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Poll results on the ESPN web site make no sense to me. An ESPN poll will ask a question like "Who will win tonight's game between the Phoenix Suns and the Memphis Grizzlies?", and a look at the results map will show that 92% of Arizona voters have gone for the Suns and 96% of Tennessee voters have gone for the Grizzlies. But the question didn't ask who the voters wanted to win, but who they thought would win. Apparently over ninety percent of the population, or at least of visitors, are optimists. I don't understand optimism. I never, ever, ever think anything good is going to happen.

A lot of the election postmortem has focused on the triumph of the statisticians over the pundits. In the former camp, Sam Wang projected that Barack Obama had over a 99% chance of re-election, and that Obama would take 51.1% of the major-party vote; as of this writing, it appears that he was off by all of 0.2%. His more famous colleague Nate Silver put Obama's final chances at 91%, and got every state correct — so much so that he gave Obama the nod in Florida with a 50.3% chance of victory there, and indeed Florida was the last state to be called. Meanwhile, conservative pundits and politicians uniformly predicted a triumph for Mitt Romney. Backing them up was nothing so unreliable as math, as David Brooks scoffed, "experts with fancy computer models are terrible at predicting human behavior." No, Romney would win because, as Peggy Noonan put it, "the vibrations are right." Put aside the poll numbers and instead look at "the anecdotal and intangible evidence," Karl Rove insisted, and you'll get "the sense that the odds favor Mr. Romney." Now, I believe in math; my belief in math is one of the main reasons I'm a progressive. Yet up until the swing states started being called in Obama's favor, I suspected that Noonan and Rove and George Will and Charles Krauthammer and Glenn Beck and Newt Gingrich and John Bolton and Steve Forbes and Michael Barone and Dean Chambers and even Dick Morris were right: that blue voters would flake, that red voters would turn out in massive numbers, that Obama-leaning undecideds would change their minds at the last moment. The difference is that what was wishful thinking on their part was a horrifying prospect to me.  And I believed it because it was a horrifying prospect.

I know that my pessimism is, partially, a defense mechanism. I say "partially" because I truly do believe in the First Noble Truth that existence is characterized primarily — not exclusively, but primarily — by suffering. But while I genuinely did anticipate a Romney victory Tuesday night, the main reason I did was that doing so was useful to me. I could have handled the map turning red because I was braced for it, and any surprises would be pleasant ones. This last point is why I cannot comprehend how optimists make it through life. To not only have to face the prospect of an administration whose policies you find abominable, but to not even have steeled yourself for it? For it to come as a surprise? How do you cope?

Pessimism isn't the only way I'm negativistic. I really, really, really wanted Obama to win the election, but not because I'm expecting great things from his second term. Quite the opposite: I'm very concerned that his first move will be to negotiate some sort of "grand bargain" that will poke gaping holes in our already inadequate safety net in exchange for tax increases that will be woefully insufficient. (Others on the left will point out that in the years since Obama took office, virtually nothing has been done about the climate or the banksters, while drone warfare rages on Over There, and there's little reason to expect any of this to change.) On the flip side, I figured that if I made it through eight years of George W. Bush, I could survive a Romney administration; I actually lived in Massachusetts for three years while Romney was governor and I was barely aware of his existence. Still, an Obama loss was excruciating for me to contemplate.  Why?  Because it would make bad people happy.

Yes, in part I'm talking about Mitt Romney himself; the idea of him smirking about the success of his constant brazen lying was not a pleasant one. And Ann Romney — imagine her smug in the knowledge that she and Mitt had in fact "given all you people need to know" in order to get elected. And Paul Ryan, gleefully drawing up plans to build a bridge back to 1931. I'm also talking about the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelsons of the world, billionaires dashing off eight-figure checks to Republican campaigns in order to stave off tiny tax increases that might see them paying similar amounts to help those in poverty… picture them chuckling about money well spent. Think of Rick Scott and Jon Husted and their counterparts in states both blue and red, trying any gambit they could find to stop people from voting, and their self-congratulation if those efforts had made up Romney's winning margin. Take the hate machine driven by Fox News, and Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh and their countless clones, and imagine that instead of resigning themselves to another four years of spitting venom at the government, they were excitedly taking up their former position that any criticism of the government constitutes treason. All of these are part of what I mean.

