A week for the record books, you say? The October Surprise that shook a nation, minimized Halloween and reinforced climate change as the challenge of our lifetime was a new breed of superstorm. We all knew the tension would get thicker as November neared, but few of us were expecting flooded subways and scoured beach fronts, rising death tolls and neighborhoods burned to water-level. These events seem to happen too often these days, reminding us of other similar tragedies, but each disaster offers its own challenges and its own instruction. Still, as dreadful as they are, they bring out our innate sense of brother/sisterhood, our concern for one another in emergency. They stir us to compassion. They open our hearts.
This climate disaster, covered maniacally by everyone but FOX, rightfully absorbed our attention last week and distracted us from end-game campaign burn-out with shock and adrenal-overload. Newscasters of every ilk took turns wearing rain gear, getting pelted by debris in hurricane winds or knocked over into surging surf. You’ve evidently got to have a terrific immune system if you want to be a news anchor. These are the kinds of disasters we can’t look away from, even when painful to watch. It was, and most of us did.
Obama pulled back from his campaign, staying home to deal with the logistics of national emergency, while Romney used his time to dodge questions about his goal to privatize FEMA — a plan Krugman calls “pathological” — while making a stop for photo ops at an Ohio food bank with cans of soup, granola bars and diapers (hastily purchased by staff at a local Wal-Mart). Perhaps this is a preview of disaster policy under his lead, the kind of hit-or-miss private charity that cannot hope to provide for critical events. Frankly, with the wealth of Midas at his disposal, Mitt could afford to cut a check and never miss it. At least that would have been worthy of the photo.
With no good sense to speak of, former FEMA boss (and Katrina bungler) under George W., Michael ‘Heckuva Job Brownie’ Brown, scolded the president for premature action in advance of Sandy’s arrival. Obviously a FOX News devotee, Brownie wanted to know why Benghazi hadn’t gotten this kind of prompt attention, reflecting the “fair and balanced” network’s disinterest in covering the biggest disaster to hit the east coast in decades, focusing instead on exploring conspiracy theories. John McCain suggested that the Libyan cover-up was worse than Watergate, because in Nixon’s downfall, nobody died. The intensity of the speculation — closing in on mild hysteria — caused the CIA to issue a timeline disproving some of the right-wing allegations, hoping to drive a stake through the hype-bubble. Indeed, it took New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s shockingly non-partisan gratitude for Obama’s prompt action and cooperation in rendering emergency assistance to make FOX reluctantly change its conversation and take notice of the storm.
In hardest hit New Jersey, Christie announced that military trucks would be used as makeshift polling places in areas where regular voting spots were without power. Still, the number of people who aren’t currently mobile, who are either displaced or dispirited, up and down the Eastern seaboard, make a smooth election highly improbable. In a prudent political climate, we might have a conversation about postponing the election until electricity is restored and emergency relieved — we might even discuss the archaic wisdom of holding so critical a national vote on an inconvenient workday — but common sense rarely prevails in this country, especially when pitted against familiar traditions. Besides, all the 2013 calendars have gone to print.
Now all eyes shift to Ohio, where the few undecided votes are supposedly lurking, able to break what appears to be a virtual tie. Eric’s handling of the Ohio astrology doesn’t do much to calm our fears of unethical voting practice, does it? Still, this isn’t news. The Republican push to make voting harder for people of color and the poor has a history longer than my arm. It’s never the Democrats that want these supposed safeguards, pushing for a photo I.D. which — considering the cost and considerable inconvenience for some citizens — represents a voting tax, plain and simple. Hitting the issue from all sides, the Romney campaign has enlisted volunteers to be ‘poll watchers,’ complete with training sessions packed with misinformation. Romney’s ties to the infamous Ohio Republican machine run deep.
In 2004, my posts at Political Waves rarely failed to mention the easily-hackable Diebold machines, and that is still a concern in some states; in Ohio, the machines are manufactured by Hart Intercivic, a company with deep financial ties to the Romney family and fortune. And let’s not forget that Ohio was the state where John Kerry “lost” the race for president in 2004, or not, depending on who and what you believe. Let’s not get suckered again on this front, or on any other! Bookmark Mark Crispin Miller’s site for constant voting fraud updates.
