You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t been blogging much lately. That’s partly because this is an especially busy time of the semester. Try grading a thousand midterm exam problems in a few days and see how many brain cells you have left over for blogging. Mostly, though, it’s my general unhappiness with the way the Presidential election is going.
I think it’s pretty likely that Romney is going to win. For the moment Obama is still maintaining his firewall in Ohio, but the polls have tightened there considerably. Meanwhile, Florida seems to be solidly red at this point, and the polls in my own state of Virginia are not headed in the right direction. Even more worrisome is that the polls have tightened considerably in the Virginia senate race between Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican George Allen. Kaine clings to a two-point lead, but that’s way down from previous polls.
Over the summer I felt certain that Romney would win. I was resigned to that fact. The economy was just too weak, the Democrats too spineless, and Romney too evil, for there to be much hope. Then the Democrats managed to pull off a good convention and Romney started making one mistake after another. My gloom lifted. But those days are long gone. Obama face-planted in the first debate, and suddenly no one is describing the Romney campaign as a “rolling calamity” any more. This all fits well with my generally gloomy view of the world, in which evil always triumphs. If it temporarily seems like good is winning, that’s just evil’s way of making it’s eventual triumph all the more satisfying.
The problem for Democrats, in this as in every election, is that the Republicans claim a majority of the stupid vote, and in this country that’s a very large voting block indeed. Forgive me, did I say the stupid vote? I meant the low-information voters. Here is an example of what the Democrats are up against:
Voting for a president is based on a combination of factual and emotional perception. The tipping point was last week’s debate in Denver. Romney finally did what he should have done all along instead of his balky cha cha with the old white men of the conservative Republican wing: he acted as the moderate he is, for the first time running as himself, not against himself, embracing his record as governor of Massachusetts….
At the debate, Romney did not simply act like he wanted to be president. He wants to be president. He showed vigor, and enthusiasm, and excitement, a man who wants to lead. It may all be ephemeral, because most of politics is ephemeral, a cynical means to the end of getting elected. But he also revealed compassion that, during the entirety of this absurdly long march, had never been in evidence before. He recognized the needs of the poor. He recognized the need for regulation…. (Emphasis Added)
I believe that Romney’s move to the center is not yet another flip-flop sleight of hand, perhaps naively. I believe he will send to the political Guantanamo those dirty old white men of the party ready to bomb Iran (speaking of wars, are we out of Afghanistan yet, despite our so-called allies killing our soldiers? See Obama policy).
That was Buzz Bissinger, a writer and talk show host. That bold face remark is interesting, don’t you think? At the first debate, with millions of people watching, for the first time in a very long campaign, Romney showed some compassion. And Bissinger decides on that basis that it was everything else that Romney said during the campaign that was motivated by political expediency? That’s what I mean by the stupid vote. If you vote for Romney because you actually want a fanatically right-wing government to be running the show, well, OK then. But if you vote for him because you think that he’s a moderate who is going to stand up to the extremists in his own party, then you’re stupid.
I am a political junkie. When I am home I pretty much always have one of the news channels on. (Usually MSNBC, occasionally CNN, but Fox is just unwatchable.) I check HuffPo and Nate Silver’s blog many times a day. The slightest polling uptick for Romney or downtick for Obama sends me into a funk. Spend a few minutes pondering the horror of a Romney administration, and suddenly another round of atheoblogging or going on about scientism seems a bit trivial. In fact, lately I’ve been forcing myself to follow things a bit less closely. I spent the second debate at the movies. (I saw Argo. Great movie!) It wasn’t enough just to say I won’t watch it, I had to be physically out of the house. When I came home I checked a few political websites, saw that Obama had done well, and then watched the late-night rerun of the debate. I’ve been saving Paranormal Activity 4 for Monday’s debate. On election night itself I might need a double feature.
But who knows? Maybe I’m being too gloomy. The swing state polls and electoral college math are still in Obama’s favor. Iowa and Wisconsin seem to be solidly in the Obama camp, and those two plus Ohio are all he needs from the swing states. And Virginia could well go the right way in the end. There’s only one poll that matters, after all, and election day will be here soon enough…