The First Step is Admitting the Problem

Hello. My name is Vorjack, and I … I’m a schadenfreude addict.

I guess like everybody else I didn’t think it could happen to me. I was on the other side back in 2004, so I remember what it’s like. Somehow, despite the polls, I convinced myself that Kerry was going to win.

When he lost, I was working in the same office with a fundamentalist. The bastard insisted on tuning the office radio to “Democracy Now!” It was about one quarter Amy Goodman and three quarters dead air as – I imagine – Amy was sucking gin straight from the bottle. She was reading a statement about the election with all the joy of a guest of honor at an auto-da-fé.

It sucked.

So here I am, watching the same breakdown happening amongst the GOP. I started off telling myself I’d stick to mainstream sources and avoid the celebrations on my normal leftie blogs. But even the lamestream media is bringing me stories about how completely gobsmacked Romney was by the loss: “In conversations on Wednesday, aides were generally wistful, not angry, at how the campaign ended. Most, like their boss, truly believed the campaign’s now almost comically inaccurate models, and that a victory was well within their grasp.”

It was so bad that his transistion webpage went up.

Oh, and this is even better. Remember how obsessive the left got about Karl Rove after 2000? Remember Bush’s Brain? Remember that line about the “reality-based community?” Woodward attributed it to an anonymous source that is widely believed to be Rove. Well, suddenly the “boy genius” who could reshape reality has just taken a shellacking:

A study by the Sunlight Foundation found that just 1.29 percent of the nearly $104 million [Rove's PAC] spent in the general election ended with the desired result. In addition to spending $85 million to defeat Mr. Obama and $6.5 million to support Mitt Romney, the group spent millions more opposing Democratic Senate candidates Bill Nelson in Florida, Jon Tester in Montana, Joe Donnelly in Indiana, Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin, and Tim Kaine in Virginia – all of whom won.

Rove was the bogeyman of the left until the 2006 “thumping.” Now he’s likely on the run from his billionaire donors. I swear, it’s like some tension that’s been there since the squeaker in 2000 is now gone.

And, yeah, suddenly I’m reading everything I can get on my tablet about the election fallout. My arm starts aching from doing all the fiddly little motions on the touch screen, but just one more article, please …

Oh, and I’m driving back home. It’s a three hour leg, I’m exhausted from the run-around I’ve been going through (remind me not to die, it just creates a lot of drama). I just want to get home. But I’m having to force myself not to shoot past my turn off.

See, there’s this guy just up the road from me. He’s covered the front of his lawn with tea party signs. I’ve been living here for a year and a half, and his lawn has ALWAYS been covered with tea party signs. And not the same signs, he rotates the constantly. Sometimes he covers a couple with black plastic so he can “unveil” them later. Most of them look hand-made; he must do nothing but make tea party signs all day.

I WANT to see what his yard looks like now. I’m exhausted, I’ve got shit to do, my back is getting stiff, but I still want to drive out of my way just to see that damn yard. If my wife hadn’t been with me, I’d have probably driven around the block six times just to gloat.

So, yeah, I got a problem. I need to move on, but I just keep wanting to look at one more picture of a crying Republican. It’s stupid, and I need to be realistic. It was a one time political victory that isn’t likely to change the shape of the country.

Well, maybe. Some people are saying that it might. I mean, it wasn’t just one victory really; a whole bunch of people important people won and whole bunch of horrible people lost.

How beautiful is that? And how beautiful is this: the gay rights movement went four for four. Three states have legalized gay marriage and Minnesota rejected rejected an anti-marriage amendment. After years of hearing opponents of marriage equality call for referendums because they’ve never lost the popular vote, we’ve now seen that blow up in their face.

Damn, there I go again. I need to be strong. I can beat this. Even one #Natesilverfact is too many. They’re just a gateway to pictures of White People Mourning Romney. Hey righties, maybe our Kenyan Nazi Socialist President will cover treatment for schadenfreude addiction under Obamacare!

Dear sweet FSM, I need help.

  • Kevin S.

