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November 05, 2008

The Triumph of Hope over Experience: Post Election Predictions

I went to sleep last night in Red America, surrounded by the fading echoes of the Reagan Revolution and the Bush Doctrine.

This morning I woke to a land that has changed beyond recognition. And yet it is still the America I love; for the essence of America is that it is forever changing, forever in flux, always on the move between a past deeply rooted in tradition and a future fixed on our highest aspirations. A few post-election observations:

1. The media abhors a vacuum. Barack Obama oversold expectations for his Presidency. To get elected, he promised voters everything up to and including a new car, a pot of gold, and a pony. Unsurprisingly, a largely sympathetic media heartily sick of 8 years of George Bush were not inclined to ruin his chances at the ballot box. But with Obama safely in the Oval Office, look for a bored press corps to clutch at the shreds of their lost journalistic integrity:

Obama the candidate thrived on the strategic ambiguity that made liberals think he was liberal, moderates think he was moderate, and conservatives think he was tolerable. But after the election, ambiguity must be replaced with action, and action is controversial—that is, the stuff of news.

...Being commander in chief of the armed forces is never good enough. Presidents always want to be the nation's editor-in-chief, too. Once they assume that title, total press war is just around the corner.

2. Look for a second surge in Iraq .... a surge in violence:

BAGHDAD — Fifteen people were killed and dozens wounded by bombings in Baghdad on Tuesday, according to the police and hospital officials, part of an uptick in violence after a relatively quiet few weeks here.

Mr. Obama should never have broadcasted his intent to withdraw troops so publicly this summer, nor undermined the pending Status of Forces and Strategic Framework Agreements. These lapses in judgment are likely to cost American troops dearly during the coming months.

3. On the positive side, it will be harder to argue (as William Ayers' new book does) that the American political and economic landscape is controlled by white supremacists.

4. Increasingly, the power of ordinary people to publicize moments like this:

And this:

...are going to make it impossible for even the most determined partisans to continue peddling bald faced lies. At some point, even if one dislikes the evidence of one's own eyes, it becomes impossible not to face the fact that none of us - black, white, brown, yellow - of whatever race, creed, religion or political persuasion, is above the law and no one ought to be excused for doing what is wrong. It is time for Keith Olbermann's "emergency rules" to take a powder; for America to take a good, long look in the mirror.

All people fall along a bell curve. Some are decent and law abiding. Some are not. Some work hard and prosper. Some make excuses and blame their failures on others. These things are not a function of race or ethnicity. If they were, I could look at a person's skin color and sum up (with no more effort than that) his character, intelligence, and prospects for success in life. Thomas Sowell, a man who possesses one of the most lucid minds in America, would not be possible.

Many of the evils which beset this country have been excused in the name of race and class grievances. Perhaps with this election, there is a chance for some honest dialogue about things we have not been allowed to discuss in the name of political correctness. Perhaps we are finally strong enough to face all of the truth: even the parts which are painful.

Why else do we have a free press?

5. Look for at least part of the Right fringe to jump the shark, just as the Leftroots did during the Bush years.

There will be all sorts of conspiracy theories. The world is ending. Conservatism is dead. Obama is going to fill the Cabinet with Soviet-style apparatchiks or Black Panthers.

Sorry. While I'm not thrilled about an Obama presidency, I'm not ready to pronounce conservatism dead simply because (once again) the presidency turned over after two terms of Republican rule. Looking back at the last 100 years, it's not exactly unusual for the American people to want a change of party after two terms of the same party in the Oval Office - this was fairly predictable and may, in fact, have been the single biggest factor in John McCain's defeat.

If you're upset about it, don't whine. Get involved. John Hawkins has ideas here and here.

6. Early voting is here to stay, and I may surprise some of you (and myself!) by saying I think it's a good thing.

Arguably the best thing about this election, regardless of how one feels about the outcome, is the absolutely phenomenal job the Obama campaign did of turning out young people and first time voters. Now it's time for a national conversation (and perhaps another look at the Carter study on securing election integrity) on how we go about making our elections more efficient, accurate, and accountable.

If the Republican Party has a brain in its collective (D'oh! There's that commie word again!) head, it will take a long, hard (Oooohhh... she said hard... heh) look at Obama's community organizing techniques and how he applied them to get out the vote, because when I was in St. Louis this summer I couldn't take two steps without being accosted by an Obama worker literally begging me to register.

They just plain outflanked us, just as George Bush did to the Democrats in 2000 and 2004. Sometimes, the truth hurts but big boys and girls realize the instructive value of pain and learn from it.

Posted by Cassandra at November 5, 2008 05:26 AM

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Comments

You have helped me find the silver lining, Cass! Now, all charges of racism can be met with a resounding "STFU and get a job."

Posted by: MathMom at November 5, 2008 07:41 AM

Geez, Cass. You should least let them get over their hangover before you remind them about the bit with the lampshade.

Posted by: spd rdr at November 5, 2008 07:46 AM

Heh :)

No, I think there will still be charges of racism.

