Yeah, I know I said I was going to tune out. I’m still trying to do that. I’ve managed to stay off of Facebook, where my daughter Chloe is apparently getting into flame wars with friends who are gloating about last night’s debacle. I did get on long enough to post my obligatory new profile pic talking about how wrong I am and how I’m Limburger cheese, but I didn’t read the host of comments responding to my announcement of a Facebook vacation.
I’m just not ready for that yet.
Last night, unable to sleep, I wrote two proposed editorials for the Deseret News and finished off a potential column about James Bond movies. Christmas music has been unable to keep my mind from racing all day. Having lost elections before, I anticipated that this experience would be a similar sort of short-term funk. But this is much, much worse.
I cannot shake the feeling that the nation made a serious, perhaps irrevocable, mistake yesterday.
It’s one thing to elect a charismatic young leader campaigning on hope and change and filling that empty vessel with all of your own personal fantasies about how wonderful things will be after he waves his magic wand. It’s quite another to elect the same guy after four of the bleakest economic years in America’s historical memory with the assumption that four more years of the same policies somehow won’t produce four more years of the same results.
In a nation projected to run trillion dollar deficits for as far as the eye can see, it’s mind-boggling to me that anyone would cast their vote based on access to free contraception, or funding for public television, or disgust with the use of the phrase “binders of women.” With a massively high chronic unemployment rate for the entirety of Mr. Obama’s presidency, what kind of person would suddenly find that situation acceptable mainly because the president looked pretty cool in his bomber jacket while embracing Chris Christie? I do not get that at all.
Part of my unwavering confidence in Romney’s inevitable victory came from an assurance that as a country, we weren’t so far gone as to willingly walk into this scenario with our eyes wide open. And yet, that’s what we did last night. A majority of Americans decided that higher taxes, vastly increased government spending, and deliberate ignorance of the imminent financial collapse of our most vital social programs will somehow pave the road to a brighter future. That was, frankly, inconceivable to me.
And yet, here we are.
Part of my distress, too, comes with a knowledge of what a huge asset the country rejected yesterday. It’s not just that Obama is so bad; it’s that Romney would’ve been so good, for the nation and, yes, for the LDS Church. A credible Mormon president would have opened doors, built philosophical bridges, and dissipated misunderstandings and mistrust in a way that would have had a tremendously positive impact on the church’s fortunes. It is extremely unlikely that a member of my church will ever have their name on the top of a national ticket again. Again, I confess to confusion and bewilderment at the sight of my Mormon Democratic friends and family celebrating this utterly wasted, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
I do think, however, that part of the problem is that Republicans, after their colossal repudiation four years ago, returned from the political wilderness in 2010 without fully learning the lessons they needed to learn about why they had been exiled in the first place. Republicans should have swept into the majority in the Senate last night, but they nominated Tea Party loons eager to shoot themselves in the foot with ridiculous stories of legitimate and God-sanctioned rape. Republicans will remain nationally unelectable until they can craft a platform that is not seen as hostile to the minority community. That means a major rethink of the GOP’s, and Governor Romney’s, hard-line immigration stance, particularly. And the GOP also needs to find a way to come to terms with, and financially stabilize, the unsustainable Obamacare system, which is never going away.
I don’t foresee a happy ending. There is no silver lining. I’m just watching, helplessly, as over half my fellow citizens cheerfully whistle while marching like lemmings into the river to wash away the nation’s future in a flood of debt and economic decline.
Tuning out again. Have a nice day.