    The thing is, in 2004 there was a serious methodological question about the absence of cell phones from all the major polls and the possibility that the cell-only population was significantly different from everybody else. It turned out not to be true, but there was a plausible reason to be concerned, backed by a real-world fact. This year, Republicans’ accused the major polls of being “skewed” against them based on nothing but their intuition and “common sense” about what the electorate was going to look like. Not only were they wrong, but there was never any plausible evidence that they might have been right.

  • http://www.laughinginpurgatory.com/ Andrew Hall

    I watched FOX News on Weds morning and listened to Rush (the bigot, not the band) so that I could take pleasure in the teeth gnashing and the tossing around of accusations.Good times.

  • machintelligence

    Schadenfreude is best served cold…

  • kessy_athena

    Well, I don’t know if it will reshape the country, but I think this election might just reshape the country’s politics a little. Now, I may be prejudiced, but it seems hard to me to see this election as anything but a pretty decisive rejection of extremism and radical ideology – in other words, the Tea Party crazies. The conventional wisdom seems to be that the GOP has to choose between moving to the center and becoming more and more marginalized. Although either outcome is acceptable to me, I really hope they choose to adapt rather then to die. (Isn’t evolution in action beautiful?) I think that a healthy two party system is essential for democracy – long term one party rule is a recipe for abuse.

    • UrsaMinor

      I agree that one-party rule is a bad thing, but I think you need not fear this outcome. If the Republican party marginalizes itself into irrelevance, another party will spring up to take its place, just as the Republicans stepped into the vacuum created by the collapse of the Whigs. The issue there was slavery; I imagine that abortion rights and same-sex marriage might drive a similar split among Republicans today as they scramble to recover from the 2012 election. In any case, the Democrats won’t be unchallenged. Somebody will step up to the plate. Who knows, the two-party model might break down entirely and we could end up with several viable, competing political parties by mid-century.

      • Colio

        I think we’re already starting to see that. Honestly, if the two party system was demolished in favor of a more diverse voting atmosphere, I wouldn’t be upset. To me, the left and right are just too far apart on things that matter and too close on things that don’t. When you appeal to that middle ground, like I felt the Libertarian party did this election, you will see more people scratching their head and wondering why we’re still voting for the same two parties. The issue that befalls us when we speak of a third party is the “too-afraid-to-vote-that-way” problem. You have several voters who love the third parties politics, ethics, and track record, but are afraid that if they vote for a third party they are throwing their vote away; when really, if you think about it like that- are you really voting to begin with? If you’re voting for someone you don’t particularly like, over someone you do like, because you’re afraid that it won’t matter- are you really contributing to the election process in a positive way? I don’t believe you are, you’re only perpetuating the ignorant politics that have come before. If every timid voter voted FOR someone instead of AGAINST someone else, I believe we would have already seen the introduction of third parties into the mainstream election politics. I doubt Republicans will go anywhere, as they tend to be stubborn :), thus no vacuum will be created- but I do believe with a little more education amongst voters, we could see Republicans forcibly pushed aside by a stronger, more middle-ground, party.

        • Yoav

          The problem is the winner take all way in which US election are conducted, unless your candidate can actually win a majority in individual states then he isn’t competitive and your vote is wasted, a switch to a nationwide popular vote in presidential elections may help there but it’s not going to be easy to get done. If I was the evil mastermind behind a third party my advice would be not even bother with any race above county level at this point but instead focus on getting people elected to local offices, build a voter base and just get people used to seeing candidate with anything other then D or R by their names as something normal, then you can start going for state legislatures and potentially house seats, once you get a few members into congress that can be the swing votes on issues the major parties will have to start paying some attention. It will be a long process and is much less sexy then running a presidential campaign but that’s the only way to brake the two party system.

          • UrsaMinor

            Winner-take-all is the problem. A ranked voting system would do away with the need for our current voting behavior. You could then confidently vote for the candidate that you really wanted, while knowing that you have a backup vote for the candidate that you don’t dislike quite as much as the third one. Very few voters that I know are willing to risk their votes on a third-party candidate that they like because historically, third parties have never won and you are throwing your vote away. So we end up voting for whoever we deem to be the lesser of two evils to make sure that the greater evil doesn’t get into office.

            We’re really locked in to a two-party system unless we change to ranked voting. Without it, scenarios that lead to more than two viable parties are few and far between, and very low probability.

