I have a confession to make. In spite of my profound intellectual and political distaste for Barack Obama, I did, in fact, feel physically relieved to wake up last Wednesday morning and find out he was still President, and that the country had rejected Mitt Romney and all he stood for.
Let me make this absolutely clear: I am not “glad Obama is President.” I am reasonably certain that everything Glenn Greenwald says in his “The Obama tradeoff” paragraph is what a lot of well-meaning people in this country think, consciously or unconsciously:
Yes, I’m willing to continue to have Muslim children slaughtered by covert drones and cluster bombs, and America’s minorities imprisoned by the hundreds of thousands for no good reason, and the CIA able to run rampant with no checks or transparency, and privacy eroded further by the unchecked Surveillance State, and American citizens targeted by the President for assassination with no due process, and whistleblowers threatened with life imprisonment for “espionage,” and the Fed able to dole out trillions to bankers in secret, and a substantially higher risk of war with Iran (fought by the U.S. or by Israel with U.S. support) in exchange for less severe cuts to Social Security, Medicare and other entitlement programs, the preservation of the Education and Energy Departments, more stringent environmental regulations, broader health care coverage, defense of reproductive rights for women, stronger enforcement of civil rights for America’s minorities, a President with no associations with a racist religion, and a more progressive Supreme Court.
Please note that climate change and peak resources don’t even enter this equation. But….Obama’s ostensible “liberalness” has sucked so-called “progressive Democrats” into accepting all the short-sighted spending priorities, infringements on our rights and liberties, and outright war crimes that they protested vigorously when these same moves were attempted by the Cheney administration. The morally compromised position of having accepted this from a Democrat would have made it awkward for these “liberals” to protest further restrictions coming from a Romney administration, which presumably would have taken an even more bare-knuckles approach to foreign and domestic policy.
Romney was, after all, raised in a homophobic, repressive, misogynistic, anti-small d democratic religion that, until 1978, held as official doctrine that having “black skin and a flat nose” was the “mark of Cain,” and would not allow African-Americans to take part in its ceremonies, let alone become priests. That’s about as gross as racism can get. Mitt Romney was 31 years old in 1978, a fully responsible adult, and for the first ten years of his adult life, he “approved that message.” Barack Obama is only the public relations image of a more racially tolerant society, but, in spite of the vast sums of corporate money spent to persuade voters to let an even more voracious fox guard the henhouse, and in spite of a tsunami of laws intended to limit the number of non-rich citizens who could vote,for the most part the spirit of sharing and open-mindedness prevailed over the spirit of narrow-minded selfishness.
And it’s big money’s failure to prevail, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s notorious Citizens’ United decision, that is probably the best news about this election. But there were other bright spots.
In Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington, voters either ratified the right of same-sex couples to marry, or rejected efforts to ban same-sex marriage. Colorado and Washington legalized general adult use of marijuana, and Massachusetts joined the growing roster of states that allow its use to treat certain medical conditions.
One victory for big money was the failure of California’s Proposition 37, which would have required that foods containing genetically modified ingredients be labelled as such. The proposal lost 53-47, not an overwhelming defeat, and may well be back again. I hope so. In spite of the protestations of the best science money can buy, genetic modification is a technology fraught with dangerous implications of such great variety that I’m not even gong to try and go into them here.
But, in a sense, one loss for all of us was the six billion dollars that, in the wake of that Citizens United decision, were poured into this election. That six billion was largely redistributed among the one percent, going from corporate donors to high-flying advertising agencies, only “trickling down” to the rest of us as the one-percenters did their grocery shopping. It could have gone a long way if it had been spent on increased energy efficiency, skills training and other educational efforts to ease our transition into a lower-energy, more localized, more sustainable culture, planting trees to combat climate change, or….hey, you name it. Six bil may be chump change to our corporate overlords, but it could have made a lot of difference in a lot of peoples’ lives, instead of being, essentially, burned in a futile effort to increase the level of corporate control over America even faster than the rate at which that control is already spreading. Do our voracious captains of industry realize that they, their money, and the influence that money can buy, are rapidly approaching the end of their choke chain and will soon be brought to a jerking, awkward, painful, humiliating halt?
For, as “superstorm Sandy” and the subsequent, unnamed nor’easter that just gave New York and New Jersey a one-two punch have reminded us, nature bats last, and her heavy hitters are just coming into the game. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet! Stock up on popcorn and drinks, folks, and watch out for stray foul balls. The next inning is gonna to be a doozy.
The Band: Look Out Cleveland
Ani Difranco: Splinter
Laurie Anderson: The Monkey’s Paw
James McMurtry Dancing in the Ruins of the Realm
Don Henley Everybody Knows
Jackson Browne Before the Deluge
B-52’s–The World’s Green Laughter
if I had time, I would follow it with their song “Revolution Earth.”