Wednesday, November 7, 2012

My hope for the country

The strangest thing, to me, about this presidential election is the fact that many on the right wing of the Republican Party actually thought that Romney was going to win by a landslide.  I had a conservative friend who predicted a 54 to 46 percent victory by Romney, with about 340 electoral votes.  This is not an uniformed person, nor a dumb one.  He is very political and almost obsessively followed the campaign.  So, how was he so wrong?

One answer, of course, is that his hopes overrode his good sense.  But, the real reason seems to be that his sources of information were very limited.  That is to say, his window to the political world is Rush Limabaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Fox News, Rassmussen polling, Carl Rove, Dick Morris, etc – the right wing echo chamber.  So, his view of reality was not a view of reality, but rather it was a view of the spin by the right wing spinmeisters.  

Conservatives are not the only victims of spin, the left wingers whose view of the world is through the lens of MSNBC don’t see reality either, they see the left wing spin and believe it to be the world as it is.  It has been humorously said that MSNBC is Fox News for vegans. 

I have written many times before that I have been a left wing whacko and a right wing whacko, and I am now trying very hard to be understanding rather than polemic.  As a result of my experience, I know for a fact that I was a good man when I was a lefty and I was a good man when I was a righty, and there are good, decent people on both sides of the aisle.  There are idiots and jerks on both sides of the isle as well, of course, but I try to see the goodness in the people, and see the idealism in the ideas on both sides.

Another thing that I know for a fact is that once you are inside an ideological bubble, whether in the left wing whacko bubble or the right wing whacko bubble, all you see is the reflections of the beliefs of your bubble bouncing back at you.  Everything, everything proves to you that you are right and that your ideology is correct.

It takes a lot to break out of that bubble.  What broke the left wing bubble for me was the plight of the Vietnamese after the communists drove the U.S. out of Vietnam.  They were persecuted mercilessly to the point that they became boat people and risked and lost their lives at sea trying to escape the totalitarian oppression of the communists.  I had to rethink my entire view of the political world because I had thought that the U.S. war in Vietnam was based upon a trumped up false view of communism as a threat which was just to justify capitalist and imperialist greed of the U.S.  I decided I was wrong about communism, and eventually became a right wing whacko instead.

What broke the right wing bubble for me was the collapse of the housing and finance industry bubble in 2008.  My view that markets could be trusted to self-regulate and create wealth for all ran aground on the rocks of the realities of Wall Street greed, government indifference, and corporate-political corruption.  I decided I was wrong about deregulated free markets, and I decided that markets can only exist in the environment of regulation and governmental and legal restraints, otherwise they become corrupt enterprises that harm rather than empower society.

So, during the elections, I was aware of what both the right wing and left wing propaganda wings were pumping into the body politic, and tried to find a view that I considered to be fairly close to reality rather than too much influenced by the True Believers of either side.  As a result, the election came out pretty much as I had expected: an Obama win, a Democratic Senate, and a Republican House.

My biggest hope from this election is that the fanatical, Rigid Right will lose their grip on the Republican Party as a result of this election – Romney lost and I believe a number of extremist senatorial candidates also lost.  I hope  that the Republican Party can regain its sanity, see the world as it is rather than as being distorted by the extremist echo chamber of talk radio, Fox News, Carl Rove, etc., and become engaged in governing the country rather than trying to create some kind of bogus revolution that is supposed to establish a Libertarian or evangelical utopia on us all.

That is my hope for the country.