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The votes were counted and one wing of our one ruling party won. Rejoice!

8 November 2012

Summary:  Our political pundits focus on the “election as horse race” to conceal the relatively small policy differences between the two parties, and so sooth a somnolent public who might become restive if they understood the nature of the New America being constructed on the ruins of the Second Republic.  Here are some articles to help us see more clearly. Second in a series.  Also see the posters at the end of the post!

It looks simple, small, harmless.

Contents

  1. Some useful articles describing our one-party system
  2. An important lesson, but we are blind and can’t see it
  3. America can be seen more clearly from abroad
  4. Posts in this series about the results of Campaign 2012
  5. Seeing our situation in pictures instead of words

(1)  Useful articles describing our one-party system

This list will be updated. These are the useful articles as of 9am EST.  As described in the previous post, most of the discussion is either about political horse races (past and future), or rants (often quite delusional) about the glories of our side and the evils of the others.  Descriptions of our actual condition create cognitive dissonance, and (worse) scare the sheep.

The Democratic Party won the election by moving decisively to the right, co-opting many of the GOP’s policies (especially those most loved by the 1%).  Obama retained his liberal gloss by advocating social reforms of little interest to the 1%. Romney failed to counter this with a move to the center (after his win in the primaries), instead attempting to ignore Obama’s actual policies and portray him as Lenin. This failed, allowing Obama to build on his strength on the Left (nowhere else to go) and capture a winning margin in the center.  QED.

Please mention in the comments any articles you find useful.

  1. America’s Increasingly Tribal Electorate“, Tom Jacobs, Pacific Standard, 1 November 2012 — “A political scientist explains the disconnect between our moderate policy views and our intense hatred for the other side.”
  2. How the Republican party sabotaged itself: the real story of the 2012 election“, Michael Cohen, Guardian, 5 November 2012 — “As America’s demographic facts shifted in favour of Democrats, the GOP chose instead to paint itself into an ideological corner”
  3. How Conservative Media Lost to the MSM and Failed the Rank and File“, Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic, 7 November 2012
  4. Obama and progressives: what will liberals do with their big election victory?“, Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian, 7 November 2012 — “With fights over social security, Medicare, ongoing war, and other key progressive priorities looming, what will they do with their new power?”
  5. Maps of the 2012 US presidential election results — Worth a look; they say a lot.

(2)  The most important lesson, but we are blind and cannot see it

American politics go tribal“, Pacific Standard, 1 November 2012 — “A political scientist explains the disconnect between our moderate policy views and our intense hatred for the other side.” Excerpt:

Political scientist Lilliana Mason’s analysis is more subtle, and more disturbing. Her research suggests that, in terms of our attitudes towards issues, we are no more polarized than we were decades ago. But our emotions, and the behaviors they drive, have largely uncoupled from our actual analysis of the issues. Essentially, the Stony Brook University scholar argues, our identities have become increasingly intertwined with our political affiliation. As a result, we feel ever more certain that our party is right and the other is wrong—even in cases where their positions aren’t far apart.

Our attitude towards the opposing party has become, basically, tribal: We detest them simply because they’re the other side.

“The American public can hold remarkably moderate and constant issue positions, while nonetheless becoming progressively more biased, active and angry when it comes to politics,” she argues. “Even as we agree on most issues, we are becoming increasingly uncivil in our approach to politics.”

This touches one of the major themes of the FM website, as described in Polarization and hot rhetoric conceal two similar political parties. Will we ever notice?, October 2010. This reviews the political science data about changing political views (little polarization), and draws what might be the most important conclusion about our political condition today…

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We see the real polarization all around us. Not in the small policy differences between the two major parties, but in the political rhetoric they use.  Bush Jr was a fascist, probably a NAZI.  Obama is a socialist Moslem pretending to be an American.  This over-heated rhetoric serves an important purpose for party leaders.  As differences narrow between the parties, policy differences are replaced by personalities spewing noise.  It’s necessary to maintain party cohesion; the rank and file must believe the parties differ in some important ways.  So a host of skilled communicators work to hide the grey political consensus of our elites, painting over this a facade – rival teams of good and bad guys.   ”You are evil” replaces “Your policies are bad”.

