view, but a fact it remains.

The fact is, President Obama was leading in the polls in September. He was leading in the polls after the Debacle in Denver on October 3rd. He was leading following the 2nd and 3rd debates where he wiped the floor with Mitt Romney. He was leading following Hurricane Sandy. These are facts. Mitt Romney may have had some momentum following the 1st debate, but by the time election day rolled around, President Obama was the clear favorite and the results of the election bear this out.

Steven Benen at Maddow Blog describes this phenomenon

Anyone who watched Fox News Tuesday night saw the collision that took place between a group of people who had so insulated themselves within their bubble that they were convinced of a Romney win, and Facts. When Fox News called the election for Obama, they literally did not know what to do or say, because for months they had been told by every pundit on their channel that Romney would win. It was their opinion that Romney would win and it was based on gut feelings and hopes. The facts said something very different.

The Election of 2012 was a win for facts.

John Stewart says it far better than I can:

Watching Fox News and listening to Rush Limbaugh yesterday after the election I heard a group of people struggling to come to grips with how they could squeeze reality until it fit into the world view that they maintain. Conservatism at its core looks to return America to simpler time. Old White Men have run this country from its inception. Old White Men have been the power brokers in the country since day one. Old White Men are watching as the base of that power is eroding under their feet.

Our country is becoming younger, and (excuse this term as I don’t like it) browner, and more feminized. There are a group of people in this country for whom this is a literal nightmare. That group of people listen to Rush Limbaugh and watch Fox News. Rush literally could not understand how this happened on Wednesday. In the 20 minutes I listened to, I heard him say at least three times: “How did this happen?” The exit polling shows that Obama increased his share of young people, Latinos, African-Americans and women, and more of each of those groups voted than did in 2008. This is why right wingers thought the polling data was favoring Democrats, they could not believe that these groups would turn out in the numbers they did.

I listened to Rush, and Bill O’Rielly try to figure out how to do a better job pitching the Conservative message to these groups. Both Rush and Bill-O correctly stated that without gaining some portion of this electoral groups, the Republican party cannot win on a national level anymore.

But in saying that they reflected their fatal flaw. Rush listed Michael Steele, and Herman Cain, and Marco Rubio and basically said, “what’s wrong with our minorities?”. From Rush’s warped perspective simply looking like someone is enough to get people to vote for them. He is saying “Hey Latinos, we have Marco Rubio, he is Latino, vote for us!”

What they fail to grasp is that it isn’t a matter of doing a better job of selling the Republican Brand to minorities and women to get them to vote. The problem is with the brand itself. You cannot, as a party, support platforms that alienate entire groups of the American electorate, then try to sell yourselves to those same people by parading a line of token representatives of those groups. This is small-minded, 2oth century thinking and it cost the Republicans the Presidency. Adding Sarah Palin to the ticket in 2008 didn’t cause a wave or women, liberal or otherwise to say to themselves: “Fuck reproductive rights, and equal pay, and all that other stupid shit we have been fighting for for 200 years, Palin has a vagina, I have a vigina… John McCain!!!!! GO!!!!” John McCain lost in a landslide and it was due in large part to Sarah Palin, not despite her.

I wrote about this back in September. There is a coming Civil War within the Republican party. If they want to ever win a Presidential election again, they are going to have to find a way to divorce themselves from the wing-nutty conservatism of Todd Aiken, Richard Mourdock and Paul Ryan. Telling women that they do not have the right to choose, telling immigrants to self-deport, telling black people they are welfare-queens who don’t care about their future is a recipe for many more nights like Tuesday.

Tuesday night was a blood bath for Tea Party, Wing-Nut Conservatism. I am not talking about small-government Laize-Faire, free market conservatives who just want lower taxes. I am talking about the 44% of people in Missouri who voted for Todd Aiken. Your brand of “small government when it comes to taxes, government intrusion into a woman’s uterus and a homosexual couples home” is a loser on a national level.

Tuesday night was a dramatic win for the Progressive Movement.

Think about it this way. In a country as divided as we are, and bad as the economy has been, and negatively as the President has been portrayed by the right, Barack Hussein Obama won a second term and it was a landslide. Less people voted for Mitt Romney than did John McCain.

Having said all that. Watching Sean Hannity last night, you would have thought the President lost. He clearly decided to take the “this election doesn’t change shit” tact, and spent the better part of the night talking about Benghazi as if it were “Obama’s Watergate”. As elated as I am over the results Tuesday, not because it means I was right, but because what I think it means for the future of our country, I am realistic in that I know that the right-wing is not going to do what I personally think they should do and spend some serious time reflecting on what Tuesday night meant for their brand of fantasy. They are going to do what Sean Hannity did, and go on as if Tuesday never happened.

Let me finish with this.

As a student of history, I am fascinated by the importance of speeches. I say this with as little hyperbole as someone as prone to it can muster,  President Obama’s speech Tuesday night (Wednesday morning) will go down in history with the greatest Presidential speeches ever.

What Obama is calling for here is the kind of Progressivism that gave us the New Deal, 80 years of American prosperity based on the important role that Government plays in laying the foundation for a strong economy. Listen carefully to what he said, this is an absolute repudiation of Ayn Rand, pull-yourselves-up-by-your bootstraps, every man for themselves conservatism. This speech lays out a vision for progress through government action.

It is interesting that he references Kennedy here. Growing up, I remember hearing about the love affair that America had with the Kennedy’s. That there was something special about watching children grow up in the White House. I never understood this, until now. I cannot look at pictures of the Obama family, or hear him talk about Michelle and the girls without tearing up. Perhaps it is that I am the father of a little girl, but when he talks about them, I fall to pieces.

The inauguration is going to be amazing.

I realize I am an Obama partisan, and therefore, what I am about to say will most likely be taken with a grain of salt. But I am going to say it anyways, and I am going to say it because I mean it.

I think when all is said and done, long after the Obama Presidency has been laid to rest, Americans will look back and the question will not be was Barack Obama among the greatest Presidents that we have ever had?

I truly and honestly believe the question will be, was Barack Obama the greatest President in American History?

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