            • Sunny Day

              The problem being that both parties would recognize it as the death knell for the current division of political power. Why would they get behind something that would only reduce the power they have?

            • Kodie

              They work for us?

            • kessy_athena

              Absolutely, Ursa, instant run off voting is something we really need. It also has the virtue of doing away with primaries, which are notoriously dominated by the extreme wings of the respective parties due to low turnout. The only reason the Tea Party has the amount of power it does is because Republicans are terrified of losing to a primary challenger.

              But I think that ultimately first past the post is simply a symptom of a larger problem – the party establishments have way, way too much power. From gerrymandering to election rules that put massive barriers to third party candidates to a campaign finance system that enforces party loyalty to rules in legislatures across the country that allow party leaders to severely punish dissenters in their own ranks, the parties have rigged the system to maximize their own power. We really need to start a voter revolution and say enough is enough.

          • FO

            This.

            Take back your country starting from local elected officials.
            It’s the only way citizens can have an actual impact and hope to change something.

      • DMG

        Another way to get a third party would be if the Republicans fracture – say splitting into a center-right fiscal conservative party and a far-right socially-conservative party.

        The new middleground, separated from the chaff of the nastier former Republicans, might stand a decent chance of attracting some presently Democratic legislators and voters, who are disillusioned with the left but scared of the far right. I don’t know if that would be enough to create three reasonably balanced parties (where any one may have enough clout to play kingmaker), but it would be a shorter route there than growing a third option from nothing.

        I know it’s naive optimism to hope for this, but it seems like the GOP is bad enough at compromise that they just might do it. ;)

  • vasaroti

    I wish I could join in the gloating, but we still have a Congress with many of the most ignorant reps still in place. The makeup of the Science Committee is not likely to improve, and GOP reps will continue to vote down or stall out necessary and practical legislation because they want to prove that government doesn’t work. They’ll continue to screw their constituents on behalf of corporate interests. They’ll continue to block appointments, and I’ll bet they’ll set a new record for how long they can prevent any new Supreme Court candidate from being approved. I don’t think this President wants to govern by executive order, but that’s what he’s forced to do.

    I really don’t understand the split-ticket voters. It’s like saying, “Hey, we like you personally better than Romney, but we don’t actually want to see you carry our any of your policy ideas.”

    • kessy_athena

      Very often the opposition party in a safe district either won’t put up a candidate at all or will run some whacky fuzzybunny that even their partisans won’t vote for. I remember some years ago the Democrat challenging my local state representative was a local used car dealer who wanted to get rid of mass transit. There are 535 seats in the US Congress, 7,384 seats in the state legislatures, 50 governors, and I don’t even want to guess how many assorted state and local elected offices. What it comes down to is that it’s hard to find that many people who are both competent to hold office, even remotely electable, and willing to run. So for a lot of split ticket voters, they don’t really have a whole lot of choice.

      • FO

        Citizens must take responsibility for the place they live.
        If things don’t go the way we want, it’s OUR fault.
        But’s just easier to blame someone else, or circumstances out of your control, and get rid of the responsibility.

        • kessy_athena

          Well, that’s certainly true, FO, and I didn’t mean to imply that citizens shouldn’t take responsibility. but the first step in doing something about it is understanding the practical situation, isn’t it?

  • Lurker111

    So post a pic of this guy’s front yard, already! ;)

    • Sunny Day

      Seconded!

  • Reginald Selkirk

    You list Paul Ryan as a loser for VP, but he won re-election to his seat in the House of Representatives. As did Michele Bachmann, Steve King and a large number of other crazies.

  • John C

    Very few truly escape the polarizing and temporal mindsets which politics make evident more than anything else…except for religion, of course.

  • The Vicar

    Two things occur to me:

    1. Actually, although Karl Rove lost it and went delusional about polls — and also was in charge of most of the spending from the GOP — you can’t entirely call him wrong. Although he was in control of the spending, he was NOT in control of the candidates or the policy any more, and the times when they ignored him he turned out to be right. (For example: the minute Akin started the whole cascade-o-rape-comments, Rove insisted that the GOP cut Akin loose. Go back and look at the polls, and you’ll see that before all these nitwits started talking about rape, Romney’s chances looked really good.) So don’t start singing “ding, dong, the witch is dead” just yet. Chances are pretty good that if the Tea Party idiots had allowed Rove to reign them in — not in actual fact, or choice of candidates, but in rhetoric — they would have won.

