Monday, November 3, 2008


Unless the polls and pundits are completely wrong, tomorrow Barrack Obama will be the President Elect of the United States of America.

Obama is showing a comfortable lead in both the popular vote and in the electoral college.

He could still lose, of course. Liberals always talk about grass roots movement, and power to the people, and getting out the youth vote. Liberals will march and knock on doors and make signs and answer polls. But then when it actually comes time to vote, well they're always off saving the whales or something and never quite seem to make it into the voting booth.

But, this time around, well if they actually do go vote - Obama will be President.

Conservatives are understandably pissed. A rather large number of conservatives have more or less already conceded defeat, either declaring that the democrats have rigged the vote or that they're just not going to vote at all. I've read a number of comments from conservatives, both online and in email, in the last couple of days that state emphatically if Obama wins they're going to move to Canada (Hyperbole aside, I find the threat of moving to Canada to get away from what they perceive as a socialist presidency especially hysterical. Good luck with that, Republicans, really. Oh, and you know Canada is not going to let you bring your guns, right?). Frankly, if tomorrow goes as projected, a lot of conservatives are going to be gnashing their teeth and clenching their fists and crying in their beer.

Too damned bad.

Tomorrow, McCain is most likely going to have to make that call - the one where he graciously concedes the race to a black man with the middle name of Hussein. And a lot of Conservatives just can't understand how this could happen. John McCain himself shows every indication of a man who simply can not understand why he is losing - and like most people who seem to think they're not being understood, his response is to keep repeating the same message, more and more loudly. What he, and his supporters simply don't seem to grasp is this: a majority of Americans do understand exactly what he's saying - they just don't agree with him.

Let's see if I can spell it out:

First, try to imagine how big of a lead Obama would have if he wasn't a black man with the middle name of Hussein.

Second, the simple truth of the matter is that a large majority of Americans are sick and tired of what the Republican party has become.

Up until recently, I was a republican. But, see, I grew up in the 60's. To me republicans were those guys in black pants, white shirts and skinny dark ties, the ones with the brush cuts and horn rimmed glasses. Democrats were the ones in bell bottoms and tie-died vests, the ones with long greasy hair and a bag of weed. Liberals would write science-fiction stories about going to other worlds. Republicans were those guys who actually landed Apollo on the moon and Viking on Mars, they were the steely-eyed missile men who manned Mission Control with slide rules and a raw belief in science, technology, and engineering. Republicans were those guys who ran General Motors and IBM and Wall Street. Liberals were the ones who panhandled, and talked about divvying up the wealth and railed against 'the Man.' Republicans were those gray-haired guys who walked with a limp, who still had a chunk of shrapnel in their hip from that winter in the Ardennes or that beach on Saipan. Republicans were those guys who pulled out the spread sheets and calculators and demanded to know how much it was going to cost, Republican's were the smart guys who weren't going let the country get hoodwinked into some endless money pit. Democrats were the ones who said the cost didn't matter and that capitalism was a yoke on the necks of the working class. Republicans were the Scout leaders who taught us to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. Republicans were the ones who didn't run off to Canada when their draft number came up, and they were the guys who came home to be buried with honors beneath the green grass of Arlington. Democrats were the ones who burned their draft cards and their bras and voted for McGovern. Democrats were weak, ineffectual, tree-hugging hippies who wanted us all to live on communes and spend the rest of our lives stoned on organic hemp. Democrats were starry eyed dreamers, and while the ability to dream big dreams is important - democrats never seemed to follow through. They'd do sit-ins, and love-ins, and music festivals in support of the cause de jour, and leave somebody more responsible to clean up the roaches and the overflowing port-O-potties and the generic wine bottles and the dirty diapers after it was over - and the people usually cleaning up the mess were republicans. Republicans went to college and studied science, engineering, medicine and took ROTC. Democrats were Liberal Arts majors who spent so much time protesting outside the Student Union that most of them never actually managed to graduate, or if they did they went off and joined the Peace Corps and fed poor people in other countries. Republicans were the ones taking care of America, Democrats were all singing and dancing and getting VD.

A biased and nostalgic view of the GOP? Oh yes, to be sure. But there is some truth in it.

There was always the religious part of the party. Conservatives were good God fearing American folks. Farmers and factory workers, who went to church on Sunday morning - didn't matter which one, as long as you went - and then drank PBR and watched football in the afternoons while their wives fixed the Sunday roast. There was always the Xenophobia, blacks were fine providing they didn't get 'uppity,' Mexicans were fine as long as they understood their place was in the fields or the orchards - as long as everybody understood that their place was on the correct side of the tracks everything was fine. Only liberals worried about the ERA and only radicals talked about Black Power.

But then, somewhere along the line things changed. Minorities stopped being content with second best, and stopped being minorities for that matter. There was the energy shortages and Watergate and a lost war. There was a recession and the collapse of the USSR and the emergence of China, India, and the European Union. Jobs went overseas. 'Made in America' became a rare phrase indeed to find on the bottom of products bought in American stores. The power balance shifted and we got things like Reaganomics and trickle-down strategies and bailouts and takeovers. And suddenly, without really noticing, the GOP has become the anti-science, anti-engineering, anti-abortion, anti-everything party, run by rich crazy religious zealots who seem to think the Earth is 6000 years old and that Noah kept dinosaurs as pets and that poor people are poor because that's what poor people do and that the environment is exactly how God wants it to be.

