I don’t know about you, but I thoroughly enjoyed watching the election returns last night. It was a little like watching the World Series, only with all four games coming in one night. And like the recent series, it was a virtual “sweep” for the team I was rooting for, team Obama. All that was missing, for me at least, was the chance to be a fly on the wall of Romney headquarters—it’s always interesting to see how losers respond—or even better, on the wall of Repuglican headquarters in Mississippi or Alabama or Kentucky or Texas. To be able to observe how these folks reacted to the outcome they most dreaded—the “black socialist” in the White House for four more years—would’ve been sweet indeed. As it was, it was pretty sweet to see how the mainstream pundits reacted. Most kept trying to keep up the pretense that “anything could happen,” and “it’s far from over yet,” when, in fact, the election was over pretty early in the evening. CBS was already predicting that Ohio was “leaning” to Obama by around 7PM if I remember correctly. They had Nevada “leaning” too. Then when Wisconsin fell to the President, and Pennsylvania came through as well, the writing was on the wall for all to see—the President had not only won, but would win big.
The only real mystery in this election was how Romney did as well as he did in the first place. The guy is a robot. And a Mormon to boot—Mormonism being the weirdest religion ever invented, not to mention the most racist (Mormons traditionally believed that Black people descended directly from Cain—you know, the guy who killed his brother Abel and then wondered if he were his brother’s keeper—pretty appropriate, come to think of it, for a capitalist like Romney). And made his money in leveraged buyouts, perhaps the most heartless form of financial skullduggery yet invented by the Wall Street boys. I mean of all the candidates that a Repuglican party might have selected to represent them, could anyone imagine they’d choose the one most easily caricatured as the essence of rapacious, self-aggrandizing, look-out-for-number-one, white-bread capitalism? And yet they did, holding their collective Tea Party noses as they did so, or not. All of which goes to show that once again, Barack Obama is the luckiest politician alive when it comes to the self-destructive dopes who run against him.
So the mantra of the Clinton administration, it’s the economy, stupid, ought to be amended here: it’s the Repugs, stupid. I mean, they’ve invested their whole strategy in a vanishing constituency: mostly old, mostly southern, mostly racist, sexist white guys. And suddenly, last night, there they were, looking around and wondering if perhaps they ought to figure out another way to win elections. And all you had to do was compare the crowd in Obama’s Chicago headquarters, with the crowd in Romney’s Boston mausoleum—all older, white, lookalike and increasingly grim faces in the latter (at one point they started to sing, to scream, really, God Bless America; which was quite eerie); a rainbow of colors and types and smiles on the faces of the mostly young, dancing, flag-waving crowd with a sense of destiny in the former. Two Americas. One dying. The other coming into its own like a gathering tide. What’s hardest to understand is how these older, and presumably wiser folk can’t seem to get this. Or maybe they can. Maybe that’s what really animates them: their sense of foreboding and growing certainty that rich as they are, powerful as they are and have always been, their days are numbered. That, amazingly, they are not going to able to “take back the last century” as they had hoped. And from my perspective, it couldn’t be happening to a more deserving bunch of dinosaurs.
What remains, now, is for the progressives who have had to live through all of Obama’s ditherings these past four years to figure out how to keep his feet to the fire. Because the table is now set for a still-hopeful Obama (as was clear in his speech last night) to bend over backwards once again to try to get people who hate his guts to make nice with him to “solve the country’s problems.” Uh oh. Here we go again. Here we go into Grand Bargain time. And if Obama, as representative of the left, can be pressured into yielding ground on the basic social contract enacted by FDR and Johnson and the rest—Social Security and Medicare and Civil Rights and Rowe v Wade—in order to get the Repugs to agree to raise taxes a hair, then his re-election campaign would be better off having failed. The point is to keep that from happening. It may take marches and demonstrations and civil disobedience. It may take more (I keep having this fantasy of Wall St bankers barricaded in their gated mansions, with marauding bands of desperate workers howling outside). But whatever it takes, it’s going to have to be done because we know, now, after four years, that Barack Obama will only respond to popular pressure. If he’s left to his own advisers and his own instincts, he’ll allow himself to be rolled again and again by filibustering Repugs.
So here’s to last night. And here’s to Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Baldwin. And here’s to the end of Romney. And here’s also to the coming struggle; because as we should all know by now, election victories are only the first step in a marathon. As we in California found out to our horror when the $36 million dollar campaign to defeat Proposition 37, (a modest attempt to force the food industry to label genetically modified foods—what a concept!), succeeded in so confusing the masses that they voted it down. How anyone could vote against knowing exactly what one is putting in one’s body is beyond me, but a majority actually did. So don’t think the oil barons or the corporate food kings or the Walton family or the pharmaceutical drips or the military-industrial hogs or the banksters are finished. They’ll be out in force, perhaps greater force than ever. And it falls to us, the people, to do everything possible to curb that power, to bring it to heel, and keep it there.