Some Postmortem Notes



Instead, we get Barack Obama


It’s been a lousy year.


The sudden death of my brother, my only sibling and the only other member of my little southern California family; my expulsion from the Maxwell Institute, to which I’d given a large portion of my time and effort over roughly a quarter of a century (time and effort that are now not only irretrievable, of course, but, or so it seems to me and to many others — some of them almost deliriously gleeful over it —  have been massively devalued); and, finally (?), last night’s election.  I can’t wait for 2012 to end.  I can only hope that 2013 will be at least marginally better.


It’s not just that Mitt Romney lost.  (As did Mia Love, which surprises me a lot.)  It’s that Barack Obama won.  He is the most left-wing president in American history, and he’s now free to continue his statist economic policies, his feckless foreign policy, his interference with religious liberty, and his war on our traditional culture without any fear of further electoral accountability.  (A somewhat revised and expanded version of my initial thoughts about last night’s election now appears at Meridian Magazine.)


But it’s not just Barack Obama’s victory, either.  It’s what that victory says about America and its citizens:


I have to admit that I share Jay Nordlinger’s sense of alienation.  I agree with Michael Barone’s idea of “two Americas,” and, like him, I fear that the massive centralization of unprecedented power in a single overweening national government — which is likely to accelerate during Mr. Obama’s second term — has made the division between the two into a very high-stakes game.  (When the thought has occurred to me, for instance, that American voters chose this man again, and that they therefore fully deserve what they’re going to get, I’m immediately sobered by the realization that their profligate spending — to choose just a single example of many — is saddling me, and my children, and my eventual grandchildren with an enormous debt that we most definitely do not deserve.)


I’m disheartened because Obama’s stone-walling on the Benghazi catastrophe worked, and because the mainstream media, shamelessly and massively complicit, helped him with it.  It’s unthinkable that they would have done so for President Bush, or for a President Romney.  And, unfortunately, it’s unthinkable that such left-leaning bias in the media will be corrected in the foreseeable future.


I’m discouraged because Mr. Obama’s rhetoric about a mythical “war on women” worked.  We had the spectacle of pro-Obama ads in which young girls begged their mothers to vote to retain the essentially unrestricted right to have ensured that they were never born.  (As if Mitt Romney was planning to prohibit all abortions, or even could have done so if he wanted.)  For the first time, single women (who tend to vote leftward) outnumber married women (who tend to be more conservative) in America.  Lena Dunham’s suggestive ad for Obama evidently expresses the political thinking, if it can be called that, of far more Americans than I would have thought possible.  Sandra Fluke, the not-so-very-young-anymore Georgetown law student who demands that Catholics pick up the tab for her quite non-Catholic sex life, was, for that reason, transformed into a poster child for the Obama campaign.  She even addressed the Democratic National Convention.  And, to my appalled astonishment, that infantilizing strategy seems to have succeeded.


Barack Obama’s life of the hypothetical “Julia,” an utterly dependent ward of the State (and, very specifically, of Big Brother Barack) pretty much from cradle to grave, apparently captures the vision for their lives and for their country of most of my fellow Americans.  I find that inexpressibly depressing.


That said, there may be a slight glimmer of hope.  The economy is likely to improve during Mr. Obama’s second term.  He will do his best to prevent that, of course, but economic history is cyclical and markets do tend to rise again, even in the face of government mismanagement and despite incompetent hack politicians.  On the whole, though, I expect our country to be weaker and poorer — culturally, militarily, and in terms of personal freedom, personal responsibility, and international influence — in four years than it is today.  That may, conceivably, bother at least a few of the Julias and the Sandra Flukes and the Lena Dunhams out there.  Maybe “cool” won’t be enough anymore.  And perhaps it will worry some of the still culturally rather conservative Hispanics who make up an ever larger voting bloc in our nation and who went overwhelmingly for Barack Obama in this election.  I don’t think (and this is putting it mildly) that Governor Romney and the Republicans did very well in appealing to Hispanics.  So I agree with George Will that, in a very real sense, the big Republican winner last night was Marco Rubio.  The young Cuban-American senator from Florida might, in four years, be able to create a bigger tent for Republicans — without which they simply cannot win.  (He would have been my choice as Mitt Romney’s running mate this year.)  Can any Republican or conservative, though,  overcome the built-in electoral advantages that liberal Democrats enjoy with a citizenry ever more dependent upon, and greedy for, government largesse?  I honestly don’t know.



