In the end, Barack Obama won, and the election was decided by the turnout among women and minorities. The Republicans had gone after Marty McFly's Delorean time machine. They wanted to return to a place and time where white men ruled. Did all Republicans want this? No. Some were aghast by the actions against a woman's right to choose, against the idea that rape is sex, horrified that anyone would suggest conception via rape could not happen because the female body would shut down and prevent it.
Nate Silver and PPP had the election called right because they didn't think the high Democratic turnout levels in 2008 were an anomaly. Fox & friends freaked out when they realized the results weren't going as they expected, that the science behind the polls were accurate and not skewed toward Democrats. It disconcerted me to watch them and realize they believed what they were saying. If they believed themselves to be right about the polls so strongly, as Romney insiders also confessed that they did, do they also sincerely believe that about climate change, austerity measures, small government, less taxes for the wealthy, and defense spending?
See, I thought many Republican leaders were being cynical, saying whatever was needed to be said to persuade voters. I didn't think they were actually ignoring empirical evidence, or that they believe their flawed numbers and specious reasoning.
But no. They seemed to believe what they were saying.
Which takes me to post election reactions. There were stories of fear after the election. On the left's side, people were thankful. Some cited worry that the US would return to Bush's economic policy and practice under a Romney presidency. Others worried about women's rights, union rights, and minority rights and the effect of a Romney presidency on the US social net.
There are good reasons for these fears. We saw the Bush economic free market and less taxes for the rich policy did to our budget surplus and national deficit. We watched bubbles burst, markets crash, and industries and jobs plummet. We've witnessed continual efforts to turn back the clock on minority, union, and women's rights through different bills proposed as well as speeches. Those worries were well-founded.
But on the right, I read that Barack Obama is a Muslim. He is a Socialist. He wasn't born in the United States. He is a dictator. That he wants to take everyone's guns away. I read that the election results were a result of Barack Obama's manipulation of the media and that he scared Republican voters away. I read that he was elected because the entitlement state was afraid that if Mitt got in there, the free ride would end.
How much of what is beind said on the right is truth? In other words, how well founded are these fears?
I don't consider them well founded at all. Evidence has been provided time and again about where Barack Obama was born and his religion, but that's always been dismayed by groups on the right. He's made no moves to take guns away from anyone. Do people sincerely believe he or the Democrats are so powerful that they control the entire media?
Is there any evidence of that?
And that is what is scary, that the politicians and so many followers on the right seem to have created their own set of empirical data, a belief system that the rest of us can't see and address because it defies logic, history and facts. Their system is enforced in the echo chambers where they live and think, forming their existence. Until those echo chambers are dismantled, we'll continue to be a divided nation, struggling to get out of our own way, falling short of the things that we as a nation and a people can do.
Barack Obama was right when he said we're not red states and blue states. But he didn't address the fearful states in which so many reside, cringing as their fears echo around them.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com