Mark Steyn’s superb column on the economic implications of Tuesday’s election gives voice to the image of the American electorate’s recent behavior shown above. (The only inaccuracy in the image of Wile E. Coyote going off the cliff holding a pro-Obama placard is that it fails to show me, my family, and our posterity tied, very much against our wills, to the Coyote’s back.)
Mitt Romney’s defeat on Tuesday wasn’t just the defeat of a particular candidate. It was the rejection of the values he represented — values that, I believe, were once widely shared, even typically American. And that’s what really bothers me. A majority of Americans in 2012 chose compulsory redistribution of wealth by the State over freedom and responsibility. They plainly weren’t bothered by sixteen trillion dollars in federal debt, by record unemployment, by incompetent government meddling in the economy, by the looming menace of Obamacare. Large majorities of Hispanics and blacks chose Barack Obama and Joe Biden despite enormous levels of unemployment in the black and Hispanic communities. And women went for Laughin’ Joe and Mr. Obama despite record unemployment among women — apparently because (these themes were prominent in ads carefully targeted to strategic swing counties and carefully withheld from the nation as a whole) they feared that Mr. Romney, though he wasn’t even talking about the subject, might impose some sort of limitation on their right to kill their babies and because of Mr. Obama’s promise to compel devout practicing Catholics to finance their sex lives.
And yet the results of Tuesday’s presidential election, when broken down by county, are fascinating. Essentially, those in the red counties — dismissed by some of the celebrating Obamaphiliacs I’ve been reading over the past few days as “flyover country,” a cultural wasteland of rubes and semiliterates, and as “bubbleworld,” because people living in them are supposedly unaware of the larger (!) world around them –will be paying for the voracious appetites of those in the blue counties. (And there are specific catastrophes plainly visible on the horizon: A good friend of mine, for instance, a Utah state senator, is morosely certain that, when California’s continuing orgy of overspending and business-destroying overregulation inevitably leads it to third-world-style bankruptcy, citizens of more frugal and responsible states — such as my own adopted Utah — will be expected to cover the Once-Golden State’s irresponsible debts.)
I’ve been feeling quite nostalgic of late. Last night, for example, I spent a couple of hours listening to my old flame, Joan Baez. “El Preso Número Nueve” is still a great song, and it’s just one of many. But, today, I’ve been thinking about Ayn Rand. (Baez and Rand? “I contain multitudes,” said Walt Whitman.)
When I was a teenager, I read a lot of Ayn Rand. I was particularly smitten with her libertarian treatises and with her novel The Fountainhead. But I haven’t read her much since. I never did buy her moral theory, I found her militant atheism deeply off-putting, and, over the years, as I learned more about her as a person, I came very much to dislike her. However, I’m thinking, with the election and the map above in mind, of re-reading Atlas Shrugged. It seems uncannily relevant right now.