Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Why I'm Gratified By The Result Of The US Elections

So Obama has won re-election with 332 electoral college votes, beating even my prediction of 320.

As the meme goes, not bad.


I'm very happy about the result, but it may surprise many to know that it has nothing to do with Obama himself. In fact, Obama as President has been deeply disappointing to me.

He was supposed to have rolled back the Bush-era assaults on civil rights. He did nothing of the kind, and even gleefully extended them. He didn't close down Guantanamo Bay. The US government continues to be Big Brother under an Obama administration. It's the Obama administration that is going after Julian Assange so stealthily and vengefully. As Gerry Caplan says, "[...] the list of areas where the president already betrayed so many hopes is long and disheartening -- justice, drones, torture, police brutality, inequality, prisons, African Americans, poverty, education, Africa, gun control, war on drugs, whistleblowing, climate change, the Middle East." So what was all the idealism of 2008 about? ("You can't intrude into our private lives like this!" "Yes, we can!")

What I'm really happy about is the defeat of the party I like to call the Retaliban Party. A more mediaeval bunch of crazies I've never seen. Just like their counterparts in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the American Taliban are anti-liberal, anti-women, homophobic, anti-science, creationist gun-loving bigots who take their holy book literally and hate anyone unlike themselves. And since the US isn't made up exclusively of rich, old, white, straight men, they got the sharp rebuke they deserved.

I'm alarmed about the increasing reports of misogyny from around the world, and I do hope the increase is only in the reporting. It's even worse when one of the supposedly most advanced countries in the world exhibits such behaviour. We've seen a fair amount of it during the just-concluded campaign season in the US.

In all the excitement over the presidential election, it's easy to overlook the results of the congressional elections. Here too, my cup runneth over. My two favourite crazies, former senators Todd Akin of Missouri and Richard Mourdock of Indiana, both Republicans (what else?), got the boot as well.

Todd Akin believes women's bodies have the ability to "shut down" unwanted pregnancies in cases of what he called "legitimate rape"

Richard Mourdock believes that pregnancies, even as a result of rape, were "intended by God"

Well, the American political system clearly has the ability to shut out legitimate idiots, and they would have to agree that this result too must have been intended by God.

[Update 08/11/2012: I also realised that an Obama victory is likely to have more durable effects on American society. And this is through the appointment of Supreme Court justices. In Obama's first term, he replaced liberal-leaning David Souter with another liberal, Sonia Sotomayor, in effect merely retaining the status quo and preventing a lurch to the right. In his second term, he has the opportunity to actively move the court to the left by replacing one or more retiring conservative judges with liberal ones. The effect could last decades.]

A couple of months ago I predicted the Republicans would lose this Presidential election and never win one again until they changed themselves drastically. I guess that view is now partially vindicated. 2016 will tell if the rest of it plays out as I think it will.

It isn't a day of just gloating for me, though. I must say I deeply appreciate one aspect of both Presidential candidates. It's that both Obama and Romney are good family men, deeply devoted to their wives and children. Throughout the campaign, however ugly it got, there was nary a suggestion of improper sexual behaviour about either of the men. After the unsavoury exposés of Bill Clinton, John Edwards, Newt Gingrich and many other presidents and presidential candidates, it was a relief to be considering two wholesome men for a change.

I really like this photo of the Obamas, taken after the result was known.

"No ma'am, he's not an Ay-rab. He's a decent family man" - John McCain, 2008

Well, he's that all right. At the very least, Americans (and the world) have a good role model in the First Family.
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