Saturday, November 10, 2012

Thoughts After Obama's Re-Election

I was disappointed after the election on Tuesday, but that's no surprise; I was disappointed long before the election, when it was clear that neither party had any intention of fielding a remotely acceptable candidate.  I'm convinced that the "greater evil" won, but it would not be really possible to celebrate the victory of a "lesser evil" -- and at this stage, even a genuinely good president would be able to do very little to reverse several long-term trends, each of which seems to be heading toward a crisis.  Our national situation is fast approaching (or already at) the situation of California:  Does anyone think that any governor, Republican or Democrat, can fix the problems of that state?  Regardless, here are a few thoughts, not necessarily the most important ones, in the aftermath of the 2012 election.

  1. Although certain cores of both Obama's support and opposition were motivated for or against him on the basis of race, this time it is not possible to dismiss his election as merely a reaction to the novelty of the first black president.  That barrier was already broken, and in this election he was no longer a virtual unknown into whom voters could pour wildly inconsistent hopes.
  2. Romney's showing was pathetic; he did not carry a single "swing state".  I didn't think he would win, but I did think he would carry Virginia and Florida.  This is what happens when a candidate is fielded who has the charisma of a bowl of cold oatmeal.  I don't think Obama is especially charismatic -- nothing on the scale of Reagan or Clinton -- but he's got more personal appeal than Romney.  Taken together with a cautious campaign set up (like McCain's) to be good losers rather than winners and that was only able to motivate its base through fear, this was a recipe for disaster.
  3. The Republicans will almost certainly win in 2016 -- well, unless they run a complete loser of a candidate, a possibility that cannot be dismissed.  There are reasons for thinking this.
    • We seem to have moved past the era when presidents groomed their successors.  Biden has no chance of winning the presidency at the head of the ticket; he's too goofy, and in 2016 he'll be too old.  Hillary Clinton perhaps could win, but she will be 69 in 2016; she lost her one real chance in 2008.
    • There seems to be a pattern in which voters become so disgusted at each party in turn that it takes them 2 terms from the other party to switch them back.  Clinton fatigue was real and contributed to both of Bush's wins; Bush's unpopular mistakes have a lot to do with Obama's successes; and in 4 more years, people will be fed up with Obama's failings, too.
  4. Speaking of complete losers of candidates, can we put to bed the idea that a candidate deserves the nomination just because "it's his turn"?  That was most prominently the case with Bob Dole.  Clinton had vulnerabilities in 1996, but Dole was a terrible candidate (and the worst speaker I have ever heard at that level of politics) and was unable to exploit those vulnerabilities.  McCain and Romney seem to have also been given the nomination as a kind of "lifetime achievement award".  The really successful candidates from either side seem to never be familiar party hacks.
  5. You would think that at this point the spell-checker for Google Blogger would recognize the name Biden and the possessive "Obama's".  Nope.

No comments:

Post a Comment