How the America people react to this painful knowledge will determine much about the course of American history.  We might shrug and things as they are (whining loudly).  Or we might wake up and act.

(3)  America can be seen more clearly from abroad

We watch our political parties fiddle to entertain us. Our political gurus and journalists become bookies. Meanwhile America burns.  We are blind, but people in Europe see this clearly.

  • America Has Already Lost Tuesday’s Election, Destroyed by Total Capitalism“, Jakob Augstein, Der Spiegel, 5 November 2012 — “Germans see the US election as a battle between the good Obama and the evil Romney. But this is a mistake. Regardless of who wins the election on Tuesday, total capitalism is America’s true ruler, and it has the power to destroy the country.”
  • Notes on the Decline of a Great Nation“, Der Spiegel, 5 November 2012 — “The United States is frittering away its role as a model for the rest of the world. The political system is plagued by an absurd level of hatred, the economy is stagnating and the infrastructure is falling into a miserable state of disrepair. On this election eve, many Americans are losing faith in their country’s future.”
  • Americans Don’t Want The Truth. In US Elections, He Who Lies Wins“, Gregor Peter Schmitz, Der Spiegel, 6 November 2012 — “Regardless which candidate wins the US presidential election on Tuesday, neither of them has been honest to the American people about the scale of the problems facing the country. But Americans have only themselves to blame. They prefer to be lied to rather than to face the truth.”

(4) This series about the results of Campaign 2012

  1. Conservatives, celebrate the historic victory you won today!
  2. The votes were counted and one wing of our one ruling party won. Rejoice!
  3. How Obama AND conservatives both won on Tuesday
  4. Civil rights just took a step forward, the slow hard way. The right way.
  5. The hidden major party, the key to political control of America

(5)  Seeing our situation in pictures instead of words

Please note in the comments any posters or graphic you find useful to better see our political situation!

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16 Comments leave one →
  1. Thomas More permalink
    8 November 2012 3:34 am

    Liberals enjoy gloating today about the hysterical denial of reality by conservatives which has led to a set of increasingly crazed recriminations that built up to a national tantrum. Conservatives have variously blamed Hurricane Sandy, a vast media conspiracy, and Chris Christie for “this disaster” of the Kenyan Maoist fascist angry black guy getting re-elected.

    Liberals became unhinged, however, when I reminded them online of what four more years of Barack Obama means. More endless unwinnable foreign wars, more extrajudicial murders of U.S. citizens without trial or even accusing them of a crime, more prosecution of American whistleblowers than all previous presidents in history (many whistleblowers having merely revealed U.S. war crimes or military contractor corruption — viz., Bradley Manning); more tax cuts for the super-rich following up on Obama’s agreement to extend the Bush tax cuts; more money for America’s bloated and senile military-police-surveillance-prison-torture complex (Obama signed off on a budget that increased U.S. military spending 8% last year while keeping the budget for all other government departments flat); more of the endless unwinnable War Against Copyright Infringement that recently culminated in illegal raids on Kim Dotcom in New Zealand and the attempt to pass SOPA and PIPA; an even more extreme War On Drugs that will see Obama’s Attorney General ordering terminal cancer patients arrested and handcuffed for using state marijuana dispensaries; and even more secrecy in what is already one of the most secretive administrations in U.S. history, an administration which now claims the right to murder U.S. citizens without even telling its judiciary or its legislature why.

    Needless to say, the liberals went ballistic and accused me of being “dumber and more deluded than Rush Limbaugh.” So apparently all those NY Times headlines about “Obama’s secret kill list” are just fantasy, a pipe dream, something we’ve all been imagining.

    The lesson?

