Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Election 2012, final thoughts

In my last post I mentioned my disappointment in the decrease in votes cast in the 2012 presidential election as compared to 2008.  Much was made on the Republican side by those who pointed to nominee Romney receiving about 3 million votes less than McCain in 2008, but I didn't see much talk concerning the drop of almost three times that number for President Obama as compared to 2008.  Clearly neither candidate was able to excite his base enough to prevent this drop in cast votes.

Or was it the huge sums of money spent on negative ads. 

I saw an interesting talk show which asked the question, did the billionaires get took?  In other words, were all those extremely wealthy people who shelled out millions of dollars for Romney, ripped off?  The panelists seemed to start from the position that BIG money was a BIG loser in this election cycle, and that all those super PACS threw their monies into bottomless pits.  Personally, I would eagerly like to think that was true, and that this type of free spending will not occur in subsequent elections.  However, what if the constant barrage of negative ads did effect the election, not in terms of the outcome, but in terms of keeping people at home last Tuesday.  Perhaps all that money convinced millions of would be voters that the choice between the lesser of two evils as described by all those nasty ads, wasn't worth the effort.  Perhaps BIG money won, and democracy, individual involvement in our political system,  choosing the best man for the job (as opposed to the least horrible), and in the end, the American electorate, were the losers.  Even worse, one panelist reminded the rest that this was the first presidential election since the Supreme Court ruling regarding Citizens United, and that the various super PACS on both sides will learn from their mistakes and do a better job of targeting their ad content to the appropriate audience.  UGH!!

The good news, in addition to the possible interpretation that BIG money was a loser in this election, my above comments not withstanding, is that freedom was a winner last week.

What, you say?  Americans have more freedom today than they did before the election?  Well, if you live in one of the three states that legalized gay marriage, you now have the freedom to marry whom you choose.  For those of you who truly believe that being married is an important factor in one's pursuit of happiness, then granting this right to the gay community in those specific states, by popular vote, is an amazing achievement.  And, when the people of another half dozen states do the same in the next four to six years, many will look back upon this election as an important milestone in the ongoing battle to walk the walk and talk the talk when it comes to true freedom in America.  If I were inclined to make a prediction, I would expect that same gender marriage will be legal in a majority of states by the year 2024.

Another interesting freedom issue was the legalization of marijuana posssession (under an ounce, I believe) in two states, again by popular vote.  While this movement has far less momentum than the battle to legalize gay marriage, it is a personal freedom issue nonetheless.  While I expect a much slower process as compared to the gay marriage issue, I can see another ten states following Colorado and Washington in the next decade.

It is kind of surreal to think that so many opponents of President Obama in specific, and the liberal viewpoint in general, believe their opposition is representative of the movement to preserve freedom in America.  I especially see it in the gun rights advocates who are already, just one week after the election, breaking out the same tired old, false stories about how the president is going to take away "our" guns.  I generally do not engage in debate on this issue unless I know the person more than as just an aquaintence as some, not all or most, but some, are extremely intense about their right to own guns.  But to those who repeat the oft stated response to gun control, "they can have my gun when they take it from my cold, dead fingers" I ask the following question.  Who exactly, are you expecting to take your guns from you?  The local police?  Your state's national guard?  The army?  I guess my point is, for those who believe they will be shooting at and fighting the "bad" guys, you might want to remember that those bad guys will be the cop who lives down the street, the guy at work who goes away a few times a year for Guard service, your neighbors' kid, or your child's friends who enlist in the military.  We the people, remember?  I often wonder if they think it will be a mob of zombies that comes for their guns so that shooting them won't be any big deal.

I also see it in the religion based freedom lovers who are all about denying the freedom of those who do not believe in their religion or their god.  Again, it is not all or most of them.  But the minority is vocal and has some powerful allies, both in terms of money and clout.  Abortion and other forms of birth control are against your religion?  Wonderful.  Be true to your beliefs.  Don't engage in these activities.  But to insist that I follow the same rules, violates the very principle you advocate.  My freedom to choose might result in a decision different from yours; that is what makes freedom so beautiful, and so complicated.

Finally, with all this talk of freedom, it is incredibly important that we remember that the more freedom we attain, the more responsibility we incur.  Frankly, I am not nearly as worried about how much freedom we have as I do about how much responsibility we are taking to preserve, protect and respect that freedom.  As mentioned above, we voted in lower percentages this presidential election cycle than last.  While I would like to see a much longer period to vote, say a full weekend, it is still a sad commentary that so many American adults pissed on their freedom to vote last week. 

Your right to do as you please, only extends to the point where it infringes on the right of your neighbor to do the same.  Your responsibility is to protect and preserve both the freedoms and rights that you seek and cherish as well as those freedoms and rights that differ from your own.  


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