By ALLAN POWELL
November 30, 2012
Perhaps in no election since that of 1932 has there been so much anxiety over the possible outcome of an election. Then, as now, there were huge social issues at stake with parallels between a Roosevelt-Hoover contest and an Obama-Romney encounter. In both elections, there was a clear choice between a flawed candidate, a flawed party and a flawed program, and a progressive agenda with a vision of hope for better times.
Several events just before and after the election will disclose why there was so much angst on the part of progressives and why they feared the success of Mitt Romney. The first event was the release of the video clip showing Romney giving a speech to an audience of wealthy donors. With passion and clarity, he announced that he had given up hope for any support from 47 percent of the electorate who were takers — little above the rank of leeches. When trapped by this unexpected release, he said this was a mere verbal slip and claimed to be interested in the well-being of 100 percent of the electorate. His plea was most unconvincing. His true interests and real character were evident.
The second event, only a few days before the election, was the release of a photograph of former President George W. Bush announcing that he would be a main speaker at a super-secret investment conference in the Cayman Islands. Journalists were barred from attendance and attendees were sworn to avoid any talk outside the walls. Here, a former Republican president was linked with an aspiring president to the secrecy of off-shore banking. Romney could just as easily been the person to utter these famous lines of George Bush: “We are the haves and the have mores” and “you are my base.” This insatiable lust for more money shows the character of both.
The third event took place immediately after his defeat when Romney volunteered some explanation for his defeat. One such reason was the influence of gifts given by President Obama to different interest groups in order to win their votes. As Romney expressed it, “The Obama campaign was following the old playbook of giving a lot of stuff to groups that they hoped they could get to vote for them and be motivated to go out to the polls, specifically the African-American community, the Hispanic community and young people”.
We do not need to recite the list of “gifts” that Obama offered to entice voters, but “Obamacare” was at the top of the list. What is strange about this insult was the obvious fact that Romney’s life has been largely the story of gift giving or receiving. He didn’t know a corporation (be it bank, oil or gas) that he would not support with a subsidy or tax cut in order to get their support. He personally added to his private wealth by a wonderful tax gift of only paying an average of 15 percent while hard-working, middle-class laborers paid more than double that amount. He really loved gifts.
Those who opposed Romney’s attempt to reach the White House have been characterized as biased bigots or worse. Supporters aver that he has an “impeccable moral character” and is “a decent person and family man.” Those who opposed Romney’s campaign are equally sure that he was an elitist bent on serving the needs of other elitists and that we would have another age of greed if he were elected.
Another event that carries a huge symbolic message is the sudden outburst of malcontents in several Southern states who are seriously agitating for secession. This radical action is laughable on the one hand and serious on the other. There must be something in the drinking water that would motivate people to forget the awesome consequences of revisiting such a hideous solution to our differences. No responsible person could recommend such a tasteless mix of states’ rights, libertarianism and antiquated political thought.
This post-election rancor will decline when there is a realization that this president has a mandate inherent in the office of a president to lead even if the Republican Party is left behind. Approaching 20 Republican governors tried hard to stifle the democratic voting process by obstructing the ability to vote. This party supports candidates who are anti-science and show a huge ignorance of female biology. It took a destructive storm to remind this party of the proper role of government when a natural catastrophe strikes. In a nutshell, there is no need for rancor — there is a profound need for reason.
• Allan Powell is a professor emeritus of philosophy at Hagerstown Community College.
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