But mainly I'm talking about that (huge) segment of the Republican base that freaked the fuck out when Barack Obama was elected the first time, and spent the subsequent four years shrieking that he couldn't be the real president. Not because he was black, exactly: members of Team Nobama are quick to point out that they have their own blacks — Allen West, Herman Cain, Clarence Thomas, et al. — and that supporting these figures absolves them of racism. But West and Cain and Thomas don't represent the end of white privilege in the United States, any more than Elizabeth I represented the end of patriarchy in Britain.  Obama, by contrast, not only had what Silvio Berlusconi called "a good tan," but also made some mild remarks on the '08 campaign trail about how a more equitable distribution of wealth would not only be fairer but make for a stronger economy as a whole — remarks that, to this demographic, portended the upending of the social order. Though, really, Obama's election strongly suggested that that social order had already been upended, and that was something the "keep the change" crowd couldn't face. Some insisted that it had to be a result of massive vote fraud, or a conspiracy by foreign agents [1], and these people were rightly laughed at. But others on the right made a more compelling or at least less batshit argument. Obama's win in '08 was just a crazy fluke, they said. The economy had happened to collapse seven weeks before the election, and while (the argument continued) the fault lay with poor minorities stupidly buying houses they couldn't afford, the liberal media gulled enough dupes into blaming George Bush that any Democrat would have won. That didn't mean the American people wanted any changes in the social order.

The tension over whether this assertion was correct underlay many of the issues that came to prominence during the 2012 election season. For instance, many on the left had long argued that the movement to do away with abortion rights wasn't actually about reducing the number of abortions, and sure enough, this year Republican responses to questions about abortion kept toppling over into debates about birth control and rape. The subtext became text: No, you can't end an unwanted pregnancy. No, you will receive no help in preventing an unwanted pregnancy in the first place. Yes, that means that you can't have sex without running the risk of getting pregnant. Yes, if your natural sex drive (which, by the way, makes you a slut) therefore leads you to get married, have children, and give up your autonomy much earlier than you might like, that's a feature, not a bug, for that is your place in the social order. And by the way, no, just because electing to have sex guarantees pregnancy, you cannot therefore conclude that electing not to have sex guarantees no pregnancy. If you are raped and thereby become pregnant, then either deep down you did want it (slut) or else that's just the plan of a god whose plans are conveniently conveyed to you by us.

Taxes are another issue that comes up every election, but again, this year the Republican candidates and their boosters in the Fox News and AM radio empire took the implicit underpinnings of the tax debate and made them explicit. For quite a while I have been struck by how the bottom half of the Internet seems to see every single thing that happens in the news as a reflection of the American social order in crisis. That crisis is not that our country is pockmarked by bubbles of urban poverty and the social ills that come along with it. That's fine by the bottom-dwellers. They have some measure of privilege — if not actual affluence, then at least the knowledge that white skin saves them from being at the very bottom of the social totem pole — and since they don't want to feel guilty about it, they've convinced themselves that they deserve it. And a corollary to that is that the impoverished must deserve their deprivation. Maybe they lack our superior work ethic, or maybe they're just genetically inferior, but in any case, the real crisis is that the government is upending the social order by taxing the rich to provide services to the poor — i.e., giving those mongrels our stuff. Already they have refrigerators and color television sets! The astonished outrage from the likes of Stuart Varney was remarkable, predicated as it logically had to be upon the assumption that Those People are supposed to be poorer than that. Grinding poverty is their place.

And many aren't even that circumspect about it. They will come right out and say that what they as "conservatives" want to "conserve" is the traditional social order. They might not all go so far as to spell out that that means the subordination of women, and blacks, and immigrants and homosexuals and atheists and any number of other groups (or groups of Others), but when they cry "I want my country back!", the country they want back is the one with that social order. That country sucks, and they are bad people for wanting it. And since I am negativistic, when the election was called for Obama — because up to that point, I still felt things might go wrong, though when New Hampshire was called early for the blue team I started to worry less — I didn't click on the "Woohoo!" posts here on Daily Kos, and I didn't read the joyful messages from the gay people I know who live in one of the four states that either allowed them to marry or struck down initiatives that would forbid it, and I didn't celebrate the likelihood that in 2014 I will finally be able to trade up from my abysmally crappy Anthem health insurance. No, I went straight to Free Republic and Redstate and read dozens upon dozens of shellshocked posts by the bad people. It wasn't even schadenfreude — I just had to immerse myself in their laments to convince myself that, yes, they really were unhappy and it was safe for me to be relieved.