    2. The commenter above who said that another party would rise to fill the gap left by the Republicans? That new party already has arisen. We call it the “Democrats”. Look at Obama’s record now: he has been in favor of domestic spying, and counterproductive drone bombing (i.e. more enemies created by the bombing than we can possibly kill that way, to say nothing of killing 49 times as many innocents as targets which isn’t exactly a moral victory either), he tried to keep us in Iraq after Bush’s original deadline (but failed and then tried to claim it as a withdrawal), he’s been pushing our military into more and newer locations which even Bush didn’t touch, he protected the bankers and the Bush administration from any sort of prosecution for their various misdeeds, he let the “stimulus” be mostly tax breaks, he was willing to cut Social Security and Medicare in the “Grand Bargain” he offered last time around and will probably offer the same thing again, and his biggest “achievement”, the Affordable Care Act, was basically a bunch of easy-to-pass-individually small reforms tied to a huge, unnecessary gift to the insurance industry which is causing the problems in the first place. Don’t kid youself — Obama is a right-winger, just one who isn’t a religious right-winger. So are Reid and Pelosi. They use the social issues as wedges to get Democrats to support bad foreign and economic policy. What we really NEED is a party to replace what the Democrats used to be, but since Democratic partisans seem to believe they are actually somehow supporting the left by voting for Obama and his ilk, it’s not going to happen.

    • kessy_athena

      Oh, honestly, what, are you going to start DINO hunting like the Tea Party purists have been doing over on the other side of the aisle? Rigid ideology of *any* stripe is equally destructive. Like Reagan said, someone who agrees with you 80% of the time is a friend and an ally, not a 20% traitor. There’s this little thing called reality that you have to deal with if you want to actually govern. I’d have preferred to see a government run single payer healthcare system, but the fact is that most Americans don’t want that. And in a democracy, no one group gets to impose what they want on everyone else. Drone strikes may be problematic, but what do you want to do? Ignore al-Qaeda types until they fly an airplane into a building? Or invade a dozen different countries to get them? Very often in these situations you have to choose the least bad option, because there isn’t really a good option. Social Security and Medicare are headed for bankruptcy on their current course. Major reforms are going to *have* to be made, and that will mean cuts in some form.

      You may think that you just need a strong enough leader to beat Reality into being the way you want it to be, but sadly the Universe just doesn’t give a damn how much you want it to change. People who have taken that road have always failed, and usually made things much worse. A certain Maximilien de Robespierre comes to mind, for example. The world is the way it is, and if you want to actually accomplish anything you have to wake up and deal with it.

      • The Vicar

        Oh, goody! False equivalences thrown out one after another in defense of party loyalty. You must be a Democratic partisan; nobody who isn’t would play so fast and loose with the truth!

        1. Who wants to look for DINOs? I want people to start leaving the Democrats entirely; they no longer represent most of us — they’ve left behind the unions, blacks are doing worse under Obama than they were when he took office, they’re constantly protecting and benefitting the rich… why bother with ‘em any more?

        2. It is not true that insisting on absolute agreement is “always” harmful. What’s going to happen if everyone doesn’t act on global warming, hmmmm? Either we insist on everyone buckling down on that issue or else we might as well do nothing at all. (And, incidentally, Obama isn’t much better than Romney on that issue; the Democrats were perfectly willing to deliberately exclude any mention of it from the debates.)

        3. A majority of Americans were in favor of a public option, at the very least, and a plurality were in favor of single payer as compared with other possibilities. (So you’re just lying… twice in a row.) Obama was the one who killed both of them off.

        4. Drone bombings aren’t preventing terrorism; they’re creating more terrorists than they kill. Some of our military members have been saying this for years (although they’ve been ignored), there was just a great big study documenting it on the civilian side, and quite frankly trying to claim otherwise is divorced from common sense. (Seriously, if China — for example — started a bombing campaign in the U.S. that was killing 49 innocent people for every one which was actually a target, and their media was reporting that everyone killed was “an insurgent”, we’d be going ape shit. There would be mobs outside the White House demanding an instant nuclear war. Why people somehow think that other nations would react otherwise is beyond me.) So saying “oh, but we have to have drone bombings or else the terrorists will have complete freedom” is just a lie, and a stupid one at that. Obama has been continuing them and expanding them, which is actively making the problem worse.

