Tuesday, November 13, 2012
One of my favorite movie lines is in "The Great American Fourth Of July," by the same folks who brought us the classic "A Christmas Story." In the movie, the central kid is forced into a blind date by his parents, and makes it clear to the audience (narrated by the author, Jean Shepherd, both movies) he's not at all happy about it. Until he sees her, Miss Junior Corn Blossom, a beauty. So much so that at the movie he takes her to, he tries to put his arm around her. As she recoils in disgust, he realizes, with crushing force: " I am the blind date."
I bring this up because of the election. (Judy or I also bring it up, from time to time, in real life.) The subtle reader, one with rare insight, might have been able to discern, by careful reading, that I believed if Romney won, it'd signal the end of the world as we know it. A victory for dishonesty, for propaganda and deliberate misinformation; for a hate-filled, misogynist, antediluvian, troglodyte view of the world; for theocracy, for the end of education and science; for ceding the economic future to India and China; for policies that have failed in the past and would fail again. Only this time around, I argued, there might well not have been the reserves to allow another recovery. In a nutshell.
Which, if the list is different, is pretty much what teabaggers are saying now that Obama is reelected. "The takers" have won. Socialism. White people are screwed. They are, I assume, fully expecting to see the FEMA tanks and UN gays rounding up guns and shooting them with other guns.
Or, taking it down a notch, there are reