Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Post-Election Thoughts

1) Congratulations to Obama and his supporters. I won't say it was an honorable, well-fought race (because national races haven't been like that in decades, if ever) but the man with the most votes won. Cleanly. And decisively. At least this time there's no controversy.

2) However, for anyone to think he (or McCain, had he been elected) is going to now "unite the country behind a wave of bipartisanship and unity" is sadly mistaken. The United States is still almost equally divided between conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats. Looking back at the venom thrown back and forth between supporters of both candidates convinces me that it's going to take a lot more than this election to bring Americans into a unifying consensus.

3) The more rabid Obama supporters remind me of the giddy newlywed couple - all in each others' faces, in love, giggling, holding hands, continually kissing and generally making those around them a little nauseous. Guys, just FYI - the euphoria's going to fade, and fade soon. Be prepared for it, and be prepared when all your newlywed buddies don't continue to share your enthusiasm a few months down the road.

4) I was impressed with Obama's acceptance speech last night. That's the first time I've heard one of his speeches where he seemed to be speaking from the heart, and not just saying what people wanted to hear. If he'd done more like that over the campaign, he might have just swayed me.

5) I was also impressed with McCain's concession speech. I was horribly unimpressed with the people in the supporter crowd there in Arizona booing when he mentioned Obama and congratulated him. Grow up, people.

6) The popular vote wasn't as close as I thought it would be. The Electoral vote was about what I thought.

7) The biggest losers of the election cycle? The blogosphere. For an information and communication medium that purports to be a haven for free thinking, friendly, informative and factually-based expression of views and opinions, I never saw for one moment the portion of the 'sphere I inhabit give me any information I could trust. That goes for the rest of the internet as well, really, but the partisanship was so rampant, and the innuendo- and rumor-based blogging never produced any good, truthful, reliable, factual and defensible information that I could trust. On either candidate.

With very few exceptions, there were hardly any blog posts I read from either side that said to me, "This is information I can trust, or opinion based on facts that were either verifiable or recorded and accessible." One post would have a fact, and 15 people in the comments would refute it - often pointing to another post or "source" that proved otherwise. I would go to the other posts hoping for perspective and the comments on those posts would do the exact opposite. They'd prove equal and conflicting "facts" to support their own premise. Often, researching topics back to an original source revealed not much more than a rumor or obviously partisan site. I went back and forth on particular issues so many times, looking for information I could actually trust, it made my head spin.

Nothing was proved. Nothing was verified. Stories about Obama's past and McCain's connections were put out as fact, disproved, discounted, ridiculed, re-proven with new facts, those facts disproven, the facts disproving the facts reinterpreted to mean the opposite...

What it boiled down to was two groups of people who'd already made up their minds who were each bound and determined to use any means necessary - true or otherwise - to show their opponent in a bad light. It didn't matter if the story was true, only that they believed it. But the irony was each side had no hope of changing the others' position - it was just a battleground to show how smart and righteous each of them were. The ones caught in the middle, the truly undecideds and truth-seekers out there, were the ones that suffered under excessive pride, misinformation and deception.

Nothing was learned. No great truths were uncovered. Nobody came out of the process truly educated in the actual strengths and weaknesses of the candidates. We all lost, really. Obama may have been elected, and he may turn out to be a good or even a great president (I hope so!). But he was not elected by an informed populace and he was not elected by a populace that truly cared about making a decision that was for the good of the country.

And for me, it started and ended with the blogosphere. The people I trusted to help me make a good decision. I'm sad, disappointed and disillusioned.

8) When Bill Clinton was elected, he was given 8 years of hell from Republicans over health care, Bosnia, Monica Lewinsky, and just generally being a Democrat. Rush Limbaugh built a career out of bashing the President of the United States. In return for that treatment, as well as how he won the 2000 Election, the war in Iraq, the economy, and generally just being a Republican, the Democrats have given George W. Bush 8 years of hell. Will Republicans immediately begin their next salvo or retaliation for 4 or 8 more years against Obama for little more than him being a Democrat? Or will they man (and woman) up and break the cycle, try to work with him and keep the criticism to the levels a civilized, democratic society needs to be?

Doubt it. But we can hope.

9) LOCAL ELECTIONS - I'm surprised Charter Amendment 3 passed and 4 didn't, because I considered #4 the bigger no-brainer than #3. I've pontificated for years to all who would listen that several current county elected positions had no business being electable. Every year citizens of Knox County elected people to offices they have no idea what they do, nor is there any discernable difference in the people they elect. They were, and are, skill positions that require skill people to be hired (or appointed) for. Ah well, at least now we've trimmed the county commission down to a manageable level. The fewer members, the less chance for corruption and less chance that corruption will rise to a critical mass level. Those thinking one commissioner is not enough to represent his or her district, and still hold a full-time job, doesn't hold water. So good for that at least.

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