Liberals have a rare opportunity today to do something they signally started in the landslide election of 2008: finish the job. Bill Clinton’s victory was vitiated by the inclusion of Dick Morris and quickly revenged by Kenneth Starr, leading to his replacement in 2000 by George W. Bush, a man who exactly nobody thought was qualified to be president of the United States, probably including Bush himself.
In retrospect, of course, George W. Bush was Pericles of Athens compared to Mitt Romney, who far more than Bush has revealed the true face of contemporary American right-conservatism in all its coercive ugliness: a blizzard of shifting policies; the deployment of ignoramuses to spread disinformation and discontent on cable airwaves; and the naked Randian appeals to race and class hatred. The most anti-American of American presidential candidates has run the most un-American of campaigns.
And that, by rights, should be it. Romney’s campaign has been so ugly, so founded on lies and nothingness, that nobody should want to vote for the man. But somehow, it’s a close race. From Day One of the Romney campaign, real conservatives pretended there was an explicit threat from Obama’s “fundamental change.” They imbue whole conspiracies into Obama’s offhand “voting is the best revenge” remark, when for the Right, “revenge” is precisely what this election is all about. For them and their constituents, it’s payback time: payback for the thought that taxes should be fairer; payback for the death of Osama bin Laden; payback for the policies of FDR; payback for America’s changing demographics. They’ve long used the civil-rights movement — which after all was directed precisely against bigots– and the Vietnam-era “pro-war” movement — which arose in opposition to the foreign policy of the Democrats led by George McGovern— as wedges with which to crack the larger social structure and now, so close to realizing the ultimate expression of their “critical theory” — that everything about un-wealthy America stinks — they and their media allies are doing their best to swing an last election for Romney.
Barack Obama is an imperfect standard bearer—there really can be no such thing as an perfect standard bearer—but today we are proud to vote for him. Morons who have no credentials have predicted either a Romney or Obama victory. Some idiots have even predicted a Republican retake of the Senate, despite the breathtaking tactical stupidity of Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, both of whom needlessly stated the Republican platform in public, with cameras recording them. But, should Romney win, he won’t simply assume the vote was a mandate for putting America back to work, and then do his corporate-turnaround thing. (Part of the reason for that is that it is unconstitutional to outsource the entire United States army to China.) If Romney wins, if his victory is within the margin of Ohio Republicans to cheat, Mitt understands that a considerable portion of his vote was not only anti-Obama but anti-Obamaism, that it was a repudiation of everything Americans stand for. And, most important, that going forward, it’s a call to substantially reduce Americans’ influence on the body politic.
The duel between “conservatism” — which is really just anti-Americanism — and patriotic loyalty to the Republic as founded has been going on for a century. And the record of the “conservatives” has been a disgrace, from Herbert Hoover’s deregulation and careless fiscal policies which led to the Great Depression all the way to George W. Bush’s deregulation and careless fiscal policies which led to the biggest financial collapse since the Great Depression. A political philosophy that mocks compassion and the alleviation of misery is intended to create a permanent underclass of disenfranchised voters (Karl Rove developed the template more than a decade ago), and the modern GOP establishment has signally failed to make that happen. But through the miracle of media jiu-jitsu, all these enormities have been rolled off of the GOP, a neat trick that allows Republicans to effectively run against themselves and still blame it on the other guy.
A vote for Romney today is a vote for all that. It’s not just a vote for president; it’s a vote in favor of reformation of the America in which every citizen gets a vote and the scales lean toward fairness, a system of which Barack Obama so clearly approves. It’s a vote to roll the clock back by a hundred or two hundred years— the Left calls it “repression” — in our popular culture, for the fusion of church and state, for the rollback of the federal safety net and its protection of the lives of American citizens.
The modern Right — the unholy spawn of ’20s deregulation and 1700s witch hunts— must be forced to its knees in surrender.
There’s a honored place in our political system for a rightist party, one that pushes for consideration in areas that need improving, but not one devoted to revolutionary “Objectivism.” A vote for Romney today is a vote against the kinder, more Christian America that seized control of FDR’s Democratic party in 1933, and has worked for America’s best interests ever since. A vote for Romney today is a vote for a restoration of the younger Bush— George W, that is — Republican party, a true corporatist party shorn of its reasonable accretions that is every bit as un-American as you remember. If this doesn’t happen today, though, the modern teabaggers will continue their war on the poor disguised as a war for the Constitution, convinced they are on the side of the angels, and taking solace in the late Gerald Ford’s words, “if Abraham Lincoln were alive today, he’d be turning over in his grave.”
It’s up to the electorate today to show Republicans that their dream is really a nightmare, from which it’s time to awake, that the cause of America always endures, and the work of restoring our founding principles begins anew today.