Last Tuesday (11/6/2012) there was a vote about the future and the teenagers won. They now have the keys to the family car.
I have never in my life so wanted to be wrong in my judgment. Here it is: President Obama’s re-election is an even worse disaster than his election was. Do I think that many of the people who voted for him gave serious thought to the giant national debt, to the impending entitlement implosion, to the tepid economic growth, or even to the unusually high rate of unemployment? No. Do I think a sizable percentage did? No. Do I think a few did consider all or any of this? I am not sure.
President Obama won re-election decisively. His margin in the popular vote was nearly three million votes. Apparently* there were none of the gangsterish electoral tactics that marred his 2008 election. This makes the results worse as far as I am concerned.
President Obama is still not a monster. It’s possible that he is manipulated by a brand of leftists we thought had disappeared long ago. It’s also possible that someone like me will nurture in his brain paranoid notions at a time of major anxiety, such as now.
The camps were clearly drawn and it seems that the camp of those who think the “government” or the “rich” owe them simply carried the day. This kind of conviction sometimes comes from stupidity, not always, not even often, I believe. (This is subjective.) More frequently people make these kinds of decisions when they believe that normal social and economic processes are rigged, or otherwise “unfair.” You don’t need to be stupid nor unobservant to believe that. You don’t have to have a low IQ to make up stories of victimization in your mind . (See my story on hunger: “Child Hunger in America and Gullibility“) They come up naturally in many people’s minds irrespective of the evidence available. I have long been aware of this phenomenon but I don’t know why it’s so common. My best bet is that it’s an atavistic mental return to what Karl Marx called “the idiocy of village life,” with its envies, its jealousies, and its generalized rancor. (Correspondingly, President Obama said during his campaign that, “voting is the best revenge.”) If this guess is correct, it forces the question of why many manage to escape the curse. (I did. I do.)
When I was still in academia (for thirty years), I was surrounded by that kind of people, many were intelligent; a few were reasonably cultured, a tiny number were both, some were downright brilliant. Almost all professed the view that the word was greatly unfair, including and especially American society. I often pointed out to them that this view of America was difficult to reconcile with the existence of people like me: happy, reasonably successful immigrants, immigrants who could return home and didn’t. Invariably, they would begin by crediting my parents – who, in truth, had not ever lifted a finger. Then, they would trot out the cozy cliché of the exceptionally hard-working immigrant. When I replied that I had seldom worked hard in my whole life, that I had remained mostly lazy or distracted, they would simply change the subject. Some would even walk away angrily, as if I were acting stubbornly unreasonable. One guy – who had reasons to think he would not see me again – simply called me an impostor to my face. A small number never wanted to talk to me again. Their minds were made up. They just could not keep a healthy, coherent worldview while considering such discordant facts as I offered.
I am not suggesting here that the 2012 Democrat victory proceeded from mass mental illness, far from it. When apparent insanity is widespread enough, you have to stop thinking of it as an illness. Over the years, beginning in the years following World War Two, one after the other, most European countries have made the choice of having big, meddling government, high taxes and accordingly limited personal freedom . I was myself reared in such a society that later made that choice. I left it as soon as I could because it offered me little promise of a good life, and even much less of an interesting life. And it sure as hell was not going to allow a second chance to the high-school dropout that I was. (The dropout had earned a doctorate from Stanford only a few years later.) This is not a good time to write in detail about what I reproach France, my native country for. This time around, I will just summarize, beginning with what one cannot fault the country for.
First, it’s not a tyranny. Fair elections take place on a regular basis. Alternance in power is achieved peacefully. Judicial processes are fair, by and large. They are fairer than they were when I was a teenager. It’s also obvious that they were made fairer, with better guarantees for the accused, through deliberate imitation of the American model.
France is a very boring society where one’s life chances are determined early and seldom change. It’s a society marked by tremendous cultural sterility. It has no popular songs, no contemporary pictorial art (painting) to speak of, and its munificently subsidized movie industry persistently turns mediocre to bad products, most of them boring. Like all western European nations it is unwilling to defend itself vigorously. Like all others (less than most, in fact) French society demonstrates its ennui with life, its lack of vital enthusiasm through its unwillingness to reproduce itself. And, by the way, France is far from the worst of European countries in all respects I just mentioned. Germany, which always does better economically than France, is even more culturally sterile. Italy is in large part a Third World country. Spain, well, Spain is disappearing before your eyes. In 2004, Al Qaeda won the general election there. Incidentally, I agree that it would be interesting to examine the apparent exceptions to this dismal picture of Europe. The Netherlands, for example. There is no time to do this now. Let me just say that I think a socialist America wouldn’t head that way, that it wouldn’t even have a chance to become France, with its competent civil service.
