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The Presidential Elections of 2012 in the U.S.: Denial and Democracy in Peril The Presidential Elections of 2012 in the U.S.: Denial and Democracy in Peril
by Dr. Emanuel Paparella
2012-11-14 11:09:40
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A few days ago Ovi magazine printed a disturbing report by Thanos Kalamidas of a new  European reality: the rise of Neo-Nazism and neo-Fascism as a proposed solution to the social problems that the EU is currently undergoing. At the same time we had an insightful and perceptive report by Leah Seller about the re-election of President Obama and what it means for US democracy.

I wish to focus on the second of these reports, namely the response to the overwhelming victory of President Obama from the so called and perhaps misnomed “loyal” opposition: the Republicans. The two issues look separate and distinct but, as I shall endeavor to show further down, they proceed from the same mind-set and lead to the same misguided conclusion.

One would have thought that having been resoundly defeated and chastened by the election’s results the Republicans would have by now accepted them and would have begun a thoughtful process of introspection and soul searching to ascertain why they were defeated and where they went wrong. Far from that being the case, what one has been hearing lately, via their major outlet Fox News, are rationalizations and excuses galore to explain away the electoral defeat. Just to mention a few, the electoral defeat is alternatively blamed on the weather, specifically hurricane Sandy. Ironically this weather is the result of the same global warming about which Mit Romney made a big joke of at the RNC.

It is also blamed on character assassination of Mit Romeny and dishonest advertising on the part of the Democrats. That is to say, the Democrats have won by cheating. But it goes further than that: one of the Republican right wing icons Ann Culter has charged that the tipping point has now been reached and the “moochers” otherwise known as “ the takers” are more than 47% (as Mitt Romney thought): they are more like 52%. They include Latinos, ethnic minorities, Asians, Black African Americans, unmarried women, legal and illegal immigrants (somehow those vote illegally also and need to be prosecuted, a red herring if there ever was one, to suppress the vote). These undesirables just want socialist “stuff and entitlements” taken from the wealthy and enterprising, the so called “job creators) such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicade, Unemployment, food-stamps, free college tuition, free medical care, never mind that those entitlement are paid from deductions from one’s earnings and that most people pay some 35% ratings in taxes while millionaires like Romney pay only 14% at best by using loopholes and corporate “entitlements”  and welfare and off shore shelters in the Caiman Islands or Swiss Bank accounts. So the blame gets shifted from the flawed message to the flawed messenger. If we had a better, more conservative candidate, we would have won, so the arguments goes.

One of those who drew the proper conclusion to those premises was Donald Trump who, of course, also did not like the results of the election and suggested that a revolution is now needed to overthrow those “fraudulent” results. Another of the Congressional crazies, Allan West, of Florida, the one who believes that there are 80 card-carrying communists in Congress, has taken legal action by not accepting the results which declared his opponent the winner and has sued at the tune of millions of dollars that he collected during his campaign.

This must be quite astonishing to people observing from the outside. Here we have a democracy, which is one of the oldest in the modern world, whose adherents simply decide when to accept or when to reject the rules of democracy. The rules seem quite expandable depending on whether or not one likes the results. If the results do not conform to one’s ideology or mind-set then they can be impugned and challenged. One can see here the connection between what is going on in the EU, the rise of neo-Nazism and Neo-Fascism, and what is going on here in America. The circumstances are different of course, but the mind-set is the same; it is the Fascist mind-set that declares that might and intimidation and bullying makes right.

But there is even more, this mind-set has been elevated to the level of a theology on the part of the evangelical fundamentalists who have voted for Mitt Romney. To their credit, 75% of the Catholics, on the other hand, voted for Barack Obama. This is how it is rationalized, just as in the case of the Republican who said that a conception produced by rape is the will of God, there is a prominent evangelical pastor, by the name of Mark Morrow from Virginia, who is now going around saying that President Obama may be our duly elected president and we may have to pray for him exactly because he remains an evil man and those who voted for him are also evil and misguided.