Over the last couple of decades, the GOP has stopped talking about "working" for America, and instead now talks about "fighting" for America. Republicans are at war, the War on Terrorism, the War on Drugs, the War on Communism and Socialism and Marxism and Atheism and Liberalism, the War on Illegal Immigration, the War on Poverty, the War on Elitism, the War against War.

Republicans don't work any more, they fight.

George W. Bush summed it up perfectly, you're either with us, or you're against us - and that's how many in the GOP seem to see America nowadays, either you're a Republican or you're an enemy of the state. Period. There is no middle ground. Republicans are Patriots with a capital "P," and depending on their age Democrats are socialists, or Arab Terrorists, or Marxists, or Dirty Commies (even though not one American in a hundred could actually explain what those terms mean without looking them up). If you're not a Christian, you're not a Patriot. If you're not a Patriot, you're not an American. Republicans no longer talk about America as a melting pot, a land of opportunity, a place where anyone can find the so-called American dream, a place where the the privileged help the poor and the tired and the wretched refuse of distant teeming shores. Republican leaders haven't yet used the term 'manifest destiny,' but it's there, implied, just under the surface. This is our land, us Straight Born Again White People, and if you don't like it well you can damned well get out. GOP leaders don't just disagree with with liberals, they fucking hate them. Hate them. If you're not one of us, you're our enemy.

And I think that message is exactly what John McCain has been saying. He came into this election as a decorated combat Veteran, a man who knew more of honor, courage, commitment, duty, and country than anyone else in the race. He came into this election as one of the most highly experienced US Senators, a guy that knew more about the economy, foreign relations, science, technology, and the military at the government level than just about anybody else in the country. He came into this election as a Senior Citizen, a man who should personally understand the burden of age on our increasingly aging population. He's a man who understands politics and Washington. And yet, and yet, his campaign has really focused on none of those things, he hasn't played to any of his strengths. Instead, he and his running mate have spent the last month vilifying Barrack Obama, the terrorist, the Arab, the Muslim, the Kenyan, the Socialist, the Elitist. Obama is not John McCain's opponent, he's the enemy of America.

John McCain's campaign is the embodiment of the Bush Doctrine, i.e. if you're not with me, you're my enemy. Here's my plan: look, over there, see that dark skinned guy with the funny name? Yeah, he's the enemy. Back me up, rally to my banner, follow me blindly - or the enemies of America will win. These people are stealing our country (and I'll leave it up to you to figure out who the "our" in "our country" is). We're losing the White House not because our message doesn't resonate with true Americans, but because there are more enemies than true Americans left. We've lost the Senate and the House not because Republicans got voted out, not because Republican Senators are going to jail in records numbers, not because righteous men were found cruising airport restrooms - no we've lost the majority because it was stolen from us! We must fight!

But here's the thing. Americans are still in large part Americans. A large number are worried about the economy and by extension the poor. They're tired of seeing the rich get richer and the poor get poorer and they're not convinced that being poor is entirely the fault of poor people - especially when they see a number of friends and family suddenly out on the street themselves. A large number of Americans are sick and tired of paying taxes so that Republicans can give their buddies on Wall Street and in Detroit big fat bailouts without any kind of plan for paying it back or any assurance that it won't happen again. A lot of Americans realize that the only time in the last twenty-fours years when we haven't had a staggering national deficit was under the liberal Clinton, and not under the helm of the 'fiscal conservatives.' A lot of Americans are getting older, and they wonder if maybe American science could save them from spending the last decades of their lives as mindless husks eating baby food through an IV if only their president didn't veto every stem-cell medical bill that crosses his desk. A large number of Americans are worried about the environment and are savvy enough to see that we need to do something other than deny the evidence before our eyes. A large number of Americans are sick of being told what to believe, who to marry, who to love. A lot of Americans have American friends with names like Jesus, Manolo, Muhamed, and Hussein and they don't like it when the government calls those people terrorists just because they happen to have dark skin - they remember when their own grandparents were interred in camps right here in the American because they were Issei. A large number of Americans are sick and tired and Goddamned angry about sending their children off to die or be maimed in a foreign land, for no damned reason that they can understand, for a lie. A large number of Americans are sick and tired and Goddamned madder than hell about their vanishing rights, about the erosion of the Constitution, about being treated like terrorists in their own airports and on the streets of their own country because of their name, or their skin color, or their religion.

And I'm one of them.

One day I sat down and looked at the things I believe in and realized that none of those things are what the Republican Party stands for anymore. Not one. And I went down and changed my voter registration to undeclared. Really, it's as simple as that - the GOP simply does not represent anything that I believe in. And I don't think I've changed much over the years.

And tomorrow will tell if I'm in the majority or not.