    Denial of reality isn’t just limited to conservatives. America is now ruled by a single party with two wings — the Party of Denial. Call it the HOG — the Hallucinating Out-to-lunch Party.

    • 8 November 2012 3:48 am

      More,

      “Denial of reality isn’t just limited to conservatives.”

      I agree totally. Many of the posts on the FM website have been devoted to showing that exact thing. As you note, there are many examples. Liberals beliefs about climate science are an exceptionally clear example. Much as conservatives refused to believe pre-election polls — finding exotic excuses to insult Nate Silver — liberals consider climate scientists to be authorities. Unless they disagree with global warming dogma, in which case they become incompetents.

      Only time will tell, but I think we’ll look back at the following as denial of reality: “The Greatness of Barack Obama Is Our Great Project“, Charles P. Pierce, Esquire, 7 November 2012. Saying this in November 2008 was optimism, but looks delusional to me.

      Part of what drives people crazy about {Obama} … is that he so clearly understands his own genuine historical stature, and that he wears it so easily, and that he uses it so deftly. It is not obvious. He does not use it brutally or obviously. It is just there with him, a long and deep reservoir of violence and sorrow and tragedy and triumph out of which comes almost everything he does.

      He came into this office a figure of history, unlike anyone who’s become president since George Washington. The simple event of him remains a great gravitational force in our politics. It changes the other parts of our politics in their customary orbits. It happens so easily and so in the manner of an immutable physical law that you hardly notice that it has happened until you realize that what you thought you knew about the country and its people had been shifted by degrees until it is in a completely different place.

      Change, he talks about. Change is the force around him when he walks into the room.

  2. gaiasrequite permalink
    8 November 2012 4:01 am

    .The one thing that bogs me down the most, WHAT is the goal? Is there a goal? Do we not know what it is because it’s to terrible? Or, is there simply no goal?

    It would seem that since it’s invention, America has changed because it’s people have changed, it is no longer 1800. I think this is highly acceptable as well as to be expected. However, it would seem that nobody has a vision of what this country needs to do, to accommodate for those changes. It’s as if we are just listlessly lingering in a state of confusion about the fact that time has marched on and we are still playing by the rules of 19th century Protestants…..well then there are those who want to marry their same sex dog, run naked in the streets worshipping trees while smoking their marijuana.

    We have turned into a nation of extremes, the more ridiculously off center, the better; and that’s just the people. I don’t even want to get started on the insanity of those who are “running” the country.

    So again, flummoxed, exasperated, and felling like we aught just fall to the floor and laugh our selves into hysteria; what is the goal? Is there a single American left in this country that has a vision of what we need to do, to carry us through the 21st century??

    I don’t believe the question is that hard, but it would seem it is either impossible to answer, or nobody else is asking it.

    Does anyone know what life is like in Canada, thinking of a move. I hear New Zealand is nice?

    • 8 November 2012 4:05 am

      gaiasrequite

      “what is the goal? Is there a single American left in this country that has a vision of what we need to do, to carry us through the 21st century??”

      I know, superficially, several members of the 1% and more of the top 5%. Fear not, they have a clear vision of what America should be. A cold rational set of goals. And if they have their way, it is what America will be.

  3. gaiasrequite permalink
    8 November 2012 4:44 am

    Ok FM but still not getting to the knitty gritty…..WHAT is their goal, more money? More power? Perhaps both. That’s my issue, they have those things already and “we the people” are handing it over to them on silver serving platters. So….if they just want to take over, why don’t they get on with it?

    So see how that is confounding? I don’t think the 1% or 5% are any more clear on what they want then anyone else.

    When I listen to the political chatter and noise this country spreads into the great void, I come out feeling fuzzy headed and, well like I said, I feel like laughing myself into hysteria after which I will pick up a good classic fiction novel and return to the world from which I came. Cause wow, people are insane out here. I was talking to a friend this evening I ask “did you vote” reply “yes I did” I ask “are you happy with the results” reply “not at all” laughing now “you voted for Romney” “yep” “why” I asked”? Reply “because I didn’t think we could take 4 more years of Obama’????

