Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Just a Shove Away

I have been pondering the possibility of an Obama victory for weeks. Honestly, I didn't think he stood a chance. I could cite 100 reasons- from golf to Gitmo- on why this man should not have won last night.

So how the hell did he do it?

The answer isn't in the hundreds of things that Obama ignores, hides, or screws up. Clearly that has little to do with his electability. Instead I have to ask, "What is it that people see and like about Obama?" Clearly Obama can talk and bullshit. He certainly has style and charisma. He can also be quite humorous. But great delivery is just too simplistic given this man's successes. Can everything be explained that easily?

Last night I listened to Obama's victory speech. It was articulate, emotional, powerful, and appealing. It was that last adjective that I began mulling over. I was overcome with an explanation that is actually quite simple. It grew more complex as I pondered what it meant and how it applied to a vast majority of people who support Obama. It's not voter stupidity that gets Obama elected- although his opponents will say that it is. It's something far different than that. Maybe Obama presents appeal and a rallying point, and then magically and individually, history does the rest.

Imagine growing up in a world well beyond your control. You cannot change the color of your skin or your social status. This world is governed by older men, mostly white, who tell you how to behave and find ways to punish you if you don't do as you are told. Initially this may be your parents and relatives, maybe teachers and cops, professors and bosses, bankers or any number of people asserting themselves in your life. It's authority. It's people lording over us, arbitrarily assigning ridicule and punishment. It's not really the color of their skin that pisses us off although that confuses us at times- it is the fear, the not knowing, and sometimes the punishment that the people in authority represent. We make mistakes and very often the consequences don't fit the crime. Sometimes the punishment is severe. Maybe it's something as simple as a turn down letter from some old white bastard at the bank or a boss that refuses to give us a day off that he could easily accommodate. Maybe we are just frustrated that we can't find decent work.

As the world exerts itself upon us, there are the commonalities. Biases exist. We can't prove them but we can feel them. We feel the impact. Little by little, all those wrongs perceived, imagined, or real have a cumulative effect. Mostly, there's nothing we can do.

So that is the struggle. It is certainly a class struggle and it is certainly a racial struggle. It might be a gender struggle. But mostly it is a struggle that we all share. All of those struggles have a cumulative effect on us. Deep down, we see the world as an unfair place. We don't talk about that because that's just the way life is and all the whine in the world will not change that. We see ourselves as underdogs. We bottle up and harbor all of our resentments and we stuff them. Years and years worth. We even forget that we have all those deep seated resentments. Until something activates them.

We don't identify with old, rich, elite, white men. We may have once, but that class of people are the villains now. The people who have assigned punishment or interfered with our lives or our upward mobility. They are our owners.. We don't have anything in common with them- in fact we kind of resent them. They always seem to win and somehow- we always seem to lose.

But Barack Obama, surely he's felt the struggle. He knows what it is like to get turned down for a promotion, to get in trouble for smoking a little weed. He knows what it's like to be told by old white men what to do. Obama has wide appeal. Not just to that giant melting pot of minorities- but by every working stiff who struggles. Deep down, people are all just a little pissed at old, rich whitey, making the rules up as he goes.

Those resentments don't go away- even when you think you've forgotten about them. There are those who see Obama as the under dog. This poor black kid of dubious origin who has risen above the ashes and removed the chains that old man whitey would shackle him with. Obama is their only means of payback. Their way of saying kiss my ass. As I write this morning, the DJIA is down 350 points and nobody in the liberal camp is shedding a tear. They could care less. All of those taunts and threats implied or otherwise- by the ruling elite- are just so much bullshit. I got no skin in this game old whitey, you took it all.

And I gotta tell ya, the GOP deserves this. They have worked hard to alienate everyone but old man whitey. They even alienate their own. They need guys like me- because they can't stand on their own. But they don't try to include anyone- they merely exclude. It's not hard to divide and conquer a target that manages to self destruct on it's own.

I went to Ace of Spades to see the whine today. It's like a bunch of babies. The moonbats gotta be loving every minute of that. Never give your enemies what they crave. Never.

The GOP made two mistakes. The people in this country are changing. The old guard is becoming the minority and bringing up one more old, rich, white man to run in 2016 might not be a very good idea. Old, rich whitey might have had a better chance of running for office in China where all of those cheap exported jobs are.

We got another, bigger problem. It is already here. If we continue to take sides and stay divisive...we are all going over the cliff together. It may already be too late in which case I will say, maybe that's just the nature of things. Maybe that's just the way things gotta go. We had it way too good for way too long. Maybe we're just a shove away. I will leave you with a quote, although disputed, I am convinced it is de Tocqueville's.

A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy.


Anonymous said...

"Maybe Obama presents appeal and a rallying point, and then magically and individually, history does the rest."

In the part of the world I live in, that is called populism. It is an easy sell.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I don't give a shit about a candidate's color, race, sexual orientation, gender or whether they hang the toilet paper roll over or under (sorry, that last one is not drives me bonkers when the roll is under). All I care about is one thing: will this bastard/bitch change the structure of government so that there's less meddling in my life? If the answer is yes, you have my vote. If the answer is no, then fuck off. Now, if either the Democrats or Republicans had advanced a candidate like Ilona Staller (now there's a politician for you!), then I might have been a bit more induced to vote.

captbob said...

I think you put your finger on it. Especially when compared with Romney. It's not "populism" -- Obama is no Huey Long or George Wallace -- but you do get a sense that he's struggled against real odds, and we like that.