Barack Obama has been re-elected to a second term. I voted for the president, and I’m beyond gladdened that Obamacare will be implemented as planned, that there’s a chance of a slightly more fair system of taxation, and that the Supreme Court has no chance of suddenly going off the cliff to the right.
But there’s another reason I’m glad the president won: because a Romney/Ryan victory would have both rewarded and validated some of the most indefensible behavior I’ve ever seen in politics.
First there was the strategy by the Congressional Republicans to block and filibuster just about every Democratic legislative initiative—even bills long supported by Republicans—and blame the gridlock on the President. This led into a laughable, extremist-dominated Republican presidential primary during which, somehow, Rick Santorum was only the fourth- or fifth-most loathsome candidate.
Then there was Romney’s general election presidential campaign, which even by 21st century American political standards, was remarkably dependent on naked falsehoods, from “gutting of the welfare requirement” to “apology tour” to Romney’s decision in the race’s final month to abruptly reverse numerous core positions, while denying that he had done so.
But more vile than either of those is the birther conspiracy and other associated, oft-repeated smears that amount to nothing less than the most vicious, sustained campaign of character assassination in American political history.
At various times over the past five years, the President has been accused of not really being an American, of lying about his religion and even his parentage, on top of every racial slur and variations on communist/socialist/“Kenyan anti-colonialist.”
The President, we’re told, also has a wide variety of hidden agendas that, thus far, have remained hidden. Confiscating guns, instituting Sharia law, banning the suburbs? It’s all right around the corner, and for as long as Obama is president, it always will be.
The people doing this are not only at the fringe. They’re a combination of serially dishonest, conspiracy-mongering elected officials like Michele Bachmann, Louie Gohmert and Steve King, dozens of book authors and documentarians and media outlets like World Net Daily, Dick Morris’s operation and numerous others, whose business models depend on scaring—and lying to—their own audiences.
There’s huge, huge money in this stuff, and the gravy train will now roll on for four more years. I suspect the likes of the publishers of World Net Daily, and nutty author Jerome Corsi are secretly thrilled at Obama’s victory, because they’ve made a whole lot of cash off hatred of the president.
Since 2007, the Republicans have been battling a pretend, fictional Barack Obama who doesn’t exist—the one who’s a black supremacist, governs according to Marxist principles, and hates America and God. As Jon Stewart memorably joked after the Clint Eastwood chair speech, “there’s an invisible Obama that only Republicans can see.”
Tuesday proved something that’s been apparent for some time: A solid majority of the electorate doesn’t see the Obama that the hard right sees. America heard all the conspiracy theories, and voted Obama back into office anyway.
So now the Republicans will begin another period of inward thinking and self-examination—and will undoubtedly conclude that they lost because they weren’t conservative, forceful, or mean enough.
We can debate whether Obama deserved to be re-elected. But there’s no doubt whatsoever that the Republicans deserved to lose.