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.