        5. Social Security and Medicare will go bankrupt in something like 40 years if we take no action whatsoever. There have been several suggestions which would make them entirely self-sufficient without cutting benefits at all, such as simply removing the upper limit on how much income is liable to deductions. (Right now, any income above something like $100000 per year does not have anything deducted, so the people who are rich enough to pay for the problem are explicitly not being made to do anything about it.) Obama has not even mentioned solving the actual problem, he has only contemplated cutting the programs.

        6. Frankly, if we don’t do SOMETHING to either kick the Democrats way over to the left or find someone to replace them, we are screwed. We have reached the point where the problems festering since the right wing started them rolling in the 1970s and 1980s are becoming painfully urgent, and global warming is already starting to skew critical things like crop yields so it won’t be long before “compromise” on the environment will be directly equivalent to “genocide”. Very shortly the whole “we must accept incremental improvements because otherwise we’re being tyrannical” argument is foolish and dangerous; we are in a state of emergency but we haven’t realized it yet — we’re running around panicking like chickens with their heads cut off because of terrorism (which isn’t even in the top 10 causes of death for 2001, its big year) but problems which threaten to do in our civilization we’re basically ignoring, and it’s the people like you who let it go on, by defending the right-wing Democrats from any criticism lest they actually have to face any sort of challenge in the polls.

        • kessy_athena

          Well, I suppose I should thank you – you’ve provided me with evidence that I’m right when I say that adjusting the facts to suit your ideology is not an exclusively conservative failing.

          For the record, I dislike political parties in general, I am not a Democratic partisan, and I don’t have a particularly high opinion of the Democratic Party. In fact, what upset me most about the rise of the Tea Party is that I feel it’s left me with no choice but to vote for a straight Democratic ticket and I can’t vote for Republicans or Libertarians as I have in the past.

          1. Get a grip and deal with reality. The American people have deserted the unions, not the Democratic Party. And some of the unions’ own actions have contributed to this sad state of affairs. Almost everyone is doing worse now then the were in Feb 2009 – it’s called the Great Recession for a reason. The rich have always and will always have a lot of influence. This will always be true so long as humans are hierarchical social animals and there’s any sort of group with high social status. That’s just how we are. If you think the rich would have anything like the same degree of influence under Democrats as under Republicans you just haven’t been paying attention.

          2. So you’ve had the absolute truth of climate change revealed to you, along with the one true path to averting the certain doom of the unrighteous, huh? And there’s absolutely no possibility that you might be in any way wrong about this? And your absolute certainty entitles you to impose your views on others by force?

          As serious an issue as climate change is, if we want to continue to live in a pluralistic, democratic society we have to accept that the *only* ethically acceptable way to change people’s behavior is with persuasion, not force.

          3. Sorry, but you’re just plain wrong. A 2011 Rasmussen poll found that Americans oppose a single payer system 49% – 35%. Politifact rated Micheal Moore’s claim that the majority support a single payer system as outright false. A 2009 Kaiser tracking poll found that of 7 options for expanding health care coverage, a single payer system had by far the least support, with a public option coming in second from the bottom.
          http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/current_events/healthcare/october_2011/49_oppose_single_payer_health_care_system
          http://www.kff.org/kaiserpolls/upload/7990.pdf
          http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2009/oct/01/michael-moore/michael-moore-claims-majority-favor-single-payer-h/
          And why in the world would Obama sabotage the public option after introducing the idea and fighting for it? That doesn’t even make sense on its own terms. It was conservative Democrats in the Senate who were responsible for killing it.

          4. Pretty much any sort of foreign policy is a complicated and tricky subject. I am concerned about the potential consequences of drone strikes, but as far as I can tell, Obama seems to have been reasonably judicious in his use of them. While you are correct that certain people drastically exaggerate the threat posed by terrorism, that doesn’t mean it’s something that we can or should simply ignore. While it would be nice if we could resolve all the world’s conflicts by putting flowers in gun barrels, sadly that’s not the world we live in. And if you want to start throwing around statistics, provide some documentation.

