When my daughter was three weeks old I had the only bout of postpartum depression I ever had. It lasted less than an hour. I had just finished bathing and dressing her in the cutest little footie one-piece pajamas with a little frill around her softly padded bottom. She hadn’t yet grown into it, and it dwarfed her baby frame. As she laid there on the bed kicking those tiny legs and gurgling softly, I gazed at her, and gazing, was hit with a massive wave of regret. She was here, outside me, where she could no longer be protected as she had been in my womb. I took a long look back at history, and the long view forward to the future, and I did not like what I saw. Here was this girl child, who would grow up to be a woman in a country and world that changed rapidly and faced uncertainty. I thought of her alone, after I died, and wondered how she would make it. Tears streamed down my face until I was in a state of sobbing uncontrollably.
The helplessness and hopelessness that characterized that solitary hour then returned last night as I watched Mitt Romney give his concession speech. Thankfully, it lasted just about as long, and no tears came this time. I am stronger than I was at 23. I’m so grateful to whatever universal force granted me the power of an eternally resilient spirit. Though I wanted to call in sick, I managed to haul my butt out of bed at 6:30 this morning and make the 45 minutes drive to my 8:00 a.m. class, where I treated my students with the typical compassion and kindness that I always do. I am still me. The president cannot change that. Bush didn’t and Obama won’t. I do worry about the accumulation of all the damage they have caused and that Obama will continue to cause, and the work that will come with it, but I know that when the time comes I am up to the challenge.
I’m a realist. I don’t look for fantasy silver-linings and I don’t resort to hyperbole and blame. I have seen it all online since this thing ended last night: Hillary 2016 wishcasting, assertions that this is the end of U.S. elections, and plenty of blame to go around. I have only preliminarily surveyed the lay of the land in the aftermath, but it appears that Team Obama did what they needed to do, which was exceed their 2008 turnout numbers in targeted counties in swing states. Micro-targeting is an awfully cynical way to win an election, without a mandate to boot, but it apparently works with the help of social issues-hyping and appeals to identity. The coalition of the countable defeated the coalition of the accountable last night, but they know not yet what they have wrought. This game cannot last forever because it is bleeding what is necessary to sustain it, and that is people with good jobs, decent pay, and the work ethic to support the welfare state.
Before last night I had some hope the economy could begin turning around next year. I no longer think that will happen. Instead I expect it will continue its excruciating slow climb back, or it might be sunk further by the effects of our globalized markets. Gas and food prices surely won’t be going down, and wages will not climb. If anything, they will continue to erode, except for special protected classes, like the creative class and the union class. I had hoped to secure a full-time job by the end of this year or the beginning of next, but now I suspect I will have to continue my contract work and cobble together some additional income opportunities. Complicating this will be the new tax bill coming in 2014 that will come to so many suffering Americans like me who want to work full-time jobs but can’t find them. Our health care system will continue the decay that has already started as a result of Obamacare, and the consequences for certain constituencies will, no doubt, be unbearable. In short, Wall Street and the welfare class will continue to party on while the middle class continues to bear the brunt.
So here we are, facing four more years of uncertain economic times, and certain authoritarian social change. The Obama legacy was cemented last night, and the Democratic Party, and thus the nation, is that much further away from confronting its own ethical dilemmas. Climate change, too, got a big boost, and more authoritarian change will come with it. The age of George W. Bush continues. I don’t think anyone can blame Romney for how this turned out. He ran a good, honest race as a moderate Republican, and on budget. He represented real change, and was the ideal man for our pressing national issues. Half of America supported him, and half rejected him. There’s no shame in that for the half that gave the facts a good hard look and chose wisely. Half of Americans are still comfortable with denial, it appears.
The GOP, meanwhile, must continue its path of reforming itself. They have it right on fiscal issues, and now they need to address the social aspect of their agenda so they can ascend to implement that fiscal path. They also need a plan for how to fracture the coalition of the countable. The demographic games Democrats play are deadly and divisive. There are no two ways about that, and no way to work around it. As long as it is allowed to run its course we will grow further and further apart as a nation, and American values that we’ve long held dear, like our ideas about having a purpose that drives us to work and our affinity for liberty, will continue to erode. A house divided against itself cannot stand for long.
I’m not a believer in giving up or throwing in the towel. I didn’t that day so long ago when my spirit was suddenly and temporarily crushed beneath the weight of the wheel of fortune. I bucked myself up as is my way, and I raised that little girl to be the woman she is today. She is as bright and clear-headed, as filled with the wholesome values that still permeate America as I could have hoped that day some 19 years ago. While other girls in her age group chase after the illusory promises a decadent and degenerate culture has sold them, my girl refuses to join the herd, and resists offering herself up as a sacrifice to the status quo. She has purpose and vision for the future, and because she does, she gives me hope. I really need that today.
While I am not looking forward to it, I will be holding my last edition of This American Election tonight at 7:00 p.m. eastern time. Watch for an open thread later today at The Crawdad Hole. I’m not sure about my future with BlogTalkRadio. I do know that I will need a couple of weeks to regroup before I make that decision. And I do intend to keep blogging.