Caveat: The Reign of the Straw Man

Obama has been re-elected. I think, despite my own failure to have voted for him, this was a foregone conclusion. I did a poll of my ISP7 class (formerly TP cohort) and they predicted that Obama would win without exception, regardless of whether they'd decided to support Obama or Romney in our recently-completed unit on the US election. So none of them were in that bubble who saw the race as close. It wasn't, at the end – not because Romney and Obama weren't neck-and-neck in the popular vote – they were – but because the Obama team had long-ago worked out the electoral math they needed (e.g. Ohio, Ohio, Ohio) and they'd worked their message in those states relentlessly.

So how do I feel about it?

I worry about the civil liberties issues – I think Obama's essential continuation of the Buchcheneyian post-9-11 imperial paradigm is disturbing. I worry about the still-too-aggressive foreign policy – especially the drones and Obama's alleged "kill list" and Guantanamo.

UrlWhat I'm definitively not worried about is "creeping socialism" or "Obama-as-dictator" or whatever bogeyman the pseudo-Randian right has gotten so worked up about – despite my own mumblings to the contrary. Obama's alleged socialism is essentially a straw-man that somehow took on a life of its own and has come back to terrify its creators. Obama is less socialist than your typical European right-winger, and less socialist than Nixon or Eisenhower.  I don't doubt the sincerity of those who believe in this straw-man – but I feel they're deluded at some level.

There were some interesting results in state-level elections. Most interesting to me was the reported fact that Puerto Rican voters approved statehood for PR. This doesn't mean, of course, that PR becomes a state: Congress would have to approve, and that seems unlikely as long as Congress is divided (House Republican and Senate Democrat). I have long thought that PR should try to change its status, although I've felt neutral about whether that should be toward statehood or independence. But the fact that the vote on the island has swung toward statehood is striking. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.