I was pleased to learn last night that Barack Obama had scored re-election as President of the United States. Alot of people seem to be treating this as if it’s some kind of shock or upset, in spite of the fact that virtually every reputable statistical model has unambiguously predicted his victory for months. I suspect, however, that the surprise comes mainly from those who actively went out of their way to believe what manifestly wasn’t true.
But, frankly, that’s pretty much the defining characteristic of the Republican Party these days, isn’t it? When conservatives* find a fact that they don’t like, they just start pretending that reality behaved in a way that was more ideologically convenient to them.
You can see examples of this in virtually every issue. To cite a by-no-means extensive list:
- Climate Science unambiguously says that the Earth is undergoing potentially catastrophic warming as a result of Human activities…but acknowledging this fact would concede that government regulation of industry is sometimes necessary. So they pretend it’s all a conspiracy by evil scientists looking to sap government funding, or communists looking to cripple the economies of the developed world.
- Biological and Paleontological science unambiguously supports the idea of Darwinian evolution by natural selection over the course of four billion years. Cosmology and Astrophysics show that the Universe began in a cataclysm over fourteen billion years ago. But acknowledging either of these things would concede that the Biblical account of creation (that everything was created, exactly as it is today, over the course of six days about six thousand years ago) could not possibly be literally true. So therefore evolution and big bang theory are “lies out of the pit of hell.”
- Economics and historical experience show that supply-side economics and deregulation have failed to actually boost government revenues pretty much every time they have ever been tried. But acknowledging this fact would (a) necessitate raising taxes on the very rich, and (b) imply that Saint Ronald Reagan was incompetent. Therefore, only far left radical communists oppose supply-side policies, and they do so because they hate freedom.
- Sociological research continues to show that gays are no more likely to be rapists or pedophiles than anyone else, and that children who grow up in gay families are just as normal and well-adjusted as anyone else. But it’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve, so there must be something wrong with it!
- Gynecology unambiguously shows that women can just as easily become pregnant from rape as they can from consensual insemination. But acknowledging this fact would imply that being opposed to abortion in all cases, and implementing policies to humiliate and shame women seeking them out, are acts of pure evil that only complete monsters could ever contemplate. Therefore, women can’t become pregnant from “legitimate rape.”
And of course, I could go on. And on. And on. But I feel that you catch my drift.
The thing is, though, that once you reach the point where you are psychologically capable of denying one fact in spite of overwhelming evidence, you can deny any fact in spite of overwhelming evidence. And that, ultimately, is why Romney and crew lost last night: they were campaigning as if they lived in a parallel universe. You can see windows into this universe by watching Fox News.
In this alternate reality, Barack Obama, far from being one of the single best and most charismatic orators of the past fifty years, is a bumbling fool who is incapable of stringing a coherent sentence together without aid of a teleprompter. Rather than ascending from his humble origins due to competence or ambition, he was promoted up, unjustly, by Affirmative Action programs, and only got to become President because white voters were afraid that they would look racist if they voted against him. In this reality the overwhelming majority of Americans share in the Tea Party’s vehement hatred of the man and everything that he has done, and are just sitting around, waiting and eager to elect the first White Messiah to show-up and rescue them from socialism.
And that’s why they lost. Because, in the alternate universe, their campaign strategy was a brilliant one. But this isn’t the alternate universe; this is the real world; and in the real world, running into an election campaign without any solid policy proposals or legitimate criticisms of the incumbent, and with a platform based around misogyny and calling half the population lazy moochers is a really bad idea.
Of course, it would be nice if the GOP finally learned its lesson and started once again acknowledging the real world. But given the way that they have been responding to this loss so far, I look forward to seeing Hillary Clinton become President in 2016.
*And I use the word loosely, because today’s self-avvowed conservatives are utterly divorced from the historical traditions of their philosophy