Happy to be here. Although I'd be a lot happier if you would put away that semi-auto.
"Sorry. Last night, we had spokespeople from the Democrats and Republicans on the show."
"Spokespeople?" Don't you mean, "professional apologists?"
"Whatever. I know it's not fair to lump you with the reactionaries, and I apologize."
You still aren't putting it away.
At least, put the safety on.
"Done, and done. So, the 2012 elections are in the book, where should we start the discussion? Should we...Peter? Your face looks weird."
Oh. I'm smiling.
"Ripping off jokes from cartoons again?"
I can't help it. I'm in a great mood. Something wonderful and special happened this Election Day.
"What are you talking about? You don't like Obama. You voted for Gary Johnson and participated in a joke campaign to elect a My Little Pony. Obama won. What could you find wonderful and special in that?"
Because it is the death of old school politics. It's over. The national party identity of the Republicans is a dinosaur, and it just got a stake in the heart. And it was suicide -- the Norsefire did themselves in.
"I don't follow."
To understand my point, you have to think about how the R's waged their campaign. Mitt Romney and the party gambled and lost everything.
"What, by making Romney the nominee?"
Nah. This would have happened with any R nominee. Mittens is just the one who got run over by the Kenworth known as the Modern World.
"Oh, you mean because of Romney's gaffes?"
No. Those slips were actually being overlooked by voters. Mittens had a bigger problem -- people thought he was going to turn into Chancellor Sutler.
"Aren't you overdoing it with the V For Vendetta references?"
Who did you vote for?
"I'm a professional journalist. I'm supposed to be impartial."
The election is over. Who did you vote for?
"...I voted for Obama."
Right. And we've talked about things Obama has done that are wrong or terrible or you disagree with. You didn't like him. You wanted him out of office. So why didn't you vote for Mittens?
"...I didn't trust Romney."
Bingo! The Republicans spent the whole campaign wagering on the outrage of the American people. That people were so incised at a black president, they couldn't wait to vote him out.
"Are you sure?"
Look at who they courted. Mitten's speech to the NAACP was not meant for the black audience in attendance, but the white viewers watching at home. Read the transcript, you'll see. Making banning abortion and gay marriage part of their campaign platform. Saying he would kill funding to Planned Parenthood. The demographic breakdown of the R voters were almost uniformly white. THIS is why Mittens didn't bother with a real plan for economic recovery. They didn't want the presidency to help the country. They wanted the presidency to save the country from a perceived threat. Strength through unity, unity through faith.
"...ah, so you're saying the voters didn't vote FOR Obama but AGAINST Romney."
Exactly. The world has changed. Even people who identify as Republican think banning gay marriage and the birth certificate bullshit and such doesn't matter. They want a president who is at least going to try to get things done, not just rebuild the mentality of the Reagan 80's. I hate Obama, everyone knows that. But I will give him props for one thing -- he's consistent. He wants to use the government to fix problems. It may not be working, but he's trying and he's staying the course, even when it costs him support. He genuinely believes he's doing the right thing. No matter what my feelings on his policies are, I have to salute him for being true to his principles. Given the choice between someone who is actively trying to make things better (whether or not he fails, he's at least searching for answers) or someone who doesn't care as long as another Stepford Family is in the White House, who do you think people are going to vote for?
"The world has changed."
It has. People don't care as much anymore about candidates' personal beliefs, they want representatives that do the job the taxpayers are paying them for. This was where the R's went off the rails. People didn't like Obama's policies The R's confused "not liking the job Obama was doing" for "not liking Obama." People were looking to the R's to do what they claim they support, less government intrusion, lower taxes, fiscal caution, stuff like that. The R's saw the support and missed the point. As their support numbers started to grow, they incorporated more of their ancient ideas like banning abortion and gay marriage. That wasn't what the people coming to them wanted, but they convinced themselves otherwise. Remember Santorum with his, "Americans want a conservative President". Yeah, as far as spending and regulations go, not "conservative" as he was defining it. Americans no longer view political parties as a shorthand for their social identity. The R's wagered that social identity politics would still work and would work against Obama, and that what the R's went through during the nominating process would help them.
