Columnists

Jerry West
U.S. election results no surprise

| November 19, 2012
Image: Poster Boy NYC/Flickr

Well, the election circus down south is over. Some people are happy, some are really frothing at the mouth, and most are glad that it is over. As some commentators have declared, it was a case of choosing the least vile option that decided the outcome. And, as others have pointed out, it is also a case of the banks and big business retaining control given that both of the candidates were in their pocket.

The Republicans ran such a wacko campaign one has to wonder what the real agenda was, or maybe still is. President Obama's first term has been a disappointment to many progressives, making him quite vulnerable, yet he retained enough support to do what previous presidents have not managed to do, retain his seat with a bad economy. He should have been easy pickings. That he was not can be attributed directly to the Republican courting of radical right-wing extremists like the Tea Party and assorted so-called "conservative" proto-fascists.

Look at the Republican nominating process. Mitt Romney, a moderate, even liberal, Republican, found himself in a primary contest with a coterie of more extreme conservatives being pushed by a very vocal and well-financed minority that took control of the whole process. In essence the far right body-snatched the Republican Party and convinced Romney and the Republicans that they had to drink the extremist Kool-Aid in order to survive.

What was in this Kool-Aid? Practically from the day that Obama became the candidate in 2008, the fringe right, funded by the Koch brothers and other like-minded and wealthy anti-democracy interests, began concocting an endless bag full of half-truths and fantasies.

Obama was born in Kenya, or somewhere else, or at least not a natural-born American, or this that or the other thing was one of their fairy tales that kept recycling despite evidence to the contrary. Romney did not go quite that far, but his supports like Donald Trump did, as did the usual assortment of babbling idiots on the talk shows that pander to the mentally challenged.

Another common charge from the fringe was that Obama is a traitor. This begs the question, of course, traitor to what. The same charge could be laid against George W. Bush or Ronald Reagan with equal veracity. It is a matter of perspective in most cases, and certainly puts the accuser outside of the norm. It gets truly laughable when on one hand there is an accusation of treason for releasing classified information in the case of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, and then criticism for not releasing what is probably classified information on the attack on the consulate in Benghazi.

The rabid right also likes to point at Obama and scream socialist. How credible is this? If they mean socialist in the classic sense of advocating public control of the means of production, what a hoot. How do they explain the bailout of Wall Street and the creation of a private enterprise-based health-care system that does more for insurance companies than for the public? On the other hand, if they mean socialistic in the sense that the government takes responsibility for certain functions and provides them to all through public finance, then what are they really saying? Are they opposed to the public military, fire and police services, highways and many other services that are publicly funded? Would any logical person assume that they are not?

The fringe is also populated with people who still claim that Obama is not a Christian, but a Muslim, and like to refer to him as Hussein. It is blatant bigotry and outside the mainstream of modern society.

Catering to the fringe, many Republican candidates stood against a woman's right to choose (an interesting position for people who claim to believe in freedom). Equal pay for women was also an issue with Republican candidates opposing equal pay for equal work. On top of this the fumbling of the rape issue by conservative candidates called into question what type of society could be expected should the reins of power be handed over to these people.

Why the Republican Party allowed itself to be deluded into believing it could profit from the Tea Party types is a question. Polling shows that the Tea Party is viewed favourably by only about 35 percent of the population in the U.S.

One can only guess at what is behind this apparent insanity that sharpened the divide in the country. Was it a miscalculation on the part of Republican strategists or is there a deeper agenda being played out? One thing is certain, however; on election day the American voter, forced to choose between a struggling, disappointing incumbent and a flaky challenger indebted to extremists, chose to not change anything for the time being.

Image: Poster Boy NYC/Flickr

Jerry West is the publisher, editor and janitor for The Record, an independent, progressive regional publication for Nootka Sound and Canada's West Coast.