Still and truly, with the exception of last minute positioning and getting out Tuesday’s vote, the presidential train has left the station and whatever we do now won’t hasten its arrival. With both parties portraying confidence that they will win and many congressional races too close to call, Obama’s last apparent hurdle — the October jobs report — shows a slight uptick in unemployment (semi-bad news) as the chronically jobless enter the job market, encouraged by a slow but steady increase in new jobs (semi-good news). Pundits say this all works in Obama’s favor. Despite Mitt’s commentary that the new job numbers are “sad,” there’s nothing dramatic enough there to derail the Dems’ head of steam. And despite the old saw about high unemployment numbers being an incumbent’s death knell — no president has had lower numbers since FDR — Obama still seems to enjoy a slight edge going to the polls.
Calling attention to the glaringly obvious but unspoken issue of climate change, Mike Bloomberg somewhat regretfully endorsed Obama. Citing one flip-flop after another, the Mayor betrayed his elitist cohorts on Wall Street by rejecting a Romney presidency, saying, “If the 1994 or 2003 version of Mitt Romney were running for president, I may well have voted for him because, like so many other independents, I have found the past four years to be, in a word, disappointing.” Pounding the moderate drum, Bloomberg then made a case for Obama’s cultural positions and respect for scientific reason, pushback at the radicalism of the Pub base and Mitt’s seeming inability to control it.
And Bloomberg wasn’t the only one that based an Obama endorsement on mistrust of Romney’s chameleon-like policy positions. On Romney’s home front, the Salt Lake Tribune told its readers that there are too many Mitts to select from, they’re better off voting Obama:
In considering which candidate to endorse, The Salt Lake Tribune editorial board had hoped that Romney would exhibit the same talents for organization, pragmatic problem solving and inspired leadership that he displayed here more than a decade ago. Instead, we have watched him morph into a friend of the far right, then tack toward the center with breathtaking aplomb. Through a pair of presidential debates, Romney’s domestic agenda remains bereft of detail and worthy of mistrust.
Therefore, our endorsement must go to the incumbent, a competent leader who, against tough odds, has guided the country through catastrophe and set a course that, while rocky, is pointing toward a brighter day. The president has earned a second term. Romney, in whatever guise, does not deserve a first.
So, this just in: those of us with respect for science and higher education, women’s rights, Social Security and Medicare — and even some of us without — will probably vote against Romney. Many of us will vote for Obama but most of us will do what’s required to prevent any further chance of the nation forced to endure the Ryan budget or the Romney shuffle. Even after all that Citizen’s United money — and it was considerable — the President has the edge.
When Obama went back on the stump Thursday in Wisconsin, he mentioned that in times like these, we aren’t Dems or Pubs, we’re Americans; and for just a while this week, that was true. On the ground in New York and Jersey, it’s probably still true — but on the airwaves, common cause and good will didn’t last long. And political as I am, if I had to choose between the way each of those definitions makes me feel, I’d have to come down on the side of inclusion. We’ve fought one another to a standstill, to no avail. I’m reminded of Obama’s 2004 convention speech about no red America or blue America. That was the concept that seized our imaginations then, and even if we can’t seem to make it work at this point in history, that’s still the concept that holds us for a second look, and a third. Our alignment as evolving humankind, in common cause with one another, is inevitable even as it seems so far out of reach.
Just because it takes extraordinary circumstances to strip away our differences long enough to notice our commonality doesn’t mean that at the very core of our humanity we don’t hold the same things precious, have common hopes and fears, care deeply for family, community and country. And just because those with dark intent holding this nation in thrall pit us against one another for their continued profit and power, doesn’t mean we don’t know, deep down, that we’re all in this together, facing problems too big to ignore. We must come together to recreate ourselves, or not at all.
We’re at the crux of that energetic experiment now, deep into polarization and suffering a kind of political desperation about this election that’s past toxic, and I, for one, could use a little elbow room from mean-spiritedness. A little less growing anxiety, a day or two without calamity or bitter political assaults, an evening without reports of small-minded gamesmanship or a collection of selfish, cynical sound bites. But there’s no rest for the weary in 2012, and I’m thinking I’d better find that internally, today and tomorrow — because next week will start out with a bang! And if the astrological projections are right, there won’t be a clear win or defeat to rest our bones on, a final outcome in which to relax in relief or, worst case, lick our wounds. And somehow, that feels right to me.
