He has been a lousy president, but give Barack Obama credit for recognising the jealous, indolent, resentful and addled could be moulded into an election-winning alliance
A bit of an early post mortem on the American election but we have to start somewhere. Possibly the most crucial determinant of the result is that the American voting population is now inhabited in very large numbers by those who believe the world owes them a living and that someone else having more than they do is in itself a wrong that needs to be righted. There is, however, more to it than that.
The confluence of the mendicants, the envious, the abortion lobby, what I will call the cohort of damaged women, and the social sciences know-nothings has proven a formidable combination. They are a new constituency amalgamation that will affect the politics of the United States for the foreseeable future.
So far as those who vote for a living are concerned one can understand why they are voting as they do. There are more of them than ever as their numbers have been propagated by leftist parties everywhere with the specific aim of building near-majority voting blocks. And this they have done. Whether it brings ruin to the country is merely a detail and as ruin is so slow, the present political class hopes to be gone and done before things really do fall about their heads. That was the view of the Roosevelt generation as it had been for those who took their lead from Lyndon Johnson. But now, with the $16 trillion debt and another trillion added each year, this may be the generation that finally does have to pay the price. Greece is more than a metaphor. It is an example of what really can happen when public spending moves beyond control.
In the meantime, there are large parts of the electorate voting for the services and goods that the government promises to distribute to them. Romney nearly having won after making it clear that he intended to withdraw the supposedly free healthcare was a sign of the residual good sense in much of the voting population — but that 47%, as he named them, are a hard bunch to pry loose from their spoils. It may take an outcome no different from Greece, where the government point blank can no longer afford to pay for its promises, that may well be the only way this will ever end.
The Resentful and the Envious
The resentful and the envious are the second cohort; they are the ones who had been instructed to vote for “revenge”. That Obama used precisely that word was seen as a blunder by those who had no idea just how potent the word was. This had been market tested and focused grouped to an extraordinary degree and was launched just when it was meant to have its greatest effect, just before the election itself. It is a word that makes little impact on people who are generally satisfied with their lives. The dangers in it went right past the Romney campaign team just as you might think. They even put the word revenge into their own ads and spread far and wide the very concept Obama was himself trying to promote.
It may strike the wrong tone for us, but for those who are worm eaten with envy, they understood the point very well indeed. They were there in their numbers with no greater aim in mind than to bring down those whom they resent and envy for their perceived success in life. For those who were never going to vote for Obama anyway, it was just one more reason amongst all of the others. For those towards whom the desire for vengeance was aimed, it found its mark and made them into broken glass Democrats. They were motivated to make sure Romney was never going to win if they had anything to do with it, and they did have something to do with it and Romney did indeed lose.
The Abortion-Rights Lobby
An important component of this part of the Democrat program is the bringing into the fold what I describe as “damaged women”. This is a relatively new phenomenon in politics which has existed in various forms before now but has emerged only recently as a formidable force for right of centre parties to have to deal with. It is a product of the feminism of the 1960s which unmoored women from their traditional roles but had as its most significant element the “sexual revolution”, a change in social mores euphemistically known as “sexual liberation” but which is anything but. It has made the abortion-rights issue possibly the greatest gift ever for the Democrats in the US.
And here is the thing. The likelihood that the Republicans would even attempt to do anything about “reproductive rights” cannot be seriously entertained. The ability to restrict a woman’s ability to secure an abortion in New York or California, let us say, would require a Republican to be elected with the expressed intent of limiting abortion, who would then make appointments to the Supreme Court dependent on this one feature in a judge’s CV. This judge would need to receive approval in the Senate and, having done so, would then need to form part of a majority decision to repeal Roe v. Wade. After repeal there would then have to be legislation passed to make abortion illegal; such legislation would be unlikely to pass a single state house in the United States.
Thus, the probability of any of this ever happening, whoever might become the president, is precisely zero. Abortion rights are as secure as, indeed more secure, than the right to bear arms. It might as well be in the Constitution, given how literally impossible it would be to change the circumstances for abortion in any significant way, never mind the availability of contraception.
And what’s more, everyone knows it. Anyone who votes based on some concern that the Republican Party would be capable of making this change even if it wished to is living in a world of paranoia and might as well be worried about asking the government to protect them from men from Mars. The reality, however, is more closely represented by this video which is funny in a very unfunny way. Do not play this in an office environment and make sure you turn the volume down. I also give you a bad language alert. But the point is massive.
Miss 31 voted for Obama and is representative of the women who are in massive agreement with the cries of misogyny and the lack of respect for women. There is no point going too far into this, but the most influential social philosopher of the twentieth century was Hugh Hefner and his Playboy Philosophy. You would have to be at least as old as I am to recall what a shock it was to read Hefner’s “philosophy” in the pages of Playboy back when I was about 14 in the 1960s. Here’s the gist: all those uptight girls hanging onto their virginity ought to liberate themselves and get into the sexual scrum with the boys. In an era when a goodnight kiss was a big deal this was magic. And with the likes of Germaine Greer and her buddies saying the same just as the birth control pill was becoming readily available, a new world opened for which neither the young women of the time or the young men were really prepared.
But who has come out of this genuinely hurt by the changed attitude to women. Both men and women are worse for it, but if you ask me, it is women who have been psychologically damaged far more than the men. And I suspect Miss 29 has not avoided the deep and fearsome pains of commitment-free sexual relations either.
These are the attitudes that Obama was tapping into. Watching the Middle East burn and the American economy trashed by debt and deficits are irrelevant to such women whose anger is beyond all understanding, particularly for men of my and Romney’s generation.
Social Sciences Know Nothings
And then, finally, there are the social sciences know nothings. It is a term I have put together for want of something better. They, too, love power, but have no way to gain it other than through the words they use. These are the armchair Marxists and social revolutionaries of the couch. All talk and no action, but there is plenty of talk. They produce little and their value-added is minimal in comparison with the serious producers of the world. They have read the literature of the left, they have thought their shallow thoughts, and they are irritated that the riches of the world often go to people who never graduated from universities and who might be unable to string five sentences together in a single paragraph. These are your academics and media types who, in their own way, may be the most envious and resentful of the lot.
And it has been clear from the start that the media have understood exactly how bad Obama has been because they have known with precision exactly what parts of what Obama has done or said that have required their cover. Obama has had to lie over Benghazi and so they have covered for him to the maximum extent they could. Obama tells producers "you didn’t build that" and the media runs dead with the quote so that it never really becomes as significant as it ought to be. They know exactly how dreadful Obama has been, and cannot even manufacture a greater good, that their lies and distortions have protected the community from having to do without, had Obama lost the election in spite of every service they rendered in defence of his reputation and image.
We are in dangerous times. Obama and Gillard are two of a kind. Empty of ability, proven failures at everything they have tried to achieve, but nevertheless able to command majorities in the legislative systems of our two nations. But the American election is the one that will matter most and whose outcome will resonate far into the future in ways that are incalculable. Re-electing Obama has endangered our way of life and may even make it unsustainable. Electing Mitt Romney would have given at least the possibility of putting us back on a more stable path. It is an option that has now been closed forever. It is the alternative future that, because of the election, will never be allowed to happen
Steve Kates teaches economics at RMIT University. His most recent book is Free Market Economics: an Introduction for the General Reader