Hopeful Signs in US Election

The U.S. political process still has many flaws, but the voters turned back the most brazen assaults on democracy, from plutocrats trying to buy the election to Republicans seeking to suppress the votes of minorities. Fairness on gay marriage and other social issues also won, writes William Boardman.

By William Boardman

Election 2012 probably doesn’t prove anything, but it provides some evidence for the hopeful proposition that: even when the game is rigged, the cheaters lose. Some examples:

MONEY. Even though the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision allowed gross amounts of money (almost $6 billion) from known and unknown donors to distort the process, few elections near the top of the ballot appear to have been bought. But the down-ballot races may be most of the iceberg.

Voters standing in line at a polling station in New Hampshire. (Photo credit: barackobama.com)

Big money may not have overwhelmed the electoral system in 2012, but that’s far from saying big money doesn’t control too much of government and too many public officials.

PROCESS. Even though hyper-partisan Republican legislators, election officials and outside groups made a concerted effort by a variety of means to suppress voting by likely Democratic-leaning constituencies, there was sufficient pushback from the courts, the Justice Department and professional election officials to allow the democratic process to function pretty well.

Something like a fair and open election seems to have taken place in 2012, but the people who attacked the process mostly remain in power. Their gerrymandered Congressional districts will remain in place until the next census, in 2020. Unless these people begin to re-think their beliefs, they will continue to have strong motivation to skew the electorate in any way they can, and they will likely try.

PROPAGANDA. The results of Election 2012 may also support another hopeful proposition: denying reality is not as good a path to political victory as it used to be.

Maybe, there are positive portents, some straws in the wind:

OBSTRUCTIONISM. Republicans in Congress (and out) preferred to perpetuate economic suffering rather than risking the perception that the President had any success. Enough of a less than grateful nation understood this treacherous blackmail to prevent it from succeeding.

CLIMATE. The leading candidates ignored the issue of climate change. Then Hurricane Sandy helped the President win re-election. The big money still backs denial and continued planetary destruction.

WOMEN. Maybe it’s not God’s will when rape produces pregnancy. Candidates who believed it was ended up losing races they could have won. That was the will of the electorate.

MARRIAGE. The idea that two people who want to get married should have that right in modern America was endorsed by electorates for the first time. False gender stereotypes and appeals to a false notion of “traditional marriage” lost some of their power to cloud people’s minds.

MARIJUANA. “Reefer Madness” propaganda failed to persuade voters in two states. The dishonesty and stupidity of the “war on drugs” is becoming obvious to a majority of Americans. Does that majority include the President yet?

RACE. Years of overt and covert racism failed to prevent the President’s re-election. Is the country post-racial yet? Hardly. But people who agree with what Bill O’Reilly means when he says, “it’s not a traditional America anymore,” are part of a slowly contracting minority.

Some scales have fallen from some eyes, but the country still suffers from many chronic delusions. Probably the most dangerous is the near hysterical fear of Iran having a nuclear weapon.

We also remain deluded about the efficacy of nuclear weapons generally, as well as the rationality of nuclear power. And we still imagine that we’re so exceptional that we can and should work our will anywhere we want in the world. Even if we could, it wouldn’t be a good idea.

The totality of the election was not a victory so much as an escape from defeat. But there were enough smaller, real victories across the country to make the larger victory seem almost possible again.

William Boardman lives in Vermont, where he has produced political satire for public radio and served as a lay judge.

7 comments for “Hopeful Signs in US Election

  1. Otto Schiff
    November 10, 2012 at 15:14

    The usual Rehmat crap.

  2. Kay Ebeling
    November 10, 2012 at 11:23

    Morning rant at Chill Hippie Blog: My turn to say, America, Love it or Leave It, or at least, Indict Roger Ailes for Treason. Back in the Vietnam war era, I’d see bumper stickers that said, “America, Love it or Leave It” and the message was meant for people like me. After this past election, I want to find one of those bumper stickers and put it on my own car now. As a hippie flower child, now and then I’d try to reach out to a right winger. In fact one day in 1971 or so I was on a road trip with a van full of freaks, and we stopped in an Oklahoma diner… (go to cityofangels25.blogspot.com to continue reading.)

