observations and opinion
The Obama Campaign holds resolutely to the line that the firewall is solid – Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and Nevada are not in play, and the Romney forays there are head fakes, designed to gin-up a sense of momentum to dupe the media. The Obamans even talk bravely of holding Florida, and have better hopes of hanging on to New Hampshire or Virginia.
The Romnoids are spectacularly good at transmitting happy vibrations – they may even believe it now. Reporters on the ground really seem to feel it too (read some blogs, listen to POTUS, they know in their bones that Romney isn’t beaten yet).
The numbers say that Obama will prevail – Nate Silver, now every Democrat’s favourite blogger, has ratcheted the President’s chances up to 85 percent this morning. He bet Joe Scarborough two grand on the outcome. One hopes that he takes Joe’s money, and that Axelrod hangs onto his precious moustache. We are in a match-up, once again, of reality versus fantasy, facts versus foxfacts, science versus magic.
Yet politics is a show, a drama, and by now everyone should know that the facts do not always prevail – actually, they seldom do when drowned out by a roaring flood of mean-spirited fiction and prejudice. The President is, and looks, tired. The campaign sends out constant emails seeking volunteers, desperate to get every voter out. As they should be. No matter what they say, the Obamans are not sure they will win.
If they do not – if Romney pulls out a win on November 6th – it will really be the victory of fantasy over reality. A fantasy of what Mr. Romney himself personally is; a fantasy of numbers that do not add up; a fantasy world of female vessels for male virility, a theme park where Adam and Eve ride dinosaurs to the prom. The Land Before Time.
The other day the President rather sloppily said that “voting is the best revenge”, a statement which sounded small and chippy coming from the man who hugged Chris Christie. Typically the rightist pundits pounced at this most un-presidential turn of phrase.
But listen to the other would-be President. In the vast sea of words to spools out of Governor Romney’s mouth, almost nothing is reliable or real, except perhaps for one sentence: “Let’s take our country back!” It is striking how this slogan, with all the ugliness and divisiveness it connotes, has escaped serious attention in 2012.
Historians write about Nixon’s infamous Southern Strategy in 1968, with its code words to comfort and woo segregationist-minded voters. The Southern Strategy worked – it is still working today for the GOP. What we hear in the Romney-Ryan language of 2012 is the White Man Strategy. “They” are taking our country, our jobs, our wives and daughters, boys. Time to take our country back!
Of course, Messrs Romney and Ryan have little interest in the real needs even of their own voters. Because when they say “Let’s take our country back!” Willard and Paul are really speaking to a much smaller audience, one which is quite happy to exploit the racial and economic anxieties besetting Americans. When Willard speaks, you know that this is the one true thing that he believes, and that he will try to do.
The arc of history is long, as the President used to quote MLK, but it bends towards justice. That is true, although you have to keep the pressure on to bend it. Even if the President loses this election (a catastrophe in many ways), the past is not returning for a second show in America. The Republicans’ infamous “they” aren’t going anywhere, except wedding chapels and delivery rooms all across the country. “They” will prevail, and will bend the arc of history, with or without President Obama.
But it would be sweeter, and much less painful, if he’s along for the ride.