Pick your beleaguered cliché: a pivotal election, a landmark election, a watershed election, this election actually fills the bill. Only one side can win of course, and the losing combatant in this one will walk away bloodied, demolished and mortally wounded. Demographics highly favor Democrats for now, and for the foreseeable future. But the state of the American press, inherent structural advantages manipulated by the right to additionally favor Republicans over several previous decades, along with the political benefits of entrenched power and wealth work to the advantage of the Republican Party.
While the increasing demographic advantages would lend a resiliency to Democrats unavailable to Republicans should they lose, Republican power is such at the moment the argument can be made that the coming election is an existential threat to Democrats simply because bouncing back from death is very hard. What is most striking about the triumph of the American right, triumph defined here as retaining political viability and locking in favorable structural change is that Republicans managed it without very many Americans agreeing with them on much of anything, the exception being hard core cultural conservatives on issues like abortion. Conservative slogans tend to be popular, while conservative governance, conservative policy prescriptions and conservative ideology aren’t.
But the right has triumphed over the media with a methodical decades-long campaign of whining, bullying, complaining and badgering to the point that traditional media fear to proclaim the factual or to denounce the naked lie in their slavering deference to the “appearance of balance.” The long sought attainment of a post-factual world by the Republican Party wherein truth and fact are easily subjugated to propaganda and marketing would seem a nearly irreversible Republican victory at this point. Combine this with the influx of unlimited money into the political process, corporate hegemony and the domination of concentrated private wealth over the government, economic structure, the tax code, the regulatory regime and the Supreme Court and the full imposition of a feudal America hardens into an invincible fortress. What marginal countervailing power of government against this mammoth entrenched and reactionary force that remains can be summed up for all intents and purposes in two words: Barack Obama. A loss of the executive branch and the further consolidation of Republican ideology and priorities now would be literally lethal for America.
Perhaps the worst danger of a Romney victory would be its validation of his and his campaign’s ink-black cynicism and contempt for accountability; its depraved defiance of fact, its etch-a-sketch hostility to any obligation to citizens and voters to convey some abiding philosophy or principles, or more than the vaguest agenda. Yes, winning is important in America and especially idolized by the corporate sector and the business world in whose bosom Romney affectionately snuggles. But unlike political campaigns historically, this one doesn’t shade truth, doesn’t hedge it, doesn’t bend it, doesn’t exaggerate: Rather, it lies remorselessly and without shame or fear of consequence. Any more contemptuous of material fact, any more brazenly embracing of lying as nothing more than an effective, morally neutral tool for success, any more confident in the suzerainty of the post-factual world than the Romney campaign’s declaration that, ‘We’re Not Going to Let Our Campaign Be Dictated by Fact-Checkers’ it is impossible to imagine.
It should matter that a candidate has taken every position on every issue and is contemptuous enough of voters that either he doesn’t care, or doesn’t think they’ll know. And if Romney wins it will mean that it matters not. The idea that America could sink to such a basement standard of character evaluation is dolorous indeed. The fact that the election is as close as it is given Romney’s glaring moral and political deficiency is a testament to the solidity of the new post-factual world in which we live. More practically, the prospect of a Romney victory should alarm all inhabitants of the reality based community if only because it will reinforce, again with absolutely certain lethal consequences the bizarre denialism concerning climate change, the diving into the sand of a pride of petroleum and ideology drenched ostrich heads. Throw in the inevitable hatchets coming out for the safety net in a Romney era, the all but guaranteed recession from a foolish, ideologically imposed austerity, more Bush-style economic failure, a further ratcheting up of already historic economic inequality, wage stagnation and a return to the stupidly bellicose and self-defeating foreign policy of Cheney-Bush and the hair on the head of the left should be standing fully at attention.
Why should the right be terrified, and why is their current desperation palpable and manifest, even with the advantages that they enjoy? For one, demographically it is their last hurrah. Republicans’ inability to exercise self-control over their gratuitous hostility toward every minority from African-Americans (Obama is the “food stamp president” and a native of Kenya), immigrants, gays and all non-white, non-straight, non-affluent, non-far-right members of the American community now has alienated all of those citizens probably for generations, just at the same time that the Republican base of geriatric, often bigoted and confused white people (Hello, Tea Party) is withering away. So if Republicans whiff with Romney, the hurdle will only grow higher next time.
No doubt Republicans fear, and wisely so, that Obama’s re-election will entrench the Affordable Care Act and health reform, as its various elements come into full effect, and Americans begin to fully participate…and, not insignificantly, begin to fully understand what the reforms entail and their inarguable benefits, at which point Americans shall embrace the program as they earlier embraced the landmark reforms Social Security and Medicare. Again, not insignificantly the backlash against Republican falsifications pertaining to Obamacare is likely to be sharp. Republicans surely should be horrified at the prospect that under Obama the economy will continue to grow and employment will continue to rise, and President Obama, and by extension Democrats will receive the unambiguous credit. Cynical Republicans no doubt understand that during a second Obama term increased revenue from an improved economy and the expiration of expensive Bush tax cuts will significantly reduce the deficit, another Democratic president credited with rectifying another Republican budget mess.
Any Republican concerned about the electoral fate of the Republican Party must understand that during the second term of an Obama presidency the radicalized Republican House of Representatives will perpetuate its intransigence and obstructionism to the dismay of the American people, and will kookily fly its freak flag high, alienating mainstream America even further from the Republican brand. John Sununu, Newt Gingrich, Donald Trump, Rush Limbaugh and the full haberdashery of ass-hattery will tarnish the brand with more batshittery. The combination of an increasingly eccentric and ideologically fanatical opposition to progress with evolving demographics in favor of Democrats will under an Obama second term stigmatize American conservatism as an outlier of the modern political world, and relegate the Republican Party to a long enduring minority status. Per istam sanctan unctionem et suam piissimam misericordiam, indulgeat tibi Dominus quidquid per (visum, audtiotum, odorátum, gustum et locutiónem, tactum, gressum deliquisti).