One of Billy Joel’s famous songs is titled “Only the Good Die Young”. Last month, during the Thanksgiving Holiday, Steve Swander passed away, having suffered from mesothelioma; a form of cancer normally associated with asbestos. Steve truly was one of the good ones. He was a good friend, he was a good person and he certainly was a good fighter for First Amendment freedoms. Steve was the past President of the First Amendment Lawyers’ Association. Although he was always soft spoken and always had a kind word for others, his passion for freedom of speech and expression knew no bounds. On a personal note, we will miss Steve and on a professional note, those who believe in First Amendment rights and freedoms will miss Steve.
Since the re-election of President Barack Obama, we have been confronted numerous times by obvious supporters of Mitt Romney, claiming that Barack Obama bought the elections. In these discussions we have noticed that there is one common thread, which is that those who spout that belief also seem to watch Fox News. Now, it’s hard to understand whether this is the chicken or the egg. Has Fox News started this thought process, or is it just that those with this common thought process watch Fox News? It really doesn’t matter.
Shortly after his failed Presidential bid, Mitt Romney, in a less than magnanimous gesture, opined that the reason that he lost the election was that President Obama basically bought votes, especially the womens’ vote, the poor, blacks and Latinos. This now has become the same refrain that those who have engaged us in this conversation have uttered.
Anything can be looked upon in a number of ways. If President Obama bought these constituents’ votes by trying to fix the illegal immigration problem; by believing that all Americans should have affordable health care; by believing women should have cheap and accessible contraceptives and by believing that welfare and child care were in everybody’s best interest, then maybe he bought the election. But if this is buying an election, isn’t that what has been done throughout the history of this country and certainly, as long back as we can remember? Wasn’t it buying votes when George W. Bush lowered tax rates on the wealthy, thereby insuring untold amounts of money being donated by the wealthy to Republican campaigns? Wasn’t it buying votes on the backs of our soldiers when George W. Bush had us invade an Iraq that had nothing to do with 911, because down deep many Americans just wanted somehow to attack those Arabs and to show the world our might? Isn’t it buying votes to keep farm subsidies so that farmers don’t produce? Something that the Republicans would never attack, because that happens to be their solid constituency throughout the south and the plain states.
Wasn’t it buying votes when the icon of the Republican party, Ronald Reagan, disbanded countless federal agencies and countless federal programs to win the support of those who believe that health care, good education and mental health are not the minimum of what this country stands for? Isn’t it buying votes when senators and congressman keep on passing budgets that provide the defense industry with billions upon billions of dollars to produce weaponry that our top brass say are not needed? With each and every aircraft carrier, fighter plane, bomber or tank, comes jobs for some locale and a re-election for the politician that saves those jobs or create the new ones.
And isn’t the buying of votes to allow the ban on assault weapons to expire? After all, everyone needs a semi automatic assault rifle with a 30-round clip to shoot Bambi. Just ask the National Rifle Association with their inordinate political and financial clout.
In essence, our elections have always been fraught with politicians whose decisions appear to be buying votes by those who back the other side. However, in this case, there seems to be a difference. All those other times the buying of votes were ok, because they were the buying of votes of white Americans and especially white male Americans. But now, President Barack Obama’s policies favor those who are not male, who may have slanty eyes, dark skin, or speak with an accent.
These are not your grandfather’s new Americans; the ones that even if they spoke with a different accent and had different last names, still could blend in with a crowd and pass for real Americans. No, these are the new Americans that look a little different than the true Americans. These are the new Americans that speak a little different than the true Americans. No, these are the new Americans that don’t come from Europe, but come from South America and Asia.
Yes, it is one thing to cater to the new Americans who traditionally form a voting block and become politically powerful. It is another thing to cater to new Americans who are not from European ancestry and even if they change their last name, can’t get accepted in the country club.
This claim that Barack Obama bought himself the 2012 election has racist and prejudiced undertones. Obviously, all that believe this are not racist or prejudiced, but it is hard to mistake that it smacks of a loss of power by the traditional white male establishment and a refusal to acknowledge that the United States has changed and is changing. It is easier to blame the loss of power on an unsavory concept such as votes were bought, than it is to acknowledge that times they are a changing.
President Barack Obama won this election fair and square and in the same manner that all of his predecessors before him won. He catered to the electorate, he catered to the needs and he was rewarded with their votes. Anything but a true acknowledgment of that just happens to be un-American.
We have heard so many times that Barack Obama is going to ruin/destroy this country. These same people did not have those same feelings when George W. Bush took the largest surplus this country ever had and turned it into the largest deficit this country ever had, by the time he left office. That is because the economy really isn’t the issue, although it is a great subterfuge.
The real issue is color, race and heritage. Debt is acceptable if it’s for real Americans. But a deficit for these new folks is ruinous for the country. But again, the real issue is not even the economy. Obama will ruin this country because he symbolizes what to them is that the country is already ruined. Elections not controlled by white males. Latinos gaining political clout. More and more women in Congress. The next thing you know, there’ll be a black president. Oh the horror.