I didn't really know what to expect on the right-wing sites. It turns out that they seem to think that the government is being controlled from behind the scenes by evil mastermind Valerie Jarrett (seriously, Valerie Jarrett?), and that the national media is ignoring a massive scandal involving something called "Obamaphones." There were the expected cries of vote fraud, and calls for Texas to secede from the Union; many posts contained a vow to stock up on ammo. But mainly what I found was a mirror image of the posts that I and others on the left made in the wake of the '04 results. In 2000 it was easy to dismiss the election of George W. Bush as essentially an accident — a lot of people had Clinton fatigue, and with his "compassionate conservative" slogan, Bush passed himself off as the sort of unambitious caretaker president many were looking for… and he still lost the popular vote! Add the fact that he would have lost Florida if not for Theresa LePore's butterfly ballot, and it seemed like our main problem was that the electoral system didn't reflect the will of the majority [2]. But after the '04 results came in, it seemed more like we had a very different problem: that the electoral system did reflect the will of the majority and this was it. Voters knew exactly what kind of ongoing fiasco they were getting with Bush, and the majority had decided they liked it. Cue the jeremiads. Similarly, those who dismissed Obama's '08 win as a tragic accident found themselves having to confront a 2012 electorate that had decisively re-elected him. And since the election had explicitly been about the social order, the Freepers lamented in post after post, that meant that the social order they revered had explicitly been rejected, and their America was dead [3]. Now that's some negativism I can really get behind.

[1] As many have noted, it's a scheme brilliant in its simplicity! Step one: place a birth notice for a Kenyan baby in a Honolulu newspaper. Step two: wait 47 years for that baby to be elected president…

[2] Interestingly, this actually is Canada's main problem. First-past-the-post in a country with more than two major parties is lunacy.

[3] Dick Morris, who predicted a Romney landslide, explained on Wednesday that the reason he was so wrong was that he hadn't believed demographic changes would be as apparent in the 2012 election as they had been in 2008. "This is the new America," he said he had learned. "This isn't your father's America." Except my father is a dark-skinned Muslim immigrant, so it kind of is.

Originally posted to adamcadre on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 03:08 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I try to keep it simple: (7+ / 0-)

    Dems win = positive
    GOP loses = positive
    RW sites full of exploding heads = positive

    Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.
    ~ Jerry Garcia

    by DeadHead on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 03:20:49 PM PST

  •  Republicans call the Phoenix team "The Suns" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DeadHead, kpardue, Dave in Northridge

    yet use "Democrat Party".  They are proud of their ignorance, and you can't argue with documented crazy.

    I'm fed up, fired up, and ready to go.

    Sick of their shit, sick of their taking advantage of low information voters, we've done a shitty job of presenting what we stand for and that has got to change.

    And just wait until we field a candidate that doesn't have a "funny name" or some other bullshit "otherness" that we allowed to grab a toehold into the rightwing zeitgeist.

    To clarify, I believe Obama exemplifies the American dream, and we were Roved by everything he was: a scholar, an achiever, of a "non traditional" family.

    If his mom was still alive, Ann would have crushed all of this BS that this hero had to endure on his own.

    Have you hugged your Boeuf Bourguignon today?

    by wretchedhive on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 04:01:20 PM PST

    •  for once i would like the conversation to stop... (4+ / 0-) its tracks when a Republican refers to the Democratic Party as the 'Democrat' Party.  whether its a Democratic pundit, a show host or a Democratic politician.  just allow for a long pause. get a bewildered look from the Republican.  then explain that you are waiting for the Republican to correct himself on the name of our party.  demand respect for the name of our party.  it may seem petty to some but it's simply another level of disrespect from Republican's.  people on television and radio never refer to Republicans by anything other than the correct name.  i don't hear the 'Repubs', or the 'Publicans', or the 'Repelicans', or the 'Republican'ts'

      i respect the name of their party.  i expect the same if they want any respect from me.

      I'm a blue drop in a red bucket.

      by blue drop on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 02:11:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Just use an unflattering concatenation (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blue drop

        of their party name.

        For example, instead of "Republican Party," use:

        Repo Party
        Which is a lot more accurate a description of these assholes anyway.

        So it's advantages end-up being three fold:

        1) Accuracy
        2) Brevity
        3) Reciprocates insult.

        Such a deal!

        Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.
        ~ Jerry Garcia

        by DeadHead on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 02:29:05 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  On that note... (3+ / 0-)

        I would like to see our president, like them or not, referred
        to as President so and so, not as Jones, Smith or whatever
        her or his name might be.
        Dignity and Respect are seriously lacking in this supposedly great nation.
        THANK GOODNESS and sensible voters for the reelection of
        President Obama. And more thanks to all who worked to make it happen.

      •  I really really wish we'd do this (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        blue drop

        I am TOTALLY on-board with this idea. Don't insult them back, just stop the conversation dead.

