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English: President George W. Bush and Presiden...

English: President George W. Bush and President-elect Barack Obama meet in the Oval Office of the White House Monday, November 10, 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I spent less than the usual time on social media yesterday – I took a kind of day-after breather – but I devoted most of what time I did spend to venting. You can see it in my twitter feed down on the right. It was not my larger self on display, but “moderation in all things, including moderation” as Petronius – or was it Oscar Wilde? – said, and Barack Obama is gracious enough for the two and more of us. Some people have to do some slappin’.

You can trace the current cultural divide clearly back to Vietnam and the Sixties, but many current inhabitants of one side or the other are younger than that and have other more recent touchstones. For progressives, a more recent phase of this developing hundred years cultural war over the American idea began with Newt Gingrich and the Conservative Opportunity Society. Follow that with the impeachment of President Clinton, closely followed by Bush v. Gore and a conservative leaning Supreme Court acting in contradiction of its own states rights principles in, effectively, deciding the 2000 election for the GOP popular vote loser. Add to that, finally, four years of expressed determination simply to ruin the presidency of Barack Obama, accompanied often by the vilest expressions of racist and xenophobic paranoia – and you have a Democratic electorate ready to celebrate, gloat, and flip off the losers on their way out the door in a manner that progressive, liberal America simply has never had the modern opportunity to do.

Barack Obama is the first Democratic president to win two consecutive terms with popular vote majorities since FDR – that’s nearly seventy years. I have had no previous moment like this in my lifetime. So. Yes. I’m enjoying it.

In previous posts I laid out what a one-term Obama presidency followed by a two-term Romney presidency would mean for historic long-term GOP dominance of the office. This one Democratic victory provides the pivot upon which potentially to flip that script. Now, 2016 will close with 16 years of Democratic presidency over the previous 24 years. Given the current disintegrative state of the GOP, a Hillary Clinton run in 2016 has the potential to produce 24 of 32 years – an unprecedented run for the Democratic Party at a time when the nation’s developing demographic makes the possibility entirely feasible.

Here is Rachel Maddow offering the best sixteen minutes you will view on the range of meanings Tuesday’s Obama victory holds.

Here is James Fallows offering us the “Atlas Shrugged Guy” – the libertarian version of American conservative crazy that streamed this to Fallows over the course of Election Eve.

Now here is libertarian Neal Boortz:

 I would like to congratulate Richard Speck. I would — you know, I would like to congratulate Ted Bundy on sneaking into yet another sorority house and killing another coed. I would like to congratulate Adolf Hitler on his invasion of Poland. I would like to congratulate the — Al Qaeda for their successful attack on New York City. I would like to congratulate the Ansar al-Sharia crowd over there in Benghazi for their successful assault on our consulate.

Congratulate Barack Obama? I’m sorry, Herman [Cain], love you but you can take that and stick in that phony damn cowboy hat of yours.

We’re not done yet. As I write, this and more over the transom, so to speak, from a twitter friend

Express your hatred, shame, and outright disgust with anyone you know who voted Democrat

However, for me, I’m choosing another rather unique path; a personal boycott, if you will. Starting early this morning, I am going to un-friend every single individual on Facebook who voted for Obama, or I even suspect may have Democrat leanings. I will do the same in person. All family and friends, even close family and friends, who I know to be Democrats are hereby dead to me. I vow never to speak to them again for the rest of my life, or have any communications with them. They are in short, the enemies of liberty. They deserve nothing less than hatred and utter contempt.

Now if I were to call any one of these individuals a fucking asshole, my words would be a crudity less for their conventional foulness than for their utter failure to capture the nature of the psychological derangement of these people. Still, in the banal palaver that commonly passes for cultural mediation in media forums, both of us would be characterized as extreme debasers of the national conversation – implored, even, to apologize – with no distinction made between genuine outrage and a version of insanity.

While you read and listen in the period ahead to calls for coming together and a seeking of common ground, for the noble process of compromise, keep in mind the line that stretches, increment by increment, from what it is Maddow describes at the end of her segment – two different political philosophies offering a range of varying solutions to commonly agreed upon problems – to the fetid creature who is Neal Boortz and the dunce who is Eric Dondero at the end. Keep in mind how narrow has been the distance between those we would recognize as intellectual and human outliers and those who have been in power in the Republican Party. Is Rush Limbaugh very different from Boortz or Dondero? Limbaugh has starred and been cheered at CPAC and served as effective prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of the conservative movement and GOP.

As it will be with all the intellectual standards of the Enlightenment and the principles of science, employed from evolution and astrophysics to climate science, before meaningful and regular compromise can be found with contemporary American conservatives, American conservatives have to forge their own compromise with reality.

AJA

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4 comments

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Rob November 8, 2012 at 7:00 pm

I have friends who can’t be dissuaded from their version of reality. It doesn’t matter how wrong they are, or what facts I provide, they have their “facts” and stick with them. But unlike Eric Dondero, I can still interact with these friends and — gasp — even enjoy their company. But on some occasions, I do find it frustrating that I have to work within the confines of present social mores. In those situations I try to repeat the Ralph Kramden mantra: “Pins and needles, needles and pins… it’s a happy man that grins.” And I think I’m better for it.

Still, on an instinctual level, I’d go you one step further and call these people (the Donderos, not my friends) batshit crazy fucking assholes. But since they’re obviously suffering from some form of mental illness, I’ll leave instinct out of it and just call them batshit crazy. Calling them fucking assholes is temporarily satisfying, but one would just run into those exasperating social constructs you discussed.

On the whole, these cultural divides and the type of insanity displayed by people like Dondero, Boortz and Limbaugh has existed as long as we’ve existed (a pattern of human behavior you alluded to in “Anti-Semitism: the Ur-Hatred”). It’s just that now, thanks to the advent of modern communication and the internet, gobs of this noxious material is more readily available than ever before in human history. And taking the very long term view, whether this exposure helps or hinders our evolution remains to be seen. It’s obviously hindering conservatives at present, but I fear they’ll evolve (we are fighting human nature after all). However, as best we can, I think we’ll evolve too to deal with them.

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