The Big Government, high taxes, great social services experiment began decisively in Western Europe about fifty years ago. It’s not too early to judge it.
I am afraid that the mass demonstration of infantilism that took place November 6th 2012 is very difficult or impossible to reverse. Elsewhere, as in Greece, people became addicted to big government/ high taxes/ basic services provided by government without counting until it was too late. We may have reached a tipping point where, among those disposed to vote, those who see themselves as benefiting from a forcefully income re-distributing government systematically and permanently outnumber those who don’t.
So, practically, what do I fear? Three things.
- An ever-increasing national debt and confiscatory taxes with the following consequences: American descent into poverty through declining value of the dollar, chronic unemployment, a drying up of investment in the private sector, and diminishing productivity. Then, an abrupt suppression of entitlements such as Social Security retirement payment traceable to the Demo majority’s lack of gonads in dealing in good time with a problem all could see coming.
- A fast military weakening inviting attack from terrorist groups and miscalculations from gangster regimes, especially the very successful mafia called the Communist Party of China. Terrorist attacks can probably not inflict massive human casualties on this country. Yet, they can create great social disorganization, weaken economic performance again, poison the tenor of daily life. Beyond this, I envisage the end of the pax americana under which many countries thrived and became decent societies since 1945. There is no limit to the possible consequences of miscalculations by heavily armed gangster regimes from big countries such as China and Putin’s fascist Russia.
- If this tipping point becomes irreversible, if achieving a majority becomes the habitual means to the despoiling of some by others, many people, including me, will lose their faith in democracy. Because I think of modern democracy as an incredibly lucky, improbable accident, I perceive the possibility of a return to a previous, less civilized age.
On a more personal level, I am afraid I will leave for my grand-daughter a world worse than the harsh one in which I grew up post-World War Two.
By the way, this is not my worst case scenario. I know several people, including some who lived in Communist countries, who believe that the Obama clique is engineering an old-fashioned collectivist take-over as happened in Czechoslovakia in 1948. (See “A Blueprint for a Communist Takeover“) I wish I could simply dismiss them as cranks. I cannot.
Now on to the causes of pres Obama’s victory. It seems to me that nothing substantive explains his clear- cut Obama win. The economy remains very bad, unemployment is much too high, labor participation is at a historical low, economic growth is anemic and halting. Above all, the national debt is terrifying. And about 1/3 of the debt – most of which was accumulated since the birth of this Republic – was incurred under the first Obama administration. (That’s my approximate estimation. Please, correct me if I am very wrong. Don’t bother if I am only a little wrong.)
Again, do I think many of the people who voted for Obama considered these problems to the best of their ability? Probably not. Do I think that a few did? It’s hard to believe. I have not heard or seen Obama partisans do it aloud during the campaign. If the Obama camp had done such considering on any scale at all, it seems to me it would have come to my attention. All the Obama supporters I know personally completely dismissed the topic, same on Facebook.
Do I think that the few Obama supporters who did take those issues into consideration simply decided that Mr Obama was the best candidate to deal with them? It’s nearly impossible to believe. To my knowledge, there was simply no poll before the election that gave Obama preference in that area.
Or rather, did a majority of those who voted to re-elect Mr Obama did it because he held the key to even more important problems than high unemployment, low economic growth, and a gaping national debt? I can think of only one general family of issues where Mr Obama might have been seen as a better bet: peace at all costs. I disagree strongly with the underlying attitude, but I have a grasp of it. It’s what children want: Let’s not fight, fighting is bad, let’s all get along. If there are other reasons to have voted for Obama in spite of the dire national economic situation, I would like to be instructed, even on a hypothetical basis, about what problems were more important than the economic issues I listed above. (Please, don’t just give me a reading assignment lightly. If you give one, say why I should do it.)
The man, Barack Hussein Obama, has not changed. He is still an incompetent guy. He is still the semi-literate guy who reads aloud Navy “corpsman” as if it had to do with a corpse, a cadaver. (No, this is not an Internet rumor; I heard him with my own ears, at least eight times in the span of five minutes.) He is still the guy who thinks he has good reasons to keep his grades as a twenty-year old under lock and key. I can’t imagine why anyone would but he does. He is still a guy surrounded by competent advisers who flee his administration and by other advisers who turn out to be a little bit crooked. Above all, Barack Obama is still the guy who has never achieved anything in his life except get elected – with one major exception. The exception is the passage of Obamacare, of course. It’s a completely unacceptable kind of achievement for someone like me, and even more because of its form than because of its content. Without being melodramatic, I believe it takes only a few instances of 2,500-page bills that you must pass before you can read them to destroy the handful of virtuous habits that make up democracy.