        "Democrat Party" is a Luntz-ism that needs to stop.  We need to stop just accepting it whenever someone uses that around us.

        ... there is always an easy solution to every problem -- neat, plausible and wrong. - H. L. Mencken

        by renbear on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 08:12:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  You Nabob you . . . (2+ / 0-)

    I agree completely . . .

    Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

    by Deward Hastings on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 04:07:55 PM PST

  •  This right here: (6+ / 0-)
    The subtext became text: No, you can't end an unwanted pregnancy. No, you will receive no help in preventing an unwanted pregnancy in the first place. Yes, that means that you can't have sex without running the risk of getting pregnant. Yes, if your natural sex drive (which, by the way, makes you a slut) therefore leads you to get married, have children, and give up your autonomy much earlier than you might like, that's a feature, not a bug, for that is your place in the social order.
    ... is about as succinct an explanation as any I have seen.

    I'm not a pessimist but I'm no optimist, either. I do know that positive energy will often attract the same as will negative energy. So I try to be positive in my life. But when it comes to huge things like this, like elections, Frankenstorms and other things I have no real control over, I tend to be cautiously, pragmatically optimistic. Yes, it's a question of degree. But it keeps me sane.

    Thank your stars you're not that way/Turn your back and walk away/Don't even pause and ask them why/Turn around and say 'goodbye'/Just wish them well.....

    by Purple Priestess on Sun Nov 11, 2012 at 05:13:50 PM PST

  •  Is there a way to anti-rec things? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Dude stop being a debbie downer, and join the celebration.

    Life would be horrible if you weren't at least optimistic enough to believe that reality is what it appears to be, and that facts are real.

    In order for us to NOT predict an Obama win, we would have had to have jumped off wingnut cliff, and bought their bullshit about "skewing"

    We don't do that bro.

  •  Returning much later (4+ / 0-)

    To add a rec to my earlier tip.

    I've been called "negative" by family friends at various times in my life. It's a difficult mindset to shake off. I've always considered the line between "negativity" and "realism" to be a thin one.

    Pessimism, skepticism, and negativity are cousins, and they appear much more frequently in the minds of those of us who've had hopes dashed or hearts broken.

    So I can relate. Hopefully you can see, after your reflection here in this diary, that it's safe to feel good that things turned out as they did.

    It could've been alot worse.

    Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.
    ~ Jerry Garcia

    by DeadHead on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 12:05:22 AM PST

    •  me too, deadhead, and can you please (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      explain the difference between recs and tips? I'm kinda new at DKos.

      "Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom." -- Thomas Jefferson

      by pianogramma on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 06:13:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  A "rec" results from clicking on the "star" icon (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        pianogramma, renbear, DeadHead

        ..near the "diary" title. It indicates anything from "Me Likey" to "Should be Democratic canon"

        A "tip" results from clicking the recommend button beneath a comment which indicates anything from "I agree wholeheartedly" to "I just spit coffee on my keyboard and can't quit giggling."

        Still confused? Me too. I think it's genetic and part of the human condition..

        Maybe one day the Fourth Estate will take their jobs seriously. Or not..

        by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 06:59:18 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I'll add (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Recommending the diary kind of a vote of approval of the quality of the presentation/writing of the diary as a whole, though not necessarily agreement with it. People use rec's in different ways. Some rec diaries for the effort, regardless of agreement, others rec as saying "I agree," even if the diary is only a few sentences long.

        So it's a personal thing.

        But functionally, it contributes to how visible the diary may become, by nudging it closer to the "recommended" diary list at the right. You can change your mind and remove this "vote of approval," but after you change your mind, you can't change it again and "re-recommend." This prevents people from playing games with the recommending system by constantly manipulating it.

        Tipping the tip jar, which is just a type of comment, you can undo/redo to your hearts content... It affects the comment only. If you don't want to commit a rec to a diary, but still think the diarist deserves a "shout out" for their effort, tip their tip jar.

        This is getting long and I'm not sure you don't already know this stuff, so...

        Welcome, BTW... :-)

        Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.
        ~ Jerry Garcia

        by DeadHead on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 12:37:19 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  thanks :) /nt (0+ / 0-)

          "Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom." -- Thomas Jefferson

          by pianogramma on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 01:24:58 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  oh, and another question, if I may (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          when you rec a diary, does the rec automatically show up in the tip jar, but not vice versa?

          "Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom." -- Thomas Jefferson

          by pianogramma on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 01:27:54 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  No (0+ / 0-)

            They're two entirely separate things, and are independent of each other. A recommend at the diary level is a unique function. You can do one, the other, or both. If I recommend a diary I usually "tip" the tip jar as well.

