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Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Postmortem - the People's Mandate
It's over, done, in the can. President Obama won re-election. The people have spoken. But what did we say? Even though Obama won handily in the Electoral College, he won key states by narrow margins and the overall popular vote margin is far from impressive. This was not a decisive victory. It was not an endoresement of policy.
Several things do emerge from the results that are, at the very least, interesting. The first is the realization that white males no longer dominate in America. This will be a hard pill for white males to swallow, but the demographics have shifted. No matter how political views among the voters shift and change over the next four years, the new political reality is that the balance in this country has changed to finally reflect our diversity.
The net meaning of the election seems to be that America is divided on how to go forward and meet the crises that face us, and therefore chose to maintain the status quo. Progress will continue at the same pace it has maintained over the past two years with a Congress with split loyalties. There is no mandate. The House leadership will not, as I see it, move toward the center and the Senate leadership will not find any of their movement met with counter-compromise. In short, very little will get done as long as one party in opposition can obstruct the other's agenda. Apparently, this is just what Americans want -- or, more likely, the election reflects our disconnect from the system that gives us two rich kids from which to choose.
It was an expensive choice. It cost an embarrassing amount of money to run the 2012 elections, on all levels. In Montana, as I have noted, the pricetag for the Senate seat was something like 60 million dollars, and the nationwide pricetag exceeded the billions. One can't help wonder where that money would have been better spent, perhaps on education, infrastructure repair, job creation. Of course, values are relative -- Americans spent six billion dollars on Halloween costumes.
Barach Obama is the new One Billion Dollar Man. It cost that much for the Presidential campaigns to be run. But he is no cyborg, he is a politician who spends most of his time running. Well, he does not have to run anymore. So, Mr. President. pardon the language, it's time to show us your cojones. Call on the other side of the aisle to join in helping America move forward, or at least repair the damages done by a wartime economy during the last fifty years and an investment bubble that coincided with that economy before bursting. And if they don't compromise with you, don't compromise with them and still get nothing, as so often happened during the last two years. Fix your sights on them and do not let them squirm and equivocate away from their responsibility, but do not squirm or equivocate away from your own responsibility either.
The last thing I want to mention in this blog is a hefty reminder that still seems to elude most of the pundits. Even though race and racism is still a palpable part of our mentality, class distinctions will continue to grow and the schism between the power elite and those they rule will widen. If we don't address that, the problems we face today will seem like an expired outdate on the milk in the fridge.
But wait, there's more ---- and a note to my eldest -- the two party system is deeply flawed, more so in such a diverse nation. Multiple party systems do allow for coalitions and compromises between elements that shape policy and engage action. However, when I talk to people overseas who live under multi-party systems, they find flaws there as well. But they would not trade. Either way, the Power Elite -- a term coined back in 1956 by C. Wright Mills, will call the shots, and I agree with you on one fundamental reality: we may as well be serfs working the fields on Charlemagne's estate.
I was born in Holland in 1950. My parents immigrated to the US when I was two. I have many close friends and family on both continents. My wife Diane and I have been happily married since 1974. I have four children and one grandchild (two more are on the way). I love writing and sharing what I wrote most of all..