Obama’s victory and the GOP’s next step

7 November, 2008

Daniel Finkelstein suggests Barack Obama won the US presidency because of changes in the population’s ethnic makeup and social mobility. The first is undoubtedly an important factor in allowing Obama to win, but the fact that the majority describe themselves as “middle class” is hardly pertinent.

Obama won because of the disastrous decisions of the previous administration, but also because he appealed to small “c” conservatives with his solid and sensible persona, as opposed to that freakshow the GOP was running (has anyone pointed out that “team of mavericks” is an oxymoron?).

Diehard critics say that Obama is a novice who would have won anyway, and at the same time a superslick politician who won because he fooled the voters. I say you can’t have it both ways. Fact is, Obama may be a short-term senator, but he was schooled on the hard streets of Chicago: he’s a player, and worse for the Republicans, he’s a player who’s somehow retained a modicum of compassion and integrity.

McCain could’ve been the man in 2000, but he was too old to be the man this year, too old and compromised by his machinations such as sidling up to Bush Jr for additional clout, after Bush had stabbed him in the back, and denying him again when the electoral cock crowed. McCain could’ve been the man, except that Karl Rove has, in turning the GOP over to its extreme elements, turned it into a circus of hate (now there’s a phrase to google!).

Now the diehard Republican rump is still growling into its beer, repeating the ridiculous slanders of “nigger”, “Muslim”, and “Communist”. For Christopher Hitchens watchers, he has descended even to the level of these cranks – did you know that, c.f. the Jeremiah Wright “scandal”, Hitchens criticised Obama for attending a “shade-oriented” church? For those too young to know, “shade” is an old, polite term for “nigger”. (Interesting additional comment here.) Hitchens is another sad example of England’s tolerance for high-spoken drunks (Kingsley Amis, Jeffrey Bernard). Apparently, during post-election coverage on the Australian ABC network, Hitchens started ranting (via satellite) to the point where they had to cut him off.

Maybe if the GOP spends even more money on even more ridiculous propaganda, turning the whole population of the USA into survivalist millenialists, then they’ll get back into office. But I hope they don’t. I hope they discard the crazier elements of their base, and establish themselves as the small “c” conservative party: modest foreign policy objectives (as opposed to poorly planned, badly bungled exercises in cruelty to foreigners), financial prudence (as opposed to grotesque laisez faire disasters-in-waiting), and recognition that climate change is an urgent, non-partisan issue.

What are the odds of that, do you think?

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