The polls would seem to indicate that I am, and that gives me hope for the future of this country.


  1. Republicans also used to be fairly strict Constitutionalists. Hey, they read the document. They used to be more fiscally conservative as well.

    As an independent, I've though long and hard before I made a choice for who I would vote for president. But I can not, in good conscience, vote for more of what already is, which is what I believe the McCain ticket represents. And with all due respect to your governor, I could never vote for a ticket that has Gov. Palin on it, for oh so many reasons from her belief that we're at war with Iran (November 1st interveiw with Fox News' Greta van Susteren) to her complete lack of understanding of the Constitution to her low-brow pandering to various groups.

  2. Well, if it's any help I wouldn't vote for her again either.

    I'm not going to go back and change my previous posts - BUT, I've learned a few things about Sarah Palin since I wrote them. I've gotten to see her on the National stage, and frankly I more than a bit embarrassed.

    I wrote what I wrote about her, because that's what I believed at the time, and I wanted people to reserve their opinions and judge her on her actual merits and performance. She's demonstrated that those merits are few and far between, and that she's not only ignorant and unprepared but that she embodies all the worst things about the current NeoCon GOP, i.e. the things I mentioned in this post. I doubt anybody from Alaska will get a shot at national office anytime in the foreseeable future because of the example she's set.

    One thing her run for VP has done for her? It's lost her my vote for reelection as AK's governor - and if we're lucky it's ended her political career. She can go back to being a hockey mom and stop making our state look like morons.

  3. Jim,

    It's not just you. My grandmother who was all but born and raised a Republican, and remained a Republican while being married to a Democrat (how many women did that in the 40s and 50s) is not happy with Bush, and has said repeatedly she thinks she is going to vote for Obama.

    Funny thing is what I am seeing now of the R party is what my perception of Republicans has always been (family not withstanding). I think of Reagan and his railing against the Soviet Union and thinking he was going to blow us all up. I think of Reagan and his failure to support AIDS research. I think of Newt and his "Contract with America" which I saw as a way to screw the poor.

    My belief has always been that we are required to help those who cannot help themselves, and that has shaped my politics for my entire life.

    To me, the fundamentals of the two parties has always the focus on "saving the unborn" versus "saving the already born".

    Hope that was coherent.

  4. Jim, my political evolution has been very similar to yours. I was raised in a Republican household and started my voting career on the conservative side of the fence.

    I never was a registered party member, though, always undeclared. In fact, I'm a huge believer in a viable multi-party system because I believe the two-party system limits us too sharply.

    Slowly, as the GOP has changed and become more shrill, I've grown disenchanted. Separation of church and state is a huge issue for me, and the current culture of a de facto religious test for public office is distressing.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your passion on the subject of pluralism and civil liberties with us. By the end of your post I was standing up and cheering. Where can I vote for you? ;)

  5. Both sides of my family have serious big L libertarians. As a kid it always felt like the Democrats couldn't trust me to be responsible for myself and the Republicans couldn't trust me to make ethical decisions.

    Having people that scam and work the system in my immediate family used to cause me to align with the Rockefeller Republicans - fiscally conservative, socially liberal. There are no social liberals left in the Republican party, and I don't want them telling me or my friends how to live, or how we can't live.

    Economically I've become more liberal because I've realized that I'm paying for others no matter what, and I'd rather it happened up front.

    Health care, I don't know of a single health care provider that won't tell you that health care in the USA is fundamentally broken. I've no idea what the most effective fix would be, but what we got sure doesn't cut it. Especially the VA system. We have a lot of vets up here, and the service (ha!) they recieve is shameful.

  6. Well said Jim. And I agree with Jeri - I could never live somewhere with such a narrow list of options. Here we have five parties in parliament who constantly keep each other in line. It's still not perfect, but I think it works better than what you guys have to endure; never having lived in the states I can only venture an uninformed opinion. However, with all the talk of America being the heart of democracy it seems like your farther from it than many countries. Whichever way you vote, you still only have a choice of two at the end of the day. And given the fact that the pres can veto pretty much anything if he doesn't agree with it, it limits the democratic process even more.

    Whichever way it goes tomorrow I wish the States the best. It will be truly historic in the sense that whichever party wins a minority will be either number one or number two in power. I know McCain picked Palin for just that reason, but it's still significant. Let's see if the winner can put aside all of the party crap and just fix the mess they've inherited.


  7. Like Michelle, I'm not really seeing a new side of the Republican party: but then I was born during Watergate and came of age during the Reagan years. I guess I can understand how perceptions would be different for somebody who came of age at a time when the expression "Goldwater conservative" was redundant.

    My Dad's side of the family has a lot of Republicans, and it's a funny thing that they're basically liberals now--and not because they've changed. My Grandmother's politics are pretty much what they've been for a very long time, but her party has moved so far to her right that she'd be more comfortable with centrist, Clintonian Democrats so long as they mentioned neither Democrats nor Bill Clinton.

    We have an interesting four-to-eight-plus years ahead of us, no matter how it goes.


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