(Note: Following is an article I wrote during my time offline, maybe hours after the 2012 election results were announced. Barack Obama is a lot like other Democrat Presidents in that he continually alternates between giving me hope and utterly disappointing me. Regardless of which way you choose to look at it, however, the events of the last few months say that change on multiple levels is needed in political systems throughout the world.)
I have been off the real Internet (that is, without a permanent connection in the place where I rest my head) for a little while. But what I saw through web pages on a ‘phone both warmed my heart and reminded me of just how sick the world I am living in really is. There have been a few different news pieces that made me blink and say “what in the unholy fukk?”, but almost all of them filter back to American President Barack Obama winning a second term.
First of all, congratulations, mister Obama. There are some things about how you have performed in the job that disappointed me, but I can say without blinking that I believe you won because of the candidates offered, you were the most correct choice for the job.
But holy cow, those other choices were awful. I do not know much about the other folk that the Republican party were contemplating sending to run against him, but the man they went with turned out to be the fuster-cluck of my life in this respect. And given that I am old enough to have started walking and talking during Jimmy Carter‘s term in the Presidency, that is saying a lot.
American politics and how it all works is often a baffling thing to outsiders like myself, so I will refrain from all the usual remarks about American socialism-phobia and how America compares to other nations in terms of taking care of its citizenry. We could be here for days if we go into those subjects, and I would prefer to focus entirely on the election and how Obama won it.
What I do find interesting is how attitudes towards the electoral college system that exists in America change depending on who won or lost. The electoral college is a bit like the concept of seats in the house that drives the system in other countries. Different states are apparently given a different number of “votes” in this system, based on how populous they are. This year, in the wake of Obama‘s victory, conservatives pissed and moaned that the electoral college system was counting votes in an unfair, biased (against them of course) way. And you know, if you look at it a certain way, they are right. The electoral college system does seem a little biased against “red” hicksville states.
But you know something, I have been to places that are basically this country’s “red” hicksville states. They too moan and cry whenever the electoral system delivers a result that does not bend over backwards for them. So I am going to share a little secret with the peoples of sparsely-populated areas who think the entirety of their country should be governed in a manner that suits them, and them only. The reason New York state gets more electoral votes than Texas is because New York state has about five times as many people in less than a tenth as much land. But that only tells part of the story. The truth is that the states that Obama won electoral college votes from also happen to be the most progressive, scientifically literate (funny how those two go together), and most importantly self-sufficient. It is no exaggeration to say that chunks of the taxes of so-called blue states make up subsidies for the losses that red states are operating at.
And you know what? When you are rallying for a job that entails making decisions that affect three hundred million people directly, as well as at least a few billion indirectly, traditionalism is extremely overrated. Conservative shitheads constantly moan about the death of or threats to traditions, but if there is one thing we are learning in a hurry now, it is that of the traditions in existence, the ratio of good ones is actually rather small. And this is the most ironic thing, because the “traditions” that the conservative side of American politics likes to promote as theirs are, in fact, the worst.
But that is drifting too far from the point at this time. One of the many reasons why Barack Obama is President again is because one of the many responsibilities a President has is to carefully think about both his actions and the myriad of results that they are likely to have. Words, too. His words basically are the same as his actions, and the slightest gaffe can have far-reaching consequences. A good number of which force a President to choose between what is good for peoples’ opinions of him and what is good for the actual people. Or other complicated variants involving a number of factors.
During one of his terms, George Dubya faced a crisis in which one of the American forces’ spy planes was brought down in Chinese territory. There are a number of ins and outs to this situation, most of which I do not understand. But when an enemy vehicle, plane, boat, or wheeled, is captured in your territory, it basically becomes yours until someone either musters the force, or asks nicely enough, to get you to give it back. Until such time, one can do as they will with the plane, contents, and crew. Now, when the enemy is as large in a military sense as China, one’s options in terms of “persauding” them to hand back what they have taken from one tend to be limited. One can ask “nicely”. One can send in a large military force and hope for some good luck. Or, and this is the option a ballsier President would have gone with, one could apply pressure upon the other guy’s economy.
This last option is a two-edged sword. You see, China’s economy basically works on the back of exporting cheap, hokey shit in massive amounts to other countries. If you have ever bought a plastic MoneyMas tree, decorations for same, small toys for children, or even some electronics, chances are that you have bought something that was originally created in China. But with that ability to export masses of cheap goods comes a certain dependence. If enough of the rest of the world were to all stop buying things from China, China’s economy would collapse in a matter of months. But it would also create a strain upon America’s economy, as many goods manufactured in America such as electronic items also use a lot of Chinese parts. The same applies to much of the world. Delete America’s name from that sentence and stick the country of your choice in there.
So Dubya had to choose between using his most potent tool of control over China, or being nice in the hope of getting things back. When he learned that the economic backlash would hit America around reelection time, he chose the latter. Understandable if you want to keep preserving the myth of economic strength in conservatism, as he did, but ultimately the wrong choice in all other respects.
Barack Obama is the other kind of President. For longer than I have existed, merely whispering the idea of changing America’s healthcare system has brought out a literal shit-storm of conservative whinging and bullshit. Apparently, it is inconceivable to Americans that they pay “more” tax in exchange for an affordable, available healthcare system. Yet they seem to not mind at all when they pay untold amounts to a private corporation for a small share in a regularly unaffordable and unavailable healthcare system. Add to this that nations other than America not only manage to cover nearly everybody (or just plain everybody), and with lower costs to boot, and America’s vanity for the system as it was just looks more delusional. So Obama, in one of the ballsiest moves I have yet seen out of a world leader during my lifetime, decided that this situation was not acceptable, and that he would implement a plan to change it.