    This is what you get when a good share of Americans vote. They don’t vote for who they think has the best policies, or who represents them the best. They vote for the guy they know the least about, because the one they know about they don’t agree with?

    AAAH sigh, I don’t know Fab. I think you might be fighting a loosing battle. But keep up the good work any way, because you never know what might happen based on what you post, like the butterfly effect perhaps.

    I however, need to go create dialogue for some fiction characters from another planet. Going to read Plato’s republic (I love the way those guys talked).

    May there always be a light to follow, and if not, good people to help us find it:)!

    • 8 November 2012 5:07 am

      gaiasrequite,

      (1) “I think you might be fighting a loosing battle. But keep up the good work any way, because you never know what might happen based on what you post, like the butterfly effect perhaps.”

      Our job is to try, no matter what the odds. Like voting, our collective effect is greater than that of each of us acting alone. As you say, we never know the effect of our actions.

      (2) “That’s my issue, they have those things already and “we the people” are handing it over to them on silver serving platters. So if they just want to take over, why don’t they get on with it?”

      Many predators are cautious. After all, they have so much to lose — and what’s the hurry? They’re playing the long game. Safe, secure.

      (3) “WHAT is their goal, more money? More power? Perhaps both. … I don’t think the 1% or 5% are any more clear on what they want then anyone else.”

      People have different goals. I know of no way to judge them, no universal yardstick. Some are higher, more spiritual, more abstract. Some are physical, worldly, immediate. All can be quite clear, however absurd they might appear to someone with a different perspective on life.

      O’Brien: “The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. … The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. … How does one man assert his power over another, Winston?”

      Winston: “By making him suffer.”

      O”Brien: “Exactly, by making him suffer. Obedience is not enough. Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own. Power is inflicting pain and humiliation. … Do you begin to see the kind of world we are creating? … Always there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. … If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever.”

      -– From George Orwell’s 1984

    • gaiasrequite permalink
      8 November 2012 5:46 am

      O”Brien: “Exactly, by making him suffer. Obedience is not enough. Unless he is suffering, how can you be sure that he is obeying your will and not his own. Power is inflicting pain and humiliation. …

      I know some enlisted military personnel, who live by these very rules…..how very dark, thank you for the imagery.

      “our collective effect is greater than each of us acting alone. As you say, we never know the effect of our actions.”

      Yes, but a problem with this is that it seems Americans are so scattered on views; can there ever be enough of a particular mind set to get anything done? I think people have forgotten what this country is supposed to be “live and let live”. If people would remember this one key ingredient to our nation something could be done. The point there being, common goals should not depend on common values, beliefs, view points etc. I think the Idea that people can vary in all these aspects, while fighting together for that which makes this possible, has been lost in the scramble.

      What everyone is scrambling for however, I cannot see. Seems so utterly absurd! But, I suppose that’s what you meant about goals, and perhaps that is the biggest wall we keep hitting. Some are preparing for the next life and there for don’t care much about this one; while others only care about the here and now and what it can provide them.

      Either way, it would seem there is a feeling of doom among people. I wonder if it is because they sense some impending danger? Or, is it that they realize things are bad, they would rather not do anything about it so….I know the world ending would fix it.

      I have had more missionaries knocking at my door talking about the end times then ever I can remember. People…can’t live with them….can’t live…. huh guess you could go on with out them, but it might get boring. I bet we keep the gods entertained, even if it is misery for us.

    • 8 November 2012 5:51 am

      Galisrequite,

      Nicely said. I agree of all points.

      The “house view” here is optimism, although in my personal capacity I have less confidence than in my official capacity here.

      But then, I hear rumors that is true of a god as well…

    • 8 November 2012 2:28 pm

      “WHAT is their goal, more money? More power? Perhaps both”

      If I may steal from Epicurus, that confusion you’re experiencing results from the realization that there are limits to the usefulness of power and wealth. Once you go beyond a certain point, the additional value of piling on more money and power is fairly little – yet the wealthy and powerful sometimes seem to want to jam the money valve open and show little concern that they may choke on pointless wealth.

