Barack Obama has been re-elected after one of the tightest Presidential polls in recent decades. More importantly, the highest, most devastatingly powerful office in the land has been defended from a blank, asset-stripping plutocrat who dismisses 47% of the American population as feckless welfare-scroungers.
The 44th President of the United States has essentially governed like an old-school moderate Republican. His agenda might’ve been blasphemous to the foaming loons of the American Right, but, in reality, Obamacare is watery, limited and corporate-friendly, his tax rises have just corrected the libertarian madness of the Bush years, and he’s continued to bunker-bust, extraordinarily render and predator drone like the best of them.
And yet, for millions on both sides of the pond, this was an election all about keeping out Mitt Romney. When old-school moderate Republicanism has all but dried up, and America remains the glowering capital of neoliberal dystopias, Obama is not only infinitely preferable to the rabid Tea Partying alternative, but, short of reanimating Mother Jones and convincing her to run for office, the least-worst Commander In Chief the US is likely to produce in decades.
About a year ago, the Bemolution reluctantly began posting about the race for the White House. The weird ideological mulch this blog regurgitates on a week-by-week basis is hard to label, but there’s no doubt that it’s left-wing – horribly, air-strike-ably left-wing by American standards. At the same time, it tries to be pragmatic. Thus, it concluded, the best result for the planet and everyone on it was four more years of Obama. And Obama’s chances of winning depended on whichever hidebound Ayn Rand-fetishist the Republicans chose to run against him.
For this reason, the Republican Primaries – to the uninitiated, the pain-staking state-by-state process used by political parties to choose their Presidential candidates – seemed like the most crucial bit of the race. If the Republicans Party was swayed by its sizeable lunatic wing and plumped for a libertarian fanatic like Ron Paul, they’d shed moderate votes like Billio and the Democrats would easily romp to victory. If they did the sensible thing and chose someone better able to win over liberal-minded swing voters, the race would be much closer.
As it happened, they went for the latter. Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachussets, has flip-flopped around the spectrum throughout the course of a Machiavellian political career, but was generally seen to be less hard-line and palatable to moderates than the array of fruit-cakes that stood against him. He was also fabulously wealthy, which always helps in the Land of the Free.
Still, more liberal-friendly or not, it wasn’t plain sailing for Governor Romney. Even after he’d built up an unassailable lead among party delegates, his tenacious challengers for his party’s Presidential nomination just wouldn’t go down. Ron Paul, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich clung on to end, sapping the Romney camp’s time, energy and resources. Meanwhile, the Democrats obviously re-selected Obama by default, and could sit back and look unified while their opponents ripped each other to pieces.
Obama was in the lead for most of the campaign proper – his advantage only started to slip in the closing couple of months, caused by, among other things, a lacklustre showing in a televised debate. The news media went wild for the closest contest in years. Then the week of the election, Hurricane Sally arrived and bombarded the West Coast, Governor Romney abruptly vanished from the evening bulletins, and, in his place, came rolling pictures of Obama looking compassionate and impeccably Presidential as he comforted storm victims who’d lost everything. Thank your lucky stars/deity of choice for the distractibility of the TV news
In the end, the result wasn’t as harrowingly close as many pundits tried to make out – yet more evidence of the press trying to justify its own existence by pretending there’s more to talk about than there actually is. Obsessive opinion polling is a voodoo the Bemolution doesn’t like or particularly understand, but all the key swing states save Ohio were consistently showing – admittedly very narrow – leans toward Obama in the final week of campaigning.
In any case, civilisation was spared again. Just.