The funny thing is that with all of the pissing and moaning about their delusions that America’s healthcare system is the envy of the world (just to emphasise, it is not), American citizens mostly failed to notice that a lot of what Obama has legally mandated for American healthcare is in fact the expected norm in the rest of the First World.
Had the Republicans chosen to run a credible, or at least non-idiotic candidate against him, what has been termed Obamacare in the media may indeed have been political suicide for Obama. Yet he did it anyway. Not because he foresaw that his opposition would run a candidate against him that all but said they did not give a shit about nearly half of the American population, but because he considered it the right thing to do.
Which brings me to my original point about the Republican candidate. Republican party of America, if your political goal is to be a credible opposition to the Democrat party, then what the hell were you thinking? I mean, I know it chaps your collective buttocks a great deal to have a man who is not at least half as white as I am in the office, but when you want to remove a person from a position of power, you have to go about it in a manner more akin to The Godfather. That is, you have to line all of your ducks up, wait for the enemy to make enough of a mistake, and then pounce. Instead, you acted like a spoiled child, a collective one with hundreds of heads, and flailed about like a toddler trying to swat away the bee that has already stung them.
Now, this is basically what it boils down to, Republican party of America. When you are trying to gain access to leadership of the single most powerful nation in the world, acting like a spoiled child, as you apparently plan to continue doing in order to punish Obama for his success, is really no option. People, myself included, are already calling for your party to be dissolved and thrown out in favour of another. Which brings me to the point of this whole textual ramble.
Whilst I believe Obama to be the best choice to lead America for the next four years, this is not because I necessarily believe in his leadership. Some of his decisions, such as not pursuing the reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine, bummed me out to a great degree. But the thing is, what the Republicans ran against him was so idiotic and at times disgusting that it beggars belief. This seems to be a consistent pattern in American elections, and has been one for a while now. You see, when George Dubya ran for his first term, he was pitted against a real loss called Al Gore. Al Gore was already known for a few things to people all over the world, and none of them good. For instance, whilst the Parents Music Resource Centre was mainly the work of his wife, Tipper, Al has never quite shaken off the image of cooperating with one of the worst opponents of the music industry’s right to determine its own speech. But when he was (rather shakily) defeated in the 2000 election, he sealed his own political coffin by making statements to the effect that he could have won if not for the fact that he was Bill Clinton‘s Vice President. So Clinton, in yet another display of how big his balls were, simply told Gore in a public forum that Gore‘s loss of all his [Gore‘s] Presidential debates did not have anything to do with Bill Clinton.
That, in a nutshell, is what is wrong with the political system at present. All credit is due to Obama for presenting a vision of America that is strong and different to the America that is not working anymore. But make no mistake. Every victory in every election that I can clearly remember watching has been won because of the weakness of the opposition, rather than the strengths of the victor. As soon as Mitt Romney made his big statement about how it is not his job to take care of the forty-seven percent of America that he sees as bludgers or whatever it was that he said, I knew that within the campaign room, Obama was rubbing his hands together. And who would not? Because even though election outcomes are never certain until all of the votes are counted, he would have had to have made a special effort to hand this election to his opponent after his opponent had pretty much done the same for him.
And hopefully, this will be the first of many omens directed to the Republicans. Even most of the people they purport to be representing have grown tired of their shit.
Actually, that is pretty much what I had been wanting to talk about since I began this diatribe. You see, for most, if not all, of my lifetime, we have had to endure an endless stream of bullshit concerning the political-economic system and how it should be run. From conservatives, the mantra is always the same. I kid you not when I say that some will tell you, with all seriousness, that the reason for all of the woe and pain in the economic world is because the markets have not been deregulated enough. Come again?
A venture capitalist named Nick Hanauer said it best. I will paraphrase his words here. People think that the Republican party of America is afraid that the economy will be harmed if the tax rates paid by the richest portion of their populace goes up. Nothing could be further from the truth. What the Republican party of America wakes up screaming at night about is that tax rates paid by the richest portion of the populace will go up, and the economy will not be harmed by it. Because that means the bullshit that they have drowned everyone in for pretty much the entirety of my life will be washed away.
Regulation is much the same. Republicans have this strange fantasy that if there is no regulation at all, everyone will naturally fall in order and peace and harmony will reign in their magical market. Well, we have seen how that worked in the past, too. The robber baron era would be one of the few times in history that the English-speaking world’s economy was less regulated than has been the case since Ronald Reagan slashed and burned the Federal Register. It is impossible to get zero regulation in the true sense of the phrase because, whether through violence or agreement, even the most anarchic system has some element of regulation. I will come back to this point in a moment.
The main point, however, is that contrary to what conservatives and Republicans have been flinging at us for so long, the correlation between greater regulation, higher taxation of the rich, and economic prosperity has been demonstrated to be absolute.
What the entire English-speaking world needs now is not merely a few laws to change the manner in which healthcare is delivered. In fact, every First World nation needs leadership that will step up to the plate and say one thing to the billionaires and their corporation. Namely, the free ride ends here. Because as they are so fond of twisting to their benefit, nothing is really free. Their free ride has been paid for by the entire rest of the world in the forms of higher taxes, poorer services, incomes not keeping pace with inflation, and on and on it goes.
Mister Obama, I know there is only so much a President can get done in the time left, but the time has come to not just grab the bull by the horns, but to nail its head to the ground. Now is the time to reverse the flow that has been crashing like a thousand tsunamis upon the working class since I was a child. I may not have voted for you, mister Obama (I am not eligible to vote in America anyway), but as one of the people your opponents clearly do not care a bag of beans for, I believe in you. I believe in what I think you can do. Now is the time to come out with all guns blazing in order to justify that belief.
May luck and Odin be with you, regardless of what you decide.