            The interchangeable use of the terms "tipping" and "recommending" are probably adding to your confusion.

            Think of it this way, "tipping" is kind of Daily Kos "slang" for recommending a comment, of which the "tip jar" is a special, auto-generated "first comment" that's attached to each diary written.

            When you recommend at the diary level (which is, as I said, is distinct from comment recommending (aka tipping) ), that shows up in the list to the right called "diary recommended by."

            You may need to click the little plus next to it to "expand" the list. It will show the usernames of all those who recommended the diary. Your username will be there somewhere if you've recommended the diary. It can get rather big, so I usually keep it shrunk.

            Believe it or not, there actually used to be a functional FAQ here, but the link seems broken. I'll see if I can track down some links for you that might help. May take a little while.

            Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.
            ~ Jerry Garcia

            by DeadHead on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 02:12:30 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  thank you so much! (0+ / 0-)

              This wasn't at all clear to me from my rec'd diaries. Couldn't access DKos FAQ. Figured out how to see the expanded lists of who tipped and who rec'd, but never understood how they connected, or didn't.

              Since I joined DKos, I've been doing a lot of rec's and no tips. Have to rethink this now!

              If you do track down a functional FAQ link or links, maybe you could post it where more people will find it?

              Thanks again :)

              "Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom." -- Thomas Jefferson

              by pianogramma on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 02:42:34 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  The blacks in the GOP are Toms, tokens and... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave in Northridge

    ...Stepin Fetchits.

    Grinning minstrels doing a song and dance act for their masters, selling out their own people in the process.

    You will notice their designated dancing performers are allowed a limited time on center stage before they are usually shunted back to the kitchen.

    Even nominally qualified people like Colin Powell and Condi Rice are always shoved backstage by the GOP after they serve their PR usefulness.

    The GOP is like the Duke Bros.: You don't seriously think they would hire a (N) to run their family business, do you?

    Of course not. Neither do I.

  •  Recommended to counter the dishonest (6+ / 0-)

    bleating claim that "optimism good, pessimism bad", common among magical thinkers and also recently promoted by kos himself.

    The idea that optimism is always the right thing is precisely what caused the bubble of reality-denying that the right was living in, and was exactly what caused them to have this huge meltdown of incredulity at the election results.

    The last thing we on the left should be insisting on is that we become just like them and do that very same thing ourselves.  

    If you see someone saying a thing you think is incorrect and depressing, there are two approaches to how to respond to it:

    1 - Attack it on the grounds that you claim it's incorrect.
    2 - Attack it on the grounds that it's pessimistic and therefore you're helping make it happen by mentioning it.

    Only #1 is an honest acceptable attack to make.  I will reject wholeheartedly any attempt to make #2 into an acceptable attack.  

    If we start to see #2 as an acceptable attack, we will begin living in a bubble just like the right have been.

  •  Negativism isn't thoroughly inappropriate here (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DeadHead, pianogramma

    Reading this I was reminded of the chorus from a song by the Offspring that's VERY much not about politics or applicable to this but here it is:

    The more you suffer
    The more it shows you really care
    Right? Yeah yeah yeah
    The thing is that if you've lived through elections like 1994 and 2010 you KNOW how fickle the American electorate can be. Besides, there's absolutely nothing wrong with objecting to the caution of a President who's governing far enough to the right of you that he invited Rick Fucking Warren to pray at his first inauguration.

    But now the sun is shining, and your negativism can be your defense any time Obama thinks he's still in his first term and has to make the center happy so he'll be reelected.

    -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 07:23:00 AM PST

  •  You want negativism? (0+ / 0-)

    I keep thinking:
    They'll find a way to invalidate the vote.
    Williard will just go on tv and start reading an acceptance speech pushing the whole process aside and just taking the office for himself, much like W did.
    President Obama will start reading a concession speak, the skies will go dark, time will move back to Nov. 6th 2012, and we'll all realize his win was a product of collective wish-fulfillment...and then Williard will start in with his incipid speech.

    Now playing: "Better."

    by Dardezael on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 07:32:50 AM PST

  •  maybe the real problem (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DeadHead, pianogramma, chantedor

    is cynicism???

    All this anti-negativism stuff sounds a bit too much like Oprah for my tastes.  It's also a way to avoid looking at institutions and structures, so things like institutional racism or the infrastructures that support inequality can be easily ignored and happy pictures with simplistic individualized explanations for the world derived and distributed for mass consumption.

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Mon Nov 12, 2012 at 09:08:36 AM PST

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