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  • Todd McLauchlin

    I couldnt agree more.

  • Kiwi57

    Dan, you mentioned Marco Rubio as your preferred Romney running mate. From afar, Condoleeza Rice seemed the best pick to me. Not 0nly could she have appealed to women and minority groups, her sterling foreign policy credentials would have made up for Mitt’s weakness in that area.

    • danpeterson

      I really quite like her, too. She might have helped with the black vote, with the women’s vote, and with foreign policy. The one lethal factor was that she is, I understand, “pro-choice” on abortion.

  • Jason Burt

    Well said, Dan. I can’t seem to shake the gloomy feeling today. I live in Washington and I can now legally smoke pot at a gay wedding if I so choose. That’s what we are doing with our freedom now.

    I’m off to eat my lunch by the water’s edge. The beauty of it all always cheers me up.

    • danpeterson

      Have a great day (despite the odds against it). But stay away from the pot at your next gay wedding. Somebody needs to drive the guests home.

  • Lucy Mcgee

    Dr. Peterson, I wonder how many of your students read this blog? What a way to inspire and lead our young people. It’s amazing and actually really sad how negative people have become. Perhaps what is needed is a quick mental trip back into the history of the Church. Had Joseph Smith spent time whining, nothing whatever would have been accomplished. Leadership requires courage and a positive mental attitude in the face of “seemingly” troubling times.

    • danpeterson

      I take it that you’re criticizing me.

      That’s fine. Even though I disagree with your implied criticism.

      I have no idea how many of my students read this blog, if any. I don’t believe that I’ve mentioned it to any of them.

      I don’t think it should be kept a secret from them, though, that their professors are actual people who have opinions. Do you?

      Your apparent notion that people should always be happy and positive strikes me as both unrealistic and false. I’m pleased, in any event, that the Doctrine and Covenants includes Section 121, and I don’t think that the Book of Mormon is interchangeable with Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking.

  • Brenda Chung

    I was so discouraged by the events of last night (incredulous at the values a majority of Americans seem to hold), when I read your previous entry. Thank you for helping me see the more important perspective- the election didn’t change the plan of salvation and what really maters a bit :) And thank you for the above references, which remind me that there are still many, many people who don’t believe in the kind of world our president evidently wants. So, now what?

  • joe etheridge

    hard to comprehend. just from the economic side of the ledger, the election should have been a landslide to anyone running against the incumbent. and in years past would have been.

    then, couple with the election results the state referendums that passed across the nation that others have mentioned above? seems to me the country has entered into a new era of voting dynamics? the talking heads & pundits can talk all they want about “minority” voting blocs of 13% & 10% ……but the voting bloc that represents over 70% of the votes tabulated in the country is the deciding factor of who wins and loses countrywide. thus, the proposed widespread shift i suggest is in the 70% bloc.

    if you turn & look at the 2010 midterm elections vs. Tue’s election results, one might have a hard time seeing a trend……or believing the two elections where held in the same country for that matter? the national elections have been trending to a more left of center position since 2000, some might argue earlier but throw out Perot in ’92 and the Clinton era would have never been. this progressing left of center position is combined of many non-traditional voter’s values, one that more mirrors a European voters values, IMO?

    viewing the progress of the European model from a distance makes this tax paying American most concerned………joe

  • Gerald Smith

    Dan, cheer up. This is all part of God’s plan. First, the economy tanks, and the nation collapses. Then we have the opportunity to build Zion. Your malevolent stalker will dwell among the mobs that kill one another. The liberals who love social justice more than God will join them. As D&C 45 tells us, those among the wicked who will not fight with the sword, “must needs flee to Zion for safety.”
    In Matthew 23, Jesus condemns the activists for social justice of his day. While they won the battle, Christ won the war. These are temporary victories they are having. In the end, God’s “social justice” will prevail.

    I love America, but would gladly replace it (as it is now), with Zion. Perhaps we are nearing that awesome prospect.

  • John Ziebarth

    As bad as this year was, take comfort that you don’t live in CA where the voters created a 2/3 majority of democrats that are now unrestrained by law so they may now vote in any tax and tax raise they want. And this in a state with the lowest expenditure on schools and the highest tax rate and $50 billion in debt. What do they do with all that money?

    • danpeterson

      I’m so very, very sad for my home state. What a mess they’ve made of it.