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Nov 07 2012

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The Day After – 2012

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Maybe This is What the Myans Were Talking About

Well, it’s over.

Welcome to the rest of your life, America.

You voted for it.

The days and weeks ahead will allow for a more detailed discussion on the far ranging impacts and implications of Election 2012. For today, I offer some general observations:

– After two years of non-stop campaigning, an avalanche of disturbingly negative and vacuous advertising and $6 billion raised and spent on the political contests, the American people chose to re-elect the same government that they have so profoundly disapproved of for two years.

– On the big questions, the existential questions of debt, deficits, taxes, jobs, regulation and the economy, nothing has been decided. We remain a profoundly divided nation, whose polarization is now tangibly sharper than before.

– President Obama is a winner without a mandate. 7 million fewer Americans voted for the President four years later; the first sitting President since Andrew Jackson more than a century and a half ago to win a smaller percentage of the popular vote in re-election. The President’s very respectable Electoral College vote haul masks an otherwise dispirited and barren victory.

– The Libertarian Gary Johnson and Independent Virgil Goode are shaping up as the “2000 Ralph Nader’s” for the GOP in 2012. The splinter candidates were the final nail in the coffin for Mitt Romney’s chance to win, pure and simple. To take the Electoral College after North Carolina was called for the GOP, Romney needed Florida, Virginia, Ohio and Colorado to win the election. Now look at the current raw vote totals from incomplete returns:

Florida: Obama winning margin (est.): 46,000. Gary Johnson total: 45,000. Difference: 1,000.

Virginia: Obama winning margin (est.): 44,000. Gary Johnson/Virgil Goode total: 40,000.Difference: 4,000.

Ohio: Obama winning margin (est.): 101,000. Gary Johnson total: 49,000. Difference 52,000.

Colorado: Obama winning margin (est.): 102,000. Gary Johnson/Virgil Goode total: 37,000. Difference: 63,000.

In every case, the vote difference would have triggered a recount. I leave it to Libertarians and Goode supporters to contemplate what they have just enabled.

– Finally, and most consequentially, Obamacare has now joined Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid as America’s fourth permanent entitlement. Once benefits start flowing during the next four years, it will be virtually impossible for any future president to repeal the program. As with the existing entitlements, the only changes that will be possible will be at the margins. This will have extraordinary and profound implications for the economy and for the quality and cost of health care for years to come.

Obamacare thus becomes President Obama’s greatest accomplishment and his greatest legacy; achieved through a straight partisan vote and in opposition to the will of a majority of the American people since the bill became law in 2010. For progressives, this is perhaps their greatest victory in American history. The foundation of single payer health care is now on the books. It is now a question of when, not if.

And with the end of the election there is no rest for the weary. A lame duck Congress and a re-elected President must address the fiscal cliff before December 31st and the debt ceiling will need to be raised by February 2013.

The American people, charged with electing a government capable of solving problems, just empowered the very structure that nearly brought fiscal disaster in the summer of 2011. We have been paralyzed for a year and a half campaigning and posturing, waiting for the American people to decide decisively – and America decided nothing.

You reap what you sow.

At the end of the day, voters have only themselves to blame.

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