In 2004 this nation had a different understanding of itself. Some of us had gone ballistic over Bush’s first term, deeply aware for the first time in years of the effects of policies we found offensive and dangerous. We took a hard and careful look at everything going on in the political arena, and were dismayed. It was an unhappy voyage of discovery. And although there are enough long-range political scenarios afloat to qualify as conspiracies, real conspiracy is more likely in plain sight than hidden. We discovered that George Bush — essentially the Republican version of Barack Obama, a leader not acknowledged as legitimate — was a wee little man, canny but not bright, sunny but not serious, not evil as we thought but mundanely corrupt and greedy, pushed forward into the presidential arena by old ties and karmic loads. On the left, through a series of shocks to the system, we discovered our bottom lines, discerned our principles, dislodged outdated notions to shake our heads clearer than they’d been in decades. We rethought our conspiracies, let go of our mythologies and grew up a little.
The entirety of this presidential term has been about that in-between space, that not-quite sweet spot that we hoped for but never hit. Even as we anguished over what wasn’t done in Washington, what monkey wrenches obstructionists threw and which presidential powers became too entrenched, we began to see ourselves anew, began to outgrow our old definitions, breaking through the code of silence that does not allow the old paradigm citizens to see their government clearly. Even as we watched the political process come to a screeching halt, the polarity of our times carving itself into the congressional record, it was evident that many of us were seeing our governmental dysfunction for the first time. As we grew past our disappointments, we began to think, not about what needed to be done for us but what we had to do for ourselves if we were to survive into a new century. We began to step into our own power. We’ve come farther than we know.
Now it’s the Republicans’ turn to break themselves against their absolutes, renegotiate with a world no longer respectful of their big stick or their gruff voice, face down a growing population of non-white faces and non-traditional notions, a nation ready to reconfigure herself for a new age. Now it’s their turn and they’re not used to having to share a planet or a political scenario that doesn’t pay them proper respect. Should Obama win, and it’s likely, there will be backlash from this group, the ones unwilling to change their little picture of society for a larger view. Because we “went first” — giving ourselves time to integrate a world poised on Shift, a global hunger for democracy and a sudden awareness of all that stands in the way of that outcome — we should be emotionally and pragmatically prepared to handle the fallout.
There’s a tempo to these things, a continued period of instruction, and we can feel the energy sliding and shifting. No matter the outcome of this election, let’s remember that it’s AFTER November 6th that the REAL work begins: our careful consideration of the use of power, our intention as a nation and a global citizen, and the purposeful alignment with those who share our vision for a healed and peaceful future.
There are still too many questions without answers to know anything for sure. We don’t know who will win this election, what will happen in the Senate, how the Tea Party will take what looks like a coming rejection of their strident voice. We don’t know if the economy is really stable or if it’s still teetering on the edge, the plutocrats continuing to drain the nation like a ruthless vampire while the European market quivers like Jell-O.
But I know this for sure: we are in the midst of discovery, and everything about politics has changed. Things that were hidden in plain sight for decades are now plainly visible, like our inability to succeed in Afghanistan and the corrupt deeds of money in politics. What we turned our eyes away from for generations — sexual abuse in the military and the churches, gender intolerance and bullying in schools, narrow minded religious principles that seek to suffocate our authentic spiritual talents and wisdom — no longer makes us blink. What we refused to acknowledge in 2001 — unwelcome American interests and interference in the Mid-east — we now see clearly, no longer willing to ask ourselves so embarrassingly naive a question as, “Why did this (terror) happen?”
We’ve come so far, don’t doubt it. We are not here, in this place and time, by accident. We came to help move humanity up the evolutionary scale, to co-create a global rescue mission, to participate in a shift of paradigm. We came to love one another through the scratchy and scary and unloving energy that must be released before the Light can dawn. We came on a heart mission that no election results can stop, so take a deep breath and keep faith in what your intuition tells you. Next week, the fun REALLY begins!