But it will be harder to make them stick now because I think people are tired of the rancor. At least I hope so.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 5, 2008 07:54 AM

I guess I picked a bad day to stop sniffing glue.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at November 5, 2008 08:16 AM

Cassandra, I love this post! Thank you for bringing things into perspective.

Posted by: lela at November 5, 2008 08:32 AM

Perhaps with this election, there is a chance for some honest dialogue about things we have not been allowed to discuss in the name of political correctness.

Silly goose. The PC elites *won*, thereby validating their philosophy and themselves, personally. They proved honest dialogue has no place in their game plan -- why would they want it now when they abjured it before?

However, I suspect that within the next few months, the marginally-PC folks will show up and want to talk, even if it's only to blubber on your shapely, yet absorbent, shoulder...

Posted by: BillT at November 5, 2008 08:43 AM

I'm not whining, I'm pouting (but just for today)..tomorrow is another day.

Posted by: Carrie at November 5, 2008 08:44 AM

I didn't mean anyone here, Carrie!

That was just an all-purpose 'whining' :p

Saw a few sour grapes posts this morning that annoyed me. That's all.

The Great Cycle of Blaming has begun.

Posted by: Cassandra at November 5, 2008 09:28 AM

I teach my kaydets that, when they're up in the air and there's a difference of opinion about a problem that needs solving, it's not *who* is right, it's *what* is right.

Welcome aboard, ladies and gentlemen. Please fasten your seat belts...

Posted by: BillT at November 5, 2008 09:38 AM

Arguably the best thing about this election, regardless of how one feels about the outcome, is the absolutely phenomenal job the Obama campaign did of turning out young people and first time voters. -Cass

Given that 2004 saw 121 million voters and 2008 only had 119 million, if Obama really was as successful at turning out first time voters as is claimed then that amount plus another 2 million Republicans stayed home.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at November 5, 2008 11:59 AM

We'll have to see what the numbers say.

I keep hearing (via email, from Dem friends) that they did see an unusual number. But this may all be anecdotal evidence. Turnout was light where we live (a Red county).

How was it where you live?

Posted by: Cassandra at November 5, 2008 12:06 PM

I took advantage of the early voting for the first time, so unfortunately, I don't have a personal comparison to prior elections.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at November 5, 2008 12:39 PM

It usually takes about 5 minutes of waiting to vote (nice, right?).
Yesterday, it took 20 minutes of waiting.
Not complaining at all....I was prepared to wait alot longer.

Posted by: Carrie at November 5, 2008 12:45 PM

I live in a very red area. Just cause I run crime doesn't mean I want to live with it.

Voter turnout was very heavy.

Posted by: Keyser Soze at November 5, 2008 03:31 PM

You got to be shitting me? Security? Unless their jacket says "Security", their tradecraft sucks. Actually, their tradecraft would still suck because they agreed that the stick was a "weapon". That's not the weapon. People should really get an education on what the "weapon" really is.

Perhaps with this election, there is a chance for some honest dialogue about things we have not been allowed to discuss in the name of political correctness.

I tend to think that pain makes for quite a many honest dialogues. It just depends. The Al Anbar tribes, after feeling enough of the pain of the consequences of their choice of friends and allies, eventually started talking to each other, to us, and the Iraqi government.

Pain is a great way to smooth communications out, for human empathy only works when the pain is personal or close. It doesn't work if the pain is only on tvs, courts, news programs, or in words. Since human beings naturally have defense mechanisms against feeling pain, painful memories, or other such things, you have to bring the pain past their pain threshold level. The Sunnis had an extremely high pain threshold but it was not infinite. AQ has an even higher pain threshold level due to their being fanatics, but their threshold isn't infinite either. Humans are still humans.

Why else do we have a free press?

Isn't it because if you stopped people from publishing their writings it would be the same as stopping them from speaking their mind to others? You don't actually need news organizations for that. Not anymore.

6. Early voting is here to stay, and I may surprise some of you (and myself!) by saying I think it's a good thing.

It always tended to make sense to me. Frankly when I first learned about how they did polling, I was amazed that they could even count all the votes in all the precincts in a few hours in one night. American efficiency at work, I suppose.

Sometimes, the truth hurts but big boys and girls realize the instructive value of pain and learn from it.

Certainly the instructive value of inflicting pain on others will be a great learning experience for us all. I totally agree.

Welcome aboard, ladies and gentlemen. Please fasten your seat belts...

How many high gee turns are we going to get and at what acceleration?

Posted by: Ymarsakar at November 5, 2008 03:38 PM

The camera guy was pretty funny. His breathing was rather tense and he obviously wanted some backup (you got my back, right?). That is just too funny.

He's got guts though going up against (two of em) with no knowledge or training in hand to hand killing: even with his backup.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at November 5, 2008 03:40 PM

I heard that guy (I think - it was whoever called the police) interviewed on Hannity's radio show yesterday afternoon. He is prior military, though I don't recall specifics...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at November 5, 2008 10:34 PM

Now we know what the long lines are for ; )

Posted by: Ymarsakar at November 6, 2008 03:28 AM

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