By Jay B Gaskill

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I misjudged the popular vote because I failed to notice that there were faint signs of an economic recovery, just sufficient to trigger a small surge of allegiance to the current governing clique.

Romney was sadly prophetic when he opined that 47 percent of the electorate is significantly dependent on government and that we are close to a dependency tipping point. I paraphrase that comment, but that was the core idea.

When almost everything economic is politically determined (or seems to be), people are afraid to change politics in midstream.

The final outcome in the popular vote was roughly 50% to 48%. The latest available raw numbers are roughly – Obama, 60 million; and Romney, 57.4 million.

The community organizers who worked the very effective Obama turnout campaign overcame the Obama enthusiasm gap with gritty, traditional door-to-door, phone-to-phone work.  In this context, for “community organizers” we can substitute the more descriptive term, interest group wranglers.

The democratic coalition consists of a web of micro-constituencies that share just one significant common circumstance: Their lives are so deeply entangled with the web of government benefits, penalties and permissions that, for them, politics is all about getting their share as members of an interest group.  The recent voting majority of Americans consisted of this large plurality plus the remaining two of three percent who could be herded into line via fear and manipulation.  The herding is always much easier to accomplish in times of economic uncertainty.

The key to the election outcome, particularly in the swing states, was that, just under the radar, propelled by a chemistry of wishful thinking and small hints like a tiny revival of the real estate market, there was a sense that finally, finally, a small recovery is actually under way.  I hope that is actually the case.

I wrote months ago that this election will be about trauma, trust and turnaround.  The faint hints of a post-traumatic turnaround restored just enough trust in Obama that, combined with the relentless trust-undermining attacks on Romney, brought an additional percent or two of the original Obama coalition back into the fold.

In life and politics timing is everything.

The Romney camp’s strategic errors and the Obama camp’s strategic genius were integral to the conservative and progressive views of human nature: Camp Romney inspired and informed their supporters and trusted them to act; while Camp Obama gathered their supporters and herded them to the polls.

Every dark cloud has a silver lining.  This lining is steel.  We need to steel ourselves to face the truth: The fundamentals have not gone away.  The progressive program of spreading the wealth has arrived at its crunch point, because real wealth cannot sustain profligate borrowing and fiat money creation forever without a reckoning. There are pending consequences. Realism, even when purchased at a painful price, is nevertheless a good thing.  I’ve been reminding us that whoever is sworn in as president in January will be forced to deal with an epic economic and fiscal crisis, analogous to fixing a broken aircraft engine while in flight.  All of the real solutions will be unpopular.

Mr. Romney has been spared a great deal of grief.  Mr. Obama cannot get through the next three years without suffering a great deal of public anger.  Be careful what you wish for, Mr. President.

This is what I see as the deeper emotional force operating at the moment.  It consists of one part foreboding, one part denial.  I think that most Americans, liberals included, have always realized on some deep, often unexamined, level that we’ve been living on borrowed time, and that austerity, cutbacks and more forms of fiscal unpleasantness will confront us very soon: Yes, we will be forced to pay the piper.  Fairly or unfairly, Mr. Romney has symbolized the stern Dad for many, while Mr. Obama was the kind Mom.  If we must be disciplined, it appears that most voting Americans would rather let Mommy do it.

We are living in interesting times.

Pray for America, her president, the congress and all the rest of our leaders.  Pray for realism, charity and common sense.  Pray that the games are over.


Copyright © 2012 by Jay B Gaskill, Attorney at Law

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