Other than this, Obama has done nothing, including during the two years when he had iron-clad majorities in both houses. He did not even bother then to turn back the clock on Bush-era practices that infuriated his best supporters. That would include the “foreign rendition” of terror suspects and the maintenance of an offshore prison outside the reach of American justice. His blaming of Republican obstruction for this failure to fulfill his own promises, spontaneously made to his own supporters, is a plain lie. Incidentally, to give Mr Obama credit for withdrawing American troops from Iraq exactly according to the Bush calendar is ridiculous. His martial boastfulness on the occasion of the death of Bin Laden, caused by events in the planning for years, is grotesque. (I suppose we might be grateful that he did not forbid it though.) One may thank him, I suppose – but I would not have expected his supporters of 2008 to do so – for setting up a private international presidential assassination program of terrorism suspects. In short, it’s difficult to understand why many of the people who voted for Mr Obama do not see that he is simply ridiculous, not a monster, as I have said, but a figment of some ones’ imagination, including his own. (I don’t want to deny him credit on this account.) In spite of all this, Mr Obama still looked infinitely more cool than Gov. Romney. The cool guy won, though.
I ask myself what the Republican Party could have done differently and I add my comments. Here, below is a short list that is not intended to be exhaustive (because I am exhausted). I focus on the things I think I understand fairly well.
The Republican Party has trouble coming up with charismatic candidates who also appear competent enough. It seems to me that this is a function of our set of values. Hard work, meritocracy, balanced budgets, conjugal sex only ( if any) are not, sexy notions precisely. The people who hold those ideas as primary are likely to look a little pallid as compared to determined men who will wrench back American jobs from China or stop the rise of the oceans. The most charismatic Republican leader since Reagan has been Sarah Palin of Alaska. She was felled by latent, naïve sexism in both parties, including in women, and by a vicious conspiracy of powerful media bitches. I am not sure we can often do better than Romney in producing candidates. I am not sure I want us to. Free people shouldn’t need charismatic leaders. Have there been any charismatic Swiss at all since William Tell? (And he was not even a leader, just a really cool-headed archer and temporary burgomaster.)
All the same, I wonder if Mr Romney’s uninspiring personality caused several million Republicans to stay home. (And every time I write this, I have trouble believing that it did or that they did.)
Hispanics. We could have gotten millions of votes from them if they had heard a different voice from the Republican party. We screwed up badly. During the two years preceding the election, local Republicans spend a great deal of energy frightening and insulting millions of Hispanics. They did this at the very time when the problems posed by illegal immigrants – most of them Mexicans – were in the process of solving themselves. I warned several times on this blog about Republican misunderstandings in that area. (see “Bizarre Conservative Ideas…,” “Immigration: More on Conservative, Liberal Ignorance,” and “The Arizona Immigration Law…“). The problem is easy to fix for the next time around if many Republicans decide to loosen their mindless principles and look reality in the face. (See the link on this blog for a co-authored paper of mine describing an imaginative solution.)
Women: We got manipulated into distraction by the Democrats’ silly accusation of a Republican “war on women.” We allowed ourselves and our wise line of reasoning to be sidetracked. I got caught up myself in such a discussion (see “Limbaugh Insults Prostitutes…” ) arguing that it was not my responsibility to pay for strange women ‘s entertainment expenses, be they ski boots or contraceptives. We failed to do the obvious, to explain clearly and calmly that women don’t need free contraceptives, that women do not need to have the government force employers to provide contraceptives, but that they need good jobs that afford them the dignity of buying their own contraceptives, or not. We should have shown tirelessly how a bad economy, high unemployment directly and indirectly sacrifices women’s happiness, the happiness of women as women, specifically. We should have insisted that a fast growing economy is the best thing that can happen to women’s security, and to their dignity as well.
But that’s not the whole story. Let me say first that it would take only about five minutes to persuade me that women, on the average, work harder than men do, on the average. Nevertheless, I think that the desire to be kept runs deeply in the heart of many women. Its’ so common that it might be hardwired (which would make some evolutionary sense). Those who deny this have never know any women, or they have known only three, two of whom lied to them. Women commonly admit to this trait when they talk to other women. Women spontaneously express admiration for other women who achieve this cooly. I don’t know what Republicans can do about the siren song of government as exemplary husband who brings a paycheck home, who never drinks to excess, never argues, and does not fart in bed. Republicans been promoting traditional marriage with stay-at-home moms. It’s more working than not but it takes too long to turn the tide of women being kept by my tax money and who don’t even admit that it’s my money. I don’t know what the political solution to this deep-seated problem is. I am interested in anyone telling me.
