Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Four More Years

All right, it's been two weeks since I stayed up 'til sunrise and watched the results of the 2012 presidential election roll in.  I'm finally in suitable headspace to sit down and write about it.  Tomorrow's Thanksgiving after all.

Rome is six hours ahead of EST, which meant we couldn't expect to hear America's final decision until about six in the morning.  Heather and I had decided a long time ago that we weren't going to sleep until it was announced.  If we were going to face four to eight years with the free world being lead by a sock puppet for the Tea Party, we wanted to hear the bad news while we were still awake and drunk.  The thought of waking up to a Facebook newsfeed full of defeat and despair was more than we could bear.

I prepared for the night by finding and streaming the uncut version of I Spit On Your Grave, aka Day of the WomanI Spit On Your Grave is a 1978 grindhouse flick that tells the story of a young female writer who's brutally raped by a gang of rednecks.  After she recovers, she proceeds to cut, chop, break, and burn each one of them beyond recognition.  It's been banned in half a dozen countries, and remains tied with Cannibal Holocaust as arguably the most horrifically upsetting movie ever made.  I've put off watching it my entire life,  but I subjected myself to it on election night, the better to understand the literal and figurative rapes dismissed so casually by Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock.  Also, given the fickle nature of the American electorate, I wanted to already be in a state of shock if the Republicans managed to take back the White House.

As our friends and I sat around my laptop watching whatever live streaming we could find, I repeatedly mixed an old cocktail favorite of mine called a Pearl Harbor.  It consists of one part Midori, one part vodka, pineapple juice, and a cherry.  Those ingredients don't come cheaply in Rome, but this was a special occasion.  Besides, it seemed a fitting drink, since if Obama lost we'd be on the verge of a national disaster.  When the victory balloons fell on his campaigners at around 6:30 am, I was on my sixth or seventh.

It isn't easy being an American liberal these days, because you know that the other side is much more organized, and much more active.  More often than not, when you root for a candidate, it's not because of the changes you believe he'll actually make, but because of the changes you don't want his opponent to make.  In that sense, this election is a victory.  Thousands of people who are now insured for the first time in their lives won't have their healthcare snatched away.  No Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.  No state-sponsored bigotry in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington.  No bullshit war with Iran.  No more tax cuts for billionaires.  No new anti-choice Supreme Court justices.  No additional trillions being thrown at an already bloated defense budget.  And let's not forget, every misogynistic old codger who shot his mouth off about lady parts failed miserably.

But I think we also deserve a little self-congratulation.  Despite the fact that the Republicans blocked every motion Obama made to facilitate our economic recovery, doing everything they possibly could to make him look like a loser, the American people still thought he was worth another four years.  Despite the confirmed incidents of voter applications being thrown away, the state laws passed to disenfranchise black voters, and Paul Ryan having his hands in the company that manufactures voting machines in key swing states, Obama still scored a majority of votes in the popular election.  The real victory here, I hope, will be a lesson learned by politicians on both sides.  If the ensuing press coverage is any indication, the Republicans are learning that narrowing their demographic to a fundamentalist, xenophobic, anti-intellectual bunch of rubes will ultimately lead to their party's collapse.  The president, meanwhile, is four years wiser, and has a better idea of how to handle the opposition.  Hopefully he's learned that the bipartisanship he's been striving for since he took office is never going to happen, and that playing the moderate isn't going to win him any new friends.

And hey, legal weed in two states!  Shit, I didn't even ask for that!

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