I’ve been holding off on commenting on the results of the election, simply to take a deep breath and consider the results, rather than react to them. So much of the rhetoric in the last election suggested that elections may still be about ideas, but the ideas were irrational. We were re-introduced to the concepts of voter fraud as a justification for suppressing votes and “legitimate rape”. We were told that corporations had the same rights as a human being and that money would not affect elections. The embrace of the irrational began as an animus toward science by the GOP and culminated in an admission by an advisor to their candidate that facts are irrelevant.
In the end, the truth rang out through both the process and the result of the election with a certain clarity that can’t be denied. What did we learn about our Country in November? One undeniable fact is that the country is divided along many fault lines.
Class is one fault line. The disparity between the rich and the rest of us has never been greater than at any time in our history. (How ironic is it that Romney officially garnered 47% of the popular vote? Now he truly is Mr. 47%). Maybe the reality that our society is rapidly becoming one where no matter how hard you work, you won’t get ahead is coming home to roost in elections.
Culture is another fault line, although the older generation dominated by white men seems to be fading as fast as John McCain’s grasp of reality. America has always been a diverse nation, but now it is no longer dominated by European cultures.
However, the primary fault line dividing us today is one that has been there from the beginning – race. This Country is still cursed with legacy of slavery, and the lamenting words of Benjamin Franklin that slavery would ultimately destroy the Republic still ring truer than not.
The religious right support of a Latter Day Saint exposed the lie to their hysterical rhetoric about electing a “Muslim” Obama as President of a “Christian Nation” in the previous election. It was always about race, not religion.
The Conservative ideological grip of “Big Government” among Southern voters has always been rooted in race. The South has always been the biggest recipient of Federal largess, so why do you think white Southerners (who receive most of the welfare benefits) are so fearful of their economic benefactor – Federal government? Start with 1863 (Emancipation Proclamation) to 1957 (Little Rock) to 1965 (Voting Rights Act). That grip on the South is beginning to loosen not because white Southerners are changing, but because the South is becoming less white.
Enough said about the election. After all, the election only highlights the real struggle for economic justice in our society. Without race as the tool to divide Americans, what will the 1% use to cause many of us to vote against our self interests? The next battleground will be the “Fiscal cliff” negotiations. This is where we will see if our votes really mattered.