"Hold on. Elaborate on that last point."
Gladly. When the R's were running their primaries, you had a different leader every few weeks. First, it was Bachmann. Then Santorum. Then Perry. Then Cain. Then Gingrich. And finally Mittens. Each of the candidates became leaders when whoever was in the lead in polls stopped being a cipher and started doing things that could be judged. Mittens waited so long to debate Obama because then, people would only know him from that point and with about a month to the election, too short a time for him to flame out. And Obama nearly got sunk by it. Negative campaigning is easy when you are a blank slate and have no record to defend. The first debate, Mittens had people talking about who this guy was and all the attention went to him. It was a repeat of the previous year, when "undecideds" went to someone without a clear reason why, just because they were newer to them than the candidate they were already being inundated with.
"Judging by the numbers, it almost worked."
Yup. And don't forget, I'm also one of the people who was worried a political fix was in, given the R's happily supplying voting machines that could be hacked with $20 in parts from Radio Shack, ten minutes, and two cups of coffee. This was old school politics, using every trick in the book. And it's a street pizza.
"So you were worried it would work."
Oh, you bet. All Romney's supporters had a vested interest in his victory and could have easily manipulated things to get him in the White House.
"So how did it fail? With all that power behind him, I would have thought Romney had it in the bag."
Obama fought back with good old fashioned Chicago Machine politics. Remember where he came from. Obama fortified his voting strongholds, urban areas and academia, and marched a get out the vote campaign. He made it so the margin of victory was enough there couldn't be any slick maneuvering. For Romney's plan to work, the vote had to be close enough for convenient lapses to occur. Obama made sure that was out of his reach in the big states, and it was over.
"So how is this the death knell for the politics you mentioned?"
Everyone in a position of power or to run in 2016 at the moment is from the old school. The one they just saw flame out entirely. The R's can no longer present a return to the days when women were in the kitchen, gays were in the closet, blacks were in the ghetto, and Muslims were in another country. If they want support, they have to change. People see how weaselly Mittens is and they don't want him. They would rather vote for Obama, who they may not like based on his approval rating, but at least he isn't treating those different from him as flaws. Better the devil you know. If the R's don't adapt to the times, they'll lose by a huge margin next time. They have gotten plenty of warnings that their exclusionism hurts them, and they completely disregarded it. They are looking at social irrelevancy. The days of old school politics are over, finally, once and for all.
"So, what do you see happening next for Obama?"
Obama understands his situation now. He didn't mention mandates during his victory speech. He knows he only won because the alternative was worse. I'm hoping he does some leadership. He has it in him. He got into a political knife fight with Hillary Clinton, after all. Businesses are afraid to hire or expand because they don't know what will come next from Obamacare or taxes. There are a lot of people who just want some straight answers they can build on. If he does that, things will begin moving forward.
"Do you think he will?"
I don't know. I'm just hoping and praying he will. He can create a legacy instead of just history, and given how things can work out, I am hoping he does. He's working with a Congress that also realizes no one gives a shit about their crusades, they want someone to fix the mess. They're stuck with each other, and there seems to be an air of resignation to that. So maybe, instead of posturing, they'll get things done.
"Like the fiscal cliff?"
Oh, they won't get to that until next year. There's just too much involved. I expect the lame duck sessions will gin up a stopgap measure and kick the can down the road.
"What do you think this means for 2016?"
A lot of Obama's staff jumped, expecting him to lose and to get ready for Hillary to run in 2016. Obama being re-elected throws a wrench into that, especially if the economy improves. Obama will have more clout with the party, and may be able to divert support to Biden instead of Hillary.
"Do you really think Biden is electable?"
No, he keeps saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. But it would keep the nomination away from Obama's chief rival.
"And who will the R's get?"
No idea, but I've got my eye on Boehner. If he turns around the House's approval rating, keeps the moron Tea Partiers under control, and works across the aisle, he could be the one to beat.
"Thank you again for being on the show."