Liberty is great, but I’ve always been of the opinion Patrick Henry would have settled for less as an alternative to the big sleep when it got to crunch time. Even under tyranny, unless it’s of the theocratic strain one is usually able to get a drink, and if you’re lucky a Colombian call girl. It’s not universal suffrage, but it can hold you till the time comes.
Especially in these days of ideological absolutism on the right, the era of the reactionary drama queen, declamations of blustery martyrdom should be discouraged as much as possible since Republicans have all but ruined them for everybody. A Republican nominee is required to all but declare, “Give me zero inheritance tax or give me the electric chair,” or, “Obliterate Medicare and Social Security or give me the exhaust pipe.”
Which is one reason I don’t really believe Mitt Romney has much of a chance at all, or that he will run the neck and neck race several pundits are predicting he will, and the media would of course favor. The Republican debates were a call to martyrdom if there ever was one, refusing to blast oneself to ideological kingdom come just another way of legally changing your name to Infidel.
Yes, when cable cognoscenti promise a tight race and Bill Maher says liberals are kidding themselves about the viability of the Mighty Mittens they express the belief voters may be easily fooled, that with rivers of one-percent money flowing into Citizens United born superpacs Obama is merely a couple of bad economic numbers away from the guillotine. And that isn’t a crazy notion.
Still, it’s worth keeping in mind that incumbency remains a powerful tool, as well as that it is hardly some frivolous misconception that the Republican Party is barking like an ideological mad dog and that everybody in the electorate can hear it. Ask Jon Huntsman or any number of stalwart conservative Republicans warning the party of the perils of its unabashed batshittery and predicting a looming apocalypse. Add to this that Romney has the personal magnetism of a ripe turnip dressed in a smart suit, with history-making negative numbers.
Republicans tend to be feared as would any foe with the scruples of necrotic bacteria, as likely to take money out of the church collection plate as to put it in. But the punch of Republican propaganda is fear of the unknown, or the smearing of the little known, and in the opponent of a personally liked and admired incumbent president their reeking arsenal is more likely to blow up in their faces than to frag Obama.
Despite under-achieving in some respects, all in all, given his implacable enemies and the rampant nihilism that consumed his opposition President Obama managed to prevent Bush’s Republican Plague from blossoming into a full depression, to bring back economic growth and improving employment numbers, to kill Bin Laden and to salve a suppurating health system. Voters beyond the conservative booby hatch, the majority of American voters regard the President as a person of substance and a person of admirable temperament, a pragmatist with a centrist heart, or a mildly liberal one. Mitt, the yo-yoing Banker-in-Chief retained as vessel of current Republican extremity isn’t striking me as scarily formidable, no matter how many billions Rove funnels into the smear machine.
Still, with a party as far around the bend as Republicans are, and as conceivably close to power, elections are destined as dangerous times. My own belief is that it will take several consecutively bloody presidential losses and lengthy minority status in the houses of congress before a subsiding of zealotry on the right will even begin, thoroughly reconsidered by the breadth of the Republican Party as a lost and unworthy cause. In the meantime, my survival instinct tells me to contribute money to the president’s cause, and whatever time and energy is at my disposal.