Abortion: Extremists at every election assure us that anyone who speaks against the now nearly sacramental right to abortion will pay dearly or has paid dearly come election time. I don’t know to what extent this is true, I suspect not so much. Nevertheless, the question arises of which side I am on, as a conservative. It arises for all conservatives. As it happens, I am for keeping abortion legal, as the lesser of several evils. Nonetheless, I don’t wish to go on record as being against those who think that terminating the life of a creature three months after conception is a lot like terminating the life of a seven months creature which is in turn a lot like terminating the life of an eleven months-old creature. I also don’t want to line up on the side of the simplistic argument that women ought to control their bodies absolutely. After all, a child two years out of the womb often places greater demands on a woman, including on her body, than does a three-weeks fetus. Why not get rid of the little nuisance, the brat, I mean? And, as I have said elsewhere, there is always the alternative of perversion which avoids abortion, skirts the moral issue altogether, and which costs next to nothing.
Nevertheless, I wish the useless Republican national committee -which represents no one – has kept its collective mouth shut on a number of sex-related issues. We did not need this baggage.
Dumping on China. Romney tried to win over Ohio and other rust- belt states by making absurd statements about the relationship between Chinese manufacturing industry, Chinese monetary policy, and decreasing manufacturing employment in this country. I have dealt with this issue several times on this blog (see “The Golden Age of Manufacturing…,” “…the Currency Issue Made Simple,” and “Shipping Jobs Overseas…” for a few examples). I don’t want to repeat myself here. It’s all absurd. However, Obama did the same and worse. Neither candidate took the trouble to notice that Chinese imports have been increasing by 20% each year for about ten years. No one mentioned that the Chinese increasing prosperity is up for grabs. No one took the trouble to mention that German industry is still thriving exporting conventional industrial goods. The bipartisan spreading of ignorance involved is helped by many years of pernicious university mis-education by mindless academic liberals. Here again, here might be a tipping point. It’s been the case for thirty years that students have heard disparagement of capitalism in many classes while not taking any economics class (that’s zero).
A week later, I still don’t understand why so many Republicans stayed home or appeared to have done so. Its’ very difficult to accept that they did. This fact alone keeps my mind open to allegations of cheating. See the footnote below. Liberals will say that registered Republicans kept away because of distaste for extremism in their own party. But it’s absurd to think of anything led by Gov. Romney as extremist. It seems to me that Republicans who declined to vote are several times more likely to have done so because they perceived Romney as soft on liberalism. I keep wondering if the turnout would have been much better if the Romney campaign had taken even harder positions on tax hikes. And I am perplexed that economically hard-headed Paul Ryan seems to have disappeared from the stage soon after he was selected.
I hope the Republican majority in the House will have the fortitude to resist any but the slightest compromise on taxes. We have already paid the price for obstructionism, most of it imagined. It’ a bad time to weaken one of our most comprehensible, defining positions:
You can stop the monster’s growth by not feeding it.
Now, is the economic decline I fear wholly ineluctable? Probably not because happy, fortuitous developments, or luck, can nullify the effects of persistently bad policies. Perhaps there will really be a big oil and natural gas boom. Perhaps, an Obama administration committed to windmills and to failing solar power firms will not be able to kill it. Perhaps.
In other news, the Director of the CIA has resigned. That’s just about one week before he was due to testify before Congress on the disaster in Libya where an American ambassador was assassinated. Many conservatives, including myself, believe that the White House did everything it could to cover up its role in the fiasco. A tough public interrogation of General Petreus might demonstrate how wrong our suspicions are. Others, including me again, think that the administration used its clout to delay an open discussion of its incompetence until after the election. I realize that coincidences happen. All the same, the timing of the resignation stinks. The love affair that supposedly caused the resignation did not happen yesterday so, why does it come up at exactly this time? And why the urgency for the Director to resign? He has been a sinner and a rat for quite a while anyway. It’s practically impossible to avoid wondering how long the president has known and kept the knowledge of it in the White House safe until such time as it could be useful.
At any rate, I don’t see why the resigned Director of the CIA, the ex-Director cannot testify about what he did and about what he knew when he was still Director, a short time ago. Senator Feinstein, the congressional ranker on such matters, seems to agree with me. I will be paying attention to the excuses. If no excuses are forthcoming, I will believe that a conspiracy has taken place.
Update on 11/15/12: Gen. Petraeus testified. Stay tuned.
* I am aware of loud protests on Facebook about alleged massive fraud, more than enough fraud to overturn the results of the election. I am also aware of the fact that it’s common, a general practice for the losing losers to make such accusations. The fact that they are usual does not in itself demonstrate that the allegations are unbased. I will keep watching, with both a open mind and skepticism. The skepticism is related again, to the expectedness of such allegations. The open mind has a lot to do with the thought that it would be difficult both for so many polls predicting a high Republican turnout and a Romney victory to be wrong at the same time. It ‘s especially difficult to understand how the many liberal press organs who predicted a close race could be so wrong.