Been reading through all of the election post-mortems, just trying to learn as much about why President Free-Stuff won and what this portends for our country. What I’ve found is ….interesting.
One of the better pieces thus far was from Slate.com, of all places. Not one of my usual ‘go-to’ sites, but I can’t argue with much of John Dickerson’s assessment.
Of the nine battleground states that were up for grabs, Obama won seven of them, losing only North Carolina (Florida remains to be called). But while Obama won those states, he didn’t crush it; he won instead, a string of precise narrow victories. He didn’t win because his leadership during Hurricane Sandy blew all those swing votes his way (though it may have helped). The president won because he ran a permanent campaign, keeping his offices open in the battleground states from his 2008 campaign, tending his coalition assiduously, and because he relentlessly defined his opponent. His was the better campaign. The Democratic candidate of “hope and change” beat the big business Republican in the trenches, in one state after another.
To paraphrase Alec Baldwin from ‘Glengarry Glen Ross‘, President Obama’s strategy all along was A-B-C: “Always. Be. Campaigning“.
And it worked.
President Obama’s tactical victory is clear when you look at the election returns. He has no grand mandate that comes out of Tuesday’s numbers. He has been re-elected, but his policies did not win the day. Voters didn’t turn their faces up to the vision he painted the way they did in 2008. When voters were asked which candidate had a vision for the future, Romney won that question in exit polls, 55 percent to 43 percent. Asked about Obama’s signature achievement, health care, voters did not approve. Forty-nine percent said they wanted it repealed in part or whole.
Voters also said the federal government was too large.
All true. Not devastating news; just sobering.
Now the candidate of “hope and change” must bind up his wounds and prepare himself for another round.
Half of the country is going to be upset by this outcome, and the president, who once knew how to make the music of reconciliation, will have to whip up some kind of stirring message in the months to come.
Which, I believe, will be vastly easier said than done. Obama’s victory speech to the contrary, President Populist has shown absolutely zero desire to reach across the aisle in the last four years. His version of compromise has been an insistence for everyone else to get with his program.
In addition to Dickerson’s observations above, I believe that we lost due to two major factors: social (and to me, rather stupid) issues, and education.
The social issues were the ones that I still can’t believe carried the day, yet they did. Binders full of women? Really? Big Bird? Birth control? Stupefying to political junkies, yet very real to the alarmingly uninformed ‘swing’ voters, or as I have called them in the past: the Oprah voters.
These folks couldn’t define GDP or articulate foreign policy for any candidate in the last 40 years if you gave them a multiple choice test with only two options.
Our friend Rick, over at Let’s Get Political blog, had an interesting post on this issue recently with which I wholeheartedly agree.
The other factor is education: our Public Schools immerse our children in a constant bath of misinformation, largely ignoring the great historical lessons of our nation’s past, replacing it with stories of perishing polar bears and greedy Republicans.
Most of these kids wouldn’t know the Federalist Papers if you slapped them with a Binder-clad collection of them. Thomas Paine? Never heard of him. Reagan? Hated the homeless and homosexuals, didn’t he?
And on, and on.
Progressive ideology is taught in schools at the earliest grades: in History, in English, heck, in Math. It’s tough to speak Objective Truth to someone who has been taught that ‘your’ truth is at best just a social construct or at worst, pure evil.
Our task going forward is difficult, but we have to face it. We need to continually address socially what we can no longer deal with strictly politically. Not enough people are invested in today’s politics, or possess even the basic knowledge of citizenship. It’s not “fun”, and the essential responsibility & necessity of political knowledge, of what is truly required of a free society’s citizenry, has never been properly explained to them.
Kinda’ hard to blame them completely for the crime of being denied a decent, thorough, Classical education.
Our nation has cultivated, for better or worse, an environment of ignorance, and we shouldn’t be surprised when we get ignorance in return.