The rationalization proceeds thus: many reasons for God’s will remain mysterious. God does not will evil, he merely allows it. Therefore the re-election of Obama remains a mystery of the will of God: he allowed it to happen but the ones responsible for it are the evil ones who vote for Obama. And of course, Obama remains an evil man. God forbid we should grant him and those who voted for him the benefit of the doubt and refrain from judging their intentions as evil. So, the conclusion is this: the voters meant it for evil, but God meant if for good. In fact the good that the reverent finds is that whenever the US has had “non-spiritual” presidents such as Obama (Kennedy being one of those), spirituality in the US has managed to revitalize itself spiritually. Since it is illegal in a democracy to repudiate election results, we need to grin and bear it for fours more years. God is testing our souls. But in four years we need to redouble our effort to throw the evil one out of office and elect of God-fearing, God-loving president; perhaps redouble our efforts at lying and deceiving by misleading ads, for after all our motives and our goals are worthy and winning is everything and the end justifies the less than worthy means. All of this is said up-front or clearly implied.

It the reader smells Puritanism here, well it should. The Puritan is always ready to burn the body of the witches to save their souls, as indeed happened in Salem, Massachusetts not so long ago. Closer to our times, this is not too dissimilar to the theocracy presently in power in Iran, where their leaders receive direct orders and imperatives from God every day. More often than not that political form of government ends in tyranny.

On the other hand, one may legitimately ask: if the Republicans had engaged in a more positive examination of what went wrong what would they now be focusing on? Here are some suggestions and one does not have to be a political scientist to discern them, all one has to do is observe attentively: in the first place the Republicans ought to stop the denial and examine the relevant reasons why they lost. One of the reasons was the ignoring of demographics: one thousand Latinos become voting citizens every day; so it makes little political sense to insult them all by declaring them as “illegals” and indeed Romney did. Some of them have been around in the South West before the Anglos arrived.

Another reason is that to run for high office one has to offer a vision and stand for something and not just be against somebody or something. Romney came off as an empty suit with no core values changing his positions every other day; the etcher-sketcher phenomenon. He wanted to be our CEO and do the interests of his business cronies. Another is that one ought not confuse socialism which can be democratic (as indeed it is with most Scandinavian nations) with Communism as indeed was done by the Republican party in an attempt to confuse the voting public. Another is that within a democracy compromise is not a dirty word, it is rather a necessary principle of the democratic process. Another is that global warming is a scientific reality not an invention of the liberals as Romney suggested at the RNC. Another is that 47% of the people do not consider themselves parasites and diversity is now the name of the game, not the racial supremacy of the white race (the great majority of white male adults voted for Romney) and 98% is comprised of people (and small businessmen) who do not have bank accounts in the Caiman Island and Switzerland. Another is that special interests coalitions for the rich and tycoons simply do not work any longer. If a coalition has to be formed it should be one comprising all the diverse people of the US respectful human dignity and human rights.

Let’s hope that eventually the more moderate and reasonable Republicans begin such a process of self-examination and soul searching and determine that it is not the messenger that needs replacement but the message which unfortunately remains misguided. Before that happens however they need to do two essential things: start respecting reality and the truth and stop the denial.

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Emanuel Paparella2012-11-14 17:11:21
A correction and a footnote: the figures for the Catholic vote are those in Ohio. The nation-wide Catholic vote was however in conformity with the general nation-wide voting results: the majority of Catholics, some 51% voted for Barack Obama. I am willing to wager that those results must have come as a great surprise to some Catholic bishops who went around declaring Paul Ryan “a good Catholic” despite his adherence to Ayn Rand’s philosophy of social Darwinism. But even there the majority of Catholic bishops took issue with Ryan's budget as being unfair to the poor and the underprivileged.

I don’t think it was a great surprise to the Catholic “nuns on the bus” who tried unsuccessfully to disabuse some bishops and Ryan and some of their fellow Catholics that social Darwinism has never been part of Catholic teaching which in fact considers justice as having precedence even over paternalistic humanitarian charity.

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