  3. rosemerry
    November 9, 2012 at 03:23

    The ridiculous concentration on gay marriage, at a time where marriage is really meaningless, shows the warped nature of US “society”. While record numbers of Mercans are incarcerated, mostly for nonviolent drug “crimes”, millions have no jobs and inadequate food and shelter, thousands are sent to other countries to kill and be killed to advance the military imperialism of a bankrupt nation, most of the remainder are spied on for “national security”, while they are more likely to be killed by falling furniture than killed by terrorist acts, the “christians” worry about other people’s private sex lives.

  4. F. G. Sanford
    November 8, 2012 at 21:46

    While everyone’s basking in the warmth of proximate gratification, try not to lose sight of the fact that hopeful signs and real solutions are two different things. If there was a victory, it was the dagger sheathed in velvet as opposed to the dull hatchet. The last “debt ceiling crisis” fraud, and it was a fraud, could easily have been nipped in the bud by executive order. It wasn’t, which should have been a red flag to anyone who understands “good cop-bad cop” politics. As the so-called “fiscal cliff” approaches, keep in mind that we’re going to play this charade again with the intention of convincing the gullible public that the only solution is to slash our economic civil rights, raise the bar against the social safety net, and insure that the 1% retains its unfettered ability to continue the hemorrhage of wealth in an upward direction. The whole purpose of this ‘theatre of the absurd’ is to convince the working class that the only solution is cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, education benefits, etc. It isn’t. Wall street needs to be held responsible for the depression it created, the wealthy need to return something to those who have enabled them to reap colossal dividends, and the vastly over-bloated defense cartels need to stop receiving carte blanche subsidization.

    We could start with a 1% tax on Wall Street transactions. We could also close down a few of those country club boondoggle overseas bases. Does anybody really believe our military really needs Wiesbaden when we already have Casteau, Brunssum, Rahmstein, Garmisch, Heidelberg, Landstuhl, Vicenza, Naples, Sigonella, La Maddalena and Rota? World War Two ended sixty seven years ago. John Boehner’s whiny speech about being reasonable and compromising is just part of the script. Get ready to be sold out while you’re still being lulled by strains of “Cumbaya”. The only good thing about the election so far is subjective: the dagger will be less painful than the hatchet, and we’ll bleed a little slower. This election bought a little more time to prepare a defense: nothing more and nothing less. If you want to retire at seventy instead of sixty five, keep singing Cumbaya. You can be reasonable if you trust Boehner, but I’d suggest being realistic and prepare to defend yourselves. Both cops are on the same team.

    • A Dossett
      November 10, 2012 at 02:00

      Couldn’t agree with you more.

  5. November 8, 2012 at 20:05

    Something is still wrong with ReaderSupportedNews but this alternate link works on peace winning by a landslide,

  6. November 8, 2012 at 19:54

    William Boardman listed 9 hopefuls signs but there is a 10th that I think is really awesome.
    The peace voter guides like Council for a Liveable World listed very positive results on the candidates they supported. In the Peace Voter TV ad, Kathy Boocker was being lectured and informed by peace leaders and she was agreeing with what they were saying. But her earlier urging President Obama to stop Ahmadinejad from speaking at the UN during Yom Kippur, her opponent claiming she would support all of Obama’s wars.

    Council for a Liveable World claims to have lost in Arizona. But Ron-Paul-like Jeff Flake, voted against the Afghan troop surge, earlier against continued funding of the Iraq War and the Cuban embargo.

    Once some were urging a Kucinich-Ron Paul ticket for a Peace Party. In that spirit, peace won by an overwhelming landslide

    Please Google for more detail,
    World Peace! the Opportune Moment is Now

    @ ReaderSupportedNews when it comes back on line

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