Mon 5 Nov 2012
In the last day before the rhetorically cataclysmic 2012 presidential election, pundits are playing (not really something that could be called work) around the clock to predict who will win tomorrow’s final tally. There is no question about the obvious fact that the United States is about as polarized as it has ever been. As both candidates shout out, the choice is clear. It is hard to imagine anyone who is still undecided; indeed, I think it is so unpatriotic not to have made up your mind that anyone still labeled “undecided” should not be eligible to vote. If turnout is anything like the last election (and most pundits think it will not be on either side), some 40% of the eligible voters will not bother to vote at all. Democracy is so taken for granted in this country that some of my fellow citizens are content to let others decide their fate. And given the untold millions of dollars fueling the propaganda machines, it would seem that the political system assumes the rest of the electorate can be bought by 30-second attack ads.
I write this post in my university office, since my home has not had electricity or Internet for over a week, due to the massive destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy. In my home town more than 50 cars are lined up overnight hoping for gas to be delivered to the local Hess station. But despite the brutal infrastructure damage, especially along the southern coast of Long Island, the death toll has been relatively low. All deaths are tragic, but meanwhile the death toll rises daily in Syria, bumped from the evening news in the New York Metropolitan Area. Camping out by my fireplace each night and setting up my Coleman stove, I really have nothing to complain about. In a sense the enforced rest, week off from teaching and catch-up on reading has been a pleasant, even if increasingly cold, experience. But tomorrow the real damage could be done if Gov. Romney is elected.
I have no crystal ball, but the odds certainly favor President Obama at this moment. No president is perfect, but in my mind Obama deserves re-election for a variety of reasons and Governor Romney does not for an even larger number of reasons. Let’s start with the no-end-in-sight “War on Terror” that many on the right in this country see mainly as a war with Islam. Romney’s previous comments on the Islamic faith show that he is only too eager to grovel before the Islamophobic right wing that paints Islam as inherently violent and Muhammad as a pedophile. The more people hate Islam, the more likely they are to vote for Romney. Romney has stoked this fear as well, in his “severely conservative” rightward leap during the Republican primaries. Not once has he said to the extremists and newly christened “teavangelicals” that their antagonism toward Muslims is wrong. (more…)