          5. Under current law, Social Security is estimated to exhaust its trust fund in 2033, Medicare in 2024.
          http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/TRSUM/index.html
          And while it might be technically possible to fix the situation only by raising taxes, we have this little thing in this country called democracy, where no one ever gets everything they want.

          6. States of emergency have been a favorite tool of authoritarian regimes since time immemorial. Go read up on Europe in the 1930′s. Hell, go watch Star Wars. This is how democracy dies. And believing that you are Right and everyone else is Wrong is the first big step on a road that leads to a very dark and terrible place.

          • smrnda

            On drone attacks, it’s a nice academic question for us to ponder, but it isn’t us getting blown up day in and day out by them. If a cop shot you or someone you knew because you happened to live in an area where they *thought* a dangerous killer was hiding out, I’m thinking you’d be pretty outraged and wouldn’t just be willing to shrug it off with ‘well, fighting crime is a tricky problem.’

  • Kodie

    http://disappearingromney.com/
    Real-time facebook unliking Mitt Romney graph.

    • blessed Jim

      Wow! At that rate Romey’s support will evaporate in… 3 years. ;-)
      Beware of bad graphing.

  • Paul

    Every election ends with one party happy and the other trying to figure out what they did wrong. Usually a lot of it comes down to folks who only listen to their own party and friends who share their beliefs. Republicans were in pretty deep denial this time and like lemmings they followed one another over the cliff, sure in their hearts that this was the path to victory. One thing both sides seem to overlook is that its the folks in the middle in those terribly small number of swing states that both candidates have to seduce.

    Republicans keep swearing that the people are almost unanimously against Universal Health Care because they and their friends have insurance and don’t want to help others who can’t get insurace like me have an opportunity to have access to health care. Herman Cain during his 5 minutes as front runner said that those of us without insurance just have to go to the ER and we will be treated free of charge. Yes, they will take care of an emergency, like when I punctured an artery or for my second heart attack. But that is only emergency care. I now have chronic health problems that require constant agressive health care for my heart, diabetes, arthritis. I also have some chronic psychiatric problems and fortunately there is a public program that provides that to me at little or no cost for both meds and therapy. We are the people who needed to defeat Romney. I feel my votes are mostly a wasted effort since I am in a very red state and other than a small token number of representatives, everyone Georgia sends to DC has an R after their name. On the left we have made some of the same mistakes and like the Republicans now and 08 we lost control.

    I’m not that fond of political parties in general because of the tendency of the leadership to push members into supporting legislation that they may not support. The fact that once the parties have selected their candidates that a very small number of key districts in the so called swing states are the ones who select our president. A national popular vote is so overdue. But the parties don’t like it. I was amazed that the Democrats did not demand it after the debacle in 2000 but the party leaders knew that even though they lost that round that overall it was to their benefit to keep the electoral college. There never would have been a President W with a popular vote.

    Well, at least we have two years before the mid term poo flinging contest begins.

  • smrnda

    My hope for the US is that other nations, like the EU, decide to put massive pressure on us to change. Too many people, not just politicians, actually believe in nonsense here. People reject government solutions to health care despite lots of examples of it working fine elsewhere, taxing the rich is out of the question, and we have people demanding that social policy be based on bronze age religious texts, and that science should be rejected in favor of superstition. Perhaps if the rest of the civilized world started treating us as some kind of pariah it might help.

    • UrsaMinor

      I can’t see international disdain for the barbarians having much of an effect on us, because so many Americans believe that America is #1 in all things, and intrinsically superior to the rest of the world. The national ego will not cave easily to that kind of pressure. About the only thing that could be done to get us to modify our behavior is to hit us economically, and hit us hard.

      • Norm

        I hear the term,”standing on the edge of the fiscal cliff”,quite often now in reference to America so that change may come sooner rather than later.I hear theIMF is currently assessing country’s true financial positions and assesses Americas true debt to be $103 trillion not the $15trillion declared by the government.If its true its going to be a hard landing.One world government here we come.


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