Nov 05 2008

Not Quite the End of the World As We Know It

(On conservative forums this morning, there’s the usual doom-and-gloom, we’re-so-screwed hand-wringing going on, just as there was on the Left after the last two elections.  Bush didn’t crown himself King, suspend elections, and poison his enemies with arsenic, and Obama probably won’t either.  This is my response to one of the more hysterical ones.)

I think it’s a little soon to consign America to the satanic dustbin of history.  The worse candidate of two bad ones got a little over 50% of the vote.  That’s all.  It’s happened before; it’ll probably happen again.  I know it seems like the country loves this guy, because the media does.  (Including most of the loudest people on the Internet.  Watching Twitter’s #votereport channel yesterday, you would have thought Obama was winning 99-1.)

But the numbers don’t bear that out, and it’s clear that average Americans were not excited about voting for Obama.  The Democrats came into this election with every advantage.  All elections are a referendum on the last guy, especially when he’s had the full eight years, and people were very unhappy with Bush.  McCain insisted on running as “Bush II: Older and Angrier,” which only reinforced that idea.  The press was firmly in Obama’s camp, even more than they normally are for the Democrat.  Our spiritual leaders in Hollywood supported him overwhelmingly.  He outspent McCain 3-1 in battleground states, 20-1 in some of them.  High levels of immigration, legal and illegal, continue to push more states to the welfare party.  (Remember when California was a Republican state?)  The economy helped out, with decades-long trends in the stock market and investment industries coming to a head in the last couple months so they could be blamed on Bush.  Even Obama’s grandmother (God rest her soul) brought in some sympathy votes by dying two nights before the election.

Despite all that, it was a pretty close race that came down to a handful of states late at night.  I take that as a good sign that Americans are wary of Obama’s radicalism (what they’ve been allowed to see of it).  They just didn’t feel like they had much of a choice.  When a party’s slogan boils down to, “Yeah, we know our guy sucks, but the other guy is really dangerous,” that doesn’t inspire anyone.  A good candidate would have beaten Obama.  Even McCain would have, if he’d had the stones to go after Obama’s radical leftism head-on; but he couldn’t do that because it’s completely tied up with race, as Obama explains in his memoirs.

So there’s the silver lining: Americans, outside the newsrooms and universities, are not on board for the specifics of Obama’s agenda.  If he overreaches, he’ll get slapped down the way Bill Clinton did in 1994.  I think there’s a very good chance of that, because Obama seems to have less political savvy than Clinton.  He gives a very good speech, and his campaign did a good job of restricting him to scripted, TV-friendly appearances.  But when he ad-libs, as he did with Joe the Plumber or that talk in San Francisco where he accused Americans in fly-over country of “clinging” to religion and guns, he puts his foot in it pretty readily.  If he really keeps his promises—makes abortion cheap and un-challengable, raises the top tax rates over 50%, gives unions greater power to control their members, tries to stifle talk-radio, raises taxes on coal plants (he promised to bankrupt them if they tried to expand), and pulls troops from Iraq only to send them to some backwater like Darfur—people are going to get tired of that real quick.

Of course, he could do a lot of damage in two years before the electorate puts the brakes on, but hey, we asked for it.  At least we have some time between elections and inaugurations, so we can prepare.  If you think you might want to buy a gun in the next few years, get it now.  If you’ve always wanted to stand outside an abortion clinic offering to counsel undecided pregnant women, do it before Jan. 20th.  Start learning to live more frugally; find ways to maintain your quality of life on less income.  If you can drop down one tax bracket, that’s going to be more important under Obama than ever.  Raise a backyard garden; barter for things.  If you were thinking of expanding your business, invest in making it more efficient instead.

We’ll survive this—those of us who have already been born, anyway.  To quote a line from one of my favorite books, “Joy is in the ears that hear.”  It’s hard to hear any joy this morning, but it’s there if you listen hard enough.  This failure can be a learning opportunity: a chance for people to re-learn what socialism really means, and a chance for Republicans (or some third party) to rediscover traditional conservatism.  We’ve got lemons, so we might as well start making lemonade.

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