After the longest and most expensive election in the history of the world, the final day is here at last.
It’s hard to believe. Some reflections as the day progresses…
Singing Songs and Carrying Signs
I live near a busy intersection, and this morning I woke (late) to repeated, sporadic honking and cheering. Supporters of the No on Prop 8 campaign were out picketing the intersection and encouraging people to honk to show their support… I complete support their campaign, and am adamantly opposed to Prop 8, but I can’t help but think that this picketing is a waste of energy. Does anyone really think that driving by a sign, being waved enthusiastically by a nice looking young person, reading “Vote No on Prop 8 – Unfair and Wrong” will change the mind of someone who until then had planned to vote yes?
I think the ads for this proposition – pro and con – were some of the more decisive political ads I have seen in recent years. The scare- (and hate-) mongering in the pro ads, claiming – completely falsely – that schools would be required to teach children about gay marriage would have been very effective, I imagine, with people who generally are not that bothered about what queers in San Francisco do, but don’t want their kids exposed to it. The con ads were also very effective, particularly the one with the state superintendent of schools refuting the claim about teaching gay marriage and attacking that use of children in a lying political ad, and the one with the older couple talking about their gay daughter. Those three ads would really have played on the issues and values of the undecided, who I suspect make up a fairly large proportion of state voters (homophobes being a small, and hopefully dwindling group).
But picketing an intersection on election day? On an issue like that? Everyone knows about it, and I am sure has already decided how to vote. It seems more like an exercise in morale boosting for the “No on Prop 8” people than anything else – saying “Hurray for our side”…
The Race Card
Everyone kept waiting for it to be played, but the mainstream consensus seems to be that it wasn’t, and the McCain campaign is getting praise for their restraint… Praise? For not pandering to racism? What about the fact that they while they did tar Obama with the “socialist” brush, they held back from accusing him of Satanism – should they be praised for that?
Well, uh, actually accusations about Obama’s Satanism are out there. On PRI’s “The World” on Monday, November 3, a woman volunteering at a McCain campaign office in Florida said that, “honest to God,” Obama is the Anti-Christ. And of course, Fox News also had to get into the act…
In fact, the “race card” has cropped up repeatedly, including in the mainstream media, though often in subtle forms. One of these is the discussion of the “historic” African-American support for Obama – the implication seeming to be that black people are voting for Obama because he’s black. Reports that the majority of white men support McCain serve a similar function – suggesting that people are voting their race rather than “on the issues.”
But of course those percentages are very much in line with white male and African-American voting patterns in past elections. Obama may get a slightly higher percentage of the black vote than previous Democratic presidential candidates, but it is a small difference.
The whole thing is going to be fodder for endless speculation and discussion in the weeks and months – and years – to come. Books will be written, doctorates will be awarded, careers will be made and destroyed, fortunes made and destroyed over this election. But…
Cynicism Never Goes Out of Style
I hate that even as the first presidential candidate I have genuinely liked – Barack Obama – looks poised to win, I can’t stop being a bit cynical… But I guess I just gotta be me. So here are some cynical, curmudgeony predictions for an Obama presidency.
Roe v Wade, and abortion more generally, and gay rights will not cease to be “wedge” issues in American politics. Obama will not use his bully pulpit and his unquestionable commitment to his Christian faith to try to lay these issues to rest.
The Financial Crisis
US financial institutions will take advantage of the crisis to consolidate and streamline – passing off bad mortgage debt and picking up some low-hanging fruit, like WaMu and Wachovia. The end result will be fewer banks, but better (ie richer).
The US will (somewhat) clean up its act – but some of that will be in the form of a push for “clean coal” rather than a more concerted push into truly clean, renewable energy sources. Meanwhile, US corporations will continue to fiddle while Rome burns – or more precisely, to rake in record profits as the planet burns and drowns, as Exxon did last week, posting the highest profit ever recorded by a U.S. company.