      Why does this happen? Epicurus argues that it’s simply a matter of mistaking the goal for the means. One perfectly legitimate goal for most people is to be comfortable and have security from small misfortunes; to have their needs secured. We all have that motivation (a modern biology-influenced argument would be that it’s an instinct in us to stockpile so that we can attract suitable mates and safely provide for our young) Some people, however, mistake the wealth and power (supplies and security) for the end-goal, and thus there can never be enough. Indeed, as you go further down that path, you begin to realize that you need more wealth and power to keep people from stealing your wealth and power once you have aggregated it.

      I believe it was Van Creveld who argued that one of the core motivations for the establishment of states was to allow feudal lords to better be able to amass wealth without the inherently limiting expense of defending that wealth from their peers. We see what is left of that in our instinctive tendency to want to gang up on someone who wins by too wide a margin, and to support the underdog. Epicurus says that a person who mistakes their objective as being power or wealth in and of themselves – there is no limit to their desires because their desires are unachievable.

    • gaiasrequite permalink
      8 November 2012 5:06 pm

      “a person who mistakes their objective as being power or wealth in and of themselves – there is no limit to their desires because their desires are unachievable.”

      I believe this gets to at least one core issue in our society. The wealthy are amassing wealth for no other reason then to amass wealth. And, in so doing, have left no room for goals to be established and worked toward. I have said to people often that it is only a matter of time before the people at the top of this ladder begin to feel the pinch of the recession, but, will they? We have a government ready to bail out those close to the top as soon as the waters of this tsunami reach that high.

      So I suppose this leaves me still with the question of “what is the goal” and apparently those who need to be thinking of the question are not. And those who have an answer we the people should be a tad fearful of.

      But, I am going to add another question now, that is perhaps easier to answer. Directly after Obama was named as the next president; a certain man with an infamous comb over, Mr. Donald Trump, goes on a rant about the people needing to assemble and march on the white house. Now according to stipulations to the law put into effect by some new legislation, this, I believe, is illegal. And I have heard of people being arrested for “revolutionary” speaking. Why did he not get arrested?

    • 8 November 2012 5:27 pm

      galiasrequite,

      As Chet so often says, inability to understand someone’s actions usually results from one’s orientation failure — an inability to see the world through the other’s eyes. For example, this is IMO clearly false, on many level:

      “The wealthy are amassing wealth for no other reason then to amass wealth. ”

      Think of this in terms of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (1943). The 1% have wealth, but seek more power over America and the world. That’s such a commonplace phenomenon in history that it should be the first theory considered.

      We can only guess as why they do so. “Why” is the most difficult of questions, for it requires us to do what we cannot: see into others’ minds and hearts. But we can guess, starting with listening to what they say about their goals.

      The politically active among the 1% say they are attempting to re-shape America. Some are on the Left; most are on the Right. I believe them. This is classic Maslow. The highest goals in his pyramid are self-actualization: morality/ideology/relision, projecting one’s vision onto the world.

      I don’t see any difficulty to understanding the goals of the 1%.

    • gaiasrequite permalink
      8 November 2012 6:03 pm

      I guess my difficulty in understanding comes exactly from my wanting to understand. In my interpretation I cannot see how obtaining wealth does any thing but give a number to a person. In my trying to reason what the goal is, I am also trying to understand how they are seeking to reach that goal with money alone. In this I mean, with out a large mass of people ready to do their bidding money is just numbers and space.

      So I suppose another question would be, do the 1% have a strong hold over the military? I realize their hold over the government, but is our military so well puppeteered by that government that they would be willing to enforce unjust laws over people in THIS country (I know they are perfectly comfortable doing it in others, I have heard first hand accounts)? I see the enlisted side of the military as rather uneducated puppets who are mostly enlisting because of a lack of ambition, laziness or stupidity (perhaps all three) but, I have had dealings only with a small percent of enlisted soldiers and there fore I may be a bit biased.

      From where I am sitting, if the 1% have extended their power over any portion of our military; we may as well sit back and enjoy the show because there is not much we would be able to do. Unless there are masses of citizens with garages full of drones out there.

    • 8 November 2012 6:21 pm

      gaiasrequite,

      “I guess my difficulty in understanding comes exactly from my wanting to understand. In my interpretation I cannot see how obtaining wealth does any thing but give a number to a person.”

      My guess (emphasis on guess) is that you are attempting to see by projection. As in What would I do if I were in the 1%?. That seldom works, because people have very different value systems.

      “In my trying to reason what the goal is. … to understand how they are seeking to reach that goal with money alone. … without a large mass of people ready to do their bidding, money is just numbers & space.”

      I agree, money is not everything. But it buys almost everything. Their success on Tuesday (and since 1980) shows that money is not “just numbers and space”. It’s power, the ability to change the world.

      “So I suppose another question would be, do the 1% have a strong hold over the military?”

      Why is that relevant? My guess is that this is an attempt to delegitimize their success. It’s a meme widely used on the *Right* to delegitimize *their* opponents, channeling their believers’ thoughts into purely fantasy oppression (FEMA’s concentration camps, UN blue helmet’s running America, mysterious black helocopters, etc).

      Look at what the 1% are doing: shaping our institutions and opinions, by creating a vanguard of believers — then empowering them via well-funded institutions and effective media distribution. Where in this is force used, or likely to be used? What aspects of this are illegitimate methods?

      If we choose to be sheep, there will be shepherds. How often do shepherds call in the military to control their sheep?

    • gaiasrequite permalink
      8 November 2012 6:47 pm

      I get your point. For every one person who is able to see through the subtle suggestions and tweaking of thought process, there are 50+ who do not see past it; and there fore become lethargically comfortable having their very identities shaped for them.

      And perhaps this is a trend that simply occurs because of the very nature that is human. I think people like to have their decisions made for them, so long as they have enough freedom to keep them selves distracted from the reality that they are not in charge of their own lives.

      It is really quite genius when you think about it. Most people with the deer caught in the head lights gaze on their faces cannot see it. Those who do or eventually come to see it are such a rarity, they cannot even with combined voices yell loud enough to wake the zombies up from a dream they find comfortable.

      Through this is the genius of this plan, keep them comfortable enough so as not to disturb their sleep; and while they sleep rob them of all they have yet are unaware of having.

      Slightly twisted, genius, but twisted. I guess the biggest issue I have with these ideas sinking into what seems to be my thick head, is that I have never desired power for I cannot see the value of lording over that which will inevitably be lost. Here in the mortal world it just does not seem to make much sense that one would ever gain, when you die you won’t take it with you.

      So I am back to laughing at the whole of it. People are ridiculous for the most part and I guess each of us has to reach this level of understanding on our own. Comfort can perhaps be drawn from this however, the 1% are further behind in life than those who realize the ridiculousness of their actions.

      So they are in a much more primitive state of being. Why is it that through out history it seems these are the people who end up in charge? I guess I have already answered that, they are to blind to see there power means nothing, and there fore are the ones who seek it.

      What a sad and seemingly never ending cycle of tyranny.

  4. Sera permalink
    8 November 2012 9:16 am

    Best (and most accurate) title for a blog post ever. I’ve often advocated that we should go back to the old procedure of installing the loser of the Presidential Election into the VP slot. Force the parties to work together ‘inside’ the executive branch, shoulder to shoulder (literally) for the entire term. Even more so because of this election, where the electorate seem to be so evenly divided. And when the electorate are not so evenly divided, we would still have a minority view on the inside (with a tie breaking vote in the senate). Would this help? If so, would the two (main) parties agree? They might agree, if for no other reason than to eliminate third parties.

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