By Bob Cesca: So this is it. In several hours we’ll know whether millions of Americans will receive affordable, portable, and, in some cases, non-profit healthcare. We’ll know whether women will retain their basic human rights and personal dignity. We’ll know whether American voters have re-elected the president or elevated a man who represents and indeed boasts everything that caused the Great Recession.
Certainly there have been other elections this pivotal. 1860, 1932, 2000 and 2008 are definitely on this list. But in our lifetimes, I don’t recall another election when the stakes were higher — when the lives of millions might not only be enhanced but, in fact, saved if the incumbent president is re-elected. And, remarkably enough, we’re talking about laws that are already on the books and a Republican challenger who, as part of his agenda, has vowed to repeal those laws as his primary goal.
But there’s not much else I can write at this point to convince anyone to vote for the president. So then what have we learned?
We’ve faced a Republican Party that’s reduced campaigning to new depths of deception and cynicism. Part of the blame goes to a shape-shifting T-1000 model CEO candidate whose entire business and political record verifies his utter lack of political conviction. Sure, he might be a decent family man, but CEOs are capable of expertly divorcing their personal conscience from their business practices and Romney sure as hell knows how to feed his family: by bankrupting other families.
But beyond the candidate, the Republicans have further embossed their non-reality based Opposite Day strategy with the help of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and dark money groups that are unaccountable to voters and operate totally under the table where they can spend limitless sums of money in pursuit of infecting the discourse with lies. In the face of overwhelming objective evidence, the Republicans think there are votes in denying that evidence.
Do the list. The president doubled the deficit even though he cut it by $300 billion. Obamacare is government-run healthcare even though it’s almost entirely composed of private insurance carriers. It’s snowing in New York and that proves global warming is a myth. The Democrats gutted Medicare and welfare reform even though they strengthened both. The Democrats are the real racists. You know the lies. And they have a receptive audience because they’ve terrified half of all voters using Southern Strategy dog-whistles and horror stories about brown people, reducing too many voters into fearful, racist, pee-pants children who think Mexicans will behead them, godless gay people will destroy their joyless, sexless marriages, black people will steal their paychecks and Muslims will crash planes into their houses unless they allow Republicans to cut taxes for rich people. Or else.
The Republican Party has ceased to be an organization dedicated to core conservative values and has, instead, dedicated itself to the opposite values of whatever the Democrats say irrespective of whether it makes the Republicans appear totally ridiculous, self-satirical or contradictory.
It’s a trend that’s been developing since 1964 and the birth of the modern conservative movement but it’s only been truly perfected this year.
Worse, they’ve managed to hector the for-profit news media into capitulating to their fictioneering — offering it equal billing alongside actual science, empirical data and historical facts. Consequently, the press refused to probe the party’s ongoing voter disenfranchisement, suppression and intimidation effort, and it allowed Romney to make it to Election Day without releasing his full slate of tax returns. If anyone should’ve been forced to disclose his financial history, it’s Romney whose wealth was accumulated through similarly elusive and labyrinthine techniques — carefully slithering through the tiniest legal loopholes — not unlike the Wall Street bankers who nearly destroyed the economy. In spite of the party’s laughable denial of the climate crisis, their crusade for government-mandated transvaginal ultrasounds, their death panels, their Southern Strategy racism, their attempts to deconstruct the word “rape,” their astroturf protests, their staged non-rally rally food drives, their Jim Crow laws and their economic sabotage, the press still regards them as a very serious party deserving of respect and deference.
And so an entirely awkward and maladroit presidential candidate, Romney, was miraculously able to surge ahead in the polls after 90 minutes of solid talking on television even though he spent the previous 18 months bungling and lying about everything — a total of 20-30 lies per week per Steve Benen’s toteboard. Why? Chiefly because the press allowed him to do it. If he wins today, they will surely follow suit throughout the next four to eight years.
Yes, the Republican Party’s crap-on-a-stick cynicism will certainly live on, win or lose. But if things turn out the way I expect, reasonable, rational, sane voters will have denied the Republicans the ultimate trophy they’ve desired for the last four years — the presidential validation of their contra-reality strategy.
We’ll know for sure tonight.