Rationalizing election loss
Gilbert Nadeau’s post-election letters attempt to contrast national economic interest, represented by Mitt Romney’s campaign promises and championed by Republican voters, with self-interest as perceived by Democratic voters, whom Barack Obama frightened with lies about Romney’s evil intentions.
But we didn’t need Obama to scare us about the consequences of a Republican victory. Romney, Paul Ryan and the rest made them chillingly clear. Apparently they believed a majority of Americans were gullible or self-sacrificing enough to trade health care, education, reproductive choice, marriage equality, Medicare, Social Security, the environment, hopes of a moderate Supreme Court and more for discredited economic myths and 12 million imaginary jobs. The wonder is that they fooled as many as they did.
It’s natural for the losers to complain after such a rout; but the Republicans’ rationalizations are particularly ugly. Romney claims Obama won by “giving things” to a shiftless majority who won’t work and expect the government to supply all their needs. Ryan and others lament that too many urban voters (i.e., the poor, the young, the old, students and minorities) turned out, despite concerted efforts to suppress their votes. Barely masked are the horror that this motley coalition outvoted white upper-class financial interests and the feeling that the results are not legitimate. Rep. John Boehner and Sen. Mitch McConnell, who squandered four years on their obsession with defeating the president, behave as if the election never happened.
We hear Mr. Nadeau’s contempt for the selfish majority and Virginia Duffy’s hysteria about garbage-fed students screaming for Karl Marx and socialism (Karl Marx? Socialism? Really? Where?)
Four years ago Obama’s ecstatic supporters pinned impossible dreams on their candidate. They were more subdued this year, voting with open eyes for a leader they knew was imperfect. We’re sadder and wiser but relieved and cautiously optimistic.