I am stunned. There is just no other way to put it. I am absolutely stunned by the results from the elections last night. The polls had everything close down to the wire last night and while the popular vote is close, the Electoral College tally has given the President a landslide victory. This is the first in a series of post election analysis. First up for consideration are the disappointing effects of socialism and a scheming media establishment. Both were factors that contributed to the results of the 2012 election.
Venezuela held its election last month and despite a determined and united opposition, Hugo Chavez won handily with a large majority of the vote. Some of that margin can certainly be explained by voting irregularities and outright manipulation on the part of the people doing the counting. The large margin of victory makes clear that socialism does work in one important respect: it helps those in power to be re-elected by giving goodies to their supporters paid for from the treasury. In 2008 ‘Peggy the Moocher‘ expected Obama to help pay her mortgage in exchange for her vote, in 2012 ‘Obama Phone Lady‘ wanted us to “keep Obama in President, you know” because he gave her a phone and more was to come. Workers in industries that the President bailed out are understandably grateful for the assistance. Government intervention did not save anything; it merely delayed the day of reckoning.
Most people do not seem to be aware that there is a difference between their personal situation and the broader economy. They do not understand that when things are taken from others and given to them that the others will eventually either run out of or find a way to protect their property. Either way the result is economic stagnation as the productive classes withdraw. In extreme cases, such as Cuba and the former Soviet Union, poverty is the norm for most of the population and society is not even able to meet the basic needs of its people.
Someone once observed that even though socialism/communism has failed everywhere it is tried that there are always new recruits to fill the ranks. The reason? There is always someone out there proselytizing for the cause. Notice that few if any Republicans regularly and publicly beat the drum for the principles of the free market and civil society. Talk radio, Fox News and CNBC don’t count as they mostly preach to the choir.
One of Rush Limbaugh’s favorite phrases is “ignorance is our most expensive commodity.” So long as people are ignorant of basic economics and don’t understand civics as anything beyond voting to get stuff we are going to see more elections like the one that just concluded. Freedom is difficult. It requires struggle to make one’s own way with no guarantee of success. Socialism is easy because the government will take care everyone. In the best of cases it leads to a dreary, bureaucrat controlled life. When the bottom falls out, like we are seeing in Europe, the people face a triple whammy of a government that can no longer take care of their needs, lost the skills and the drive to lead their own lives, and insufficient wealth to maintain the standard of living to which they have become accustomed. Bad things happen in these situations and it remains to be seen how it will play out in the United States.
The media in this country continues its slide to irrelevance with its conduct. The discovery of the JournoList, where reporters from different media outlets around the country conspired to report stories favorable to then candidate Obama and hide negative ones confirmed suspicions many had about media collusion with Democrats. Obama halo photos showed up on a regular basis during the campaign. The appearance out of nowhere of the ‘war on women’ theme during the primaries in January smacked of a need to change the subject. Republican candidates were just starting to have substantive discussions as early straw polls trimmed the field. At no point in the debates had any candidate raised the topic of contraception. It came from debate moderator George Stephanpoulos. Silence about the developing Fast and Furious scandal, where weapons sold to Mexican drug cartels by the US government led to the deaths of hundreds of Mexicans and two Border Patrol agents, was curious. Normally for the media reaction to the appearance of a government coverup is like waving chum in shark infested waters. During the Arab Spring the media did not report on the behavior of protesters in Tahrir Square. When the Arab Spring started to go south and Western friendly dictators were being replaced with Muslim Brotherhood approved dictators, the stories drifted from the front pages. The outrage in Benghazi where an ambassador and three embassy staff were beseiged for hours and then murdered was not newsworthy. Whatever the claim now, the media repeated the claim that the attack was caused by the video. When evidence of a coverup became plain the media chose to ignore the issue and turned the focus to any other thing possible. The Watergate affair was described as a third rate burglary, Iran-Contra was a strange weapons financing scheme but no Americans, let alone an ambassador, was killed in either of the other two. Under a Republican administration both Fast and Furious and Benghazi would be getting fitted for their –gates. Still, the media chose to ignore the story. As a hurricane made its way toward states in the northeast the media turned its attention to helping the President look presidential.
The behavior of the media has been shameful and they are paying for their behavior by losing the trust of the people. Newsweek, which sold for one dollar in 2010, recently announced the cessation of their print edition as of the end of this year. Their influence will continue to decline but because of their ability to affect campaigns at the margins, they will still be dangerous. Conservatives and Republicans can not do much to change the situation but they should be aware of the hostility of the media and attempt to reach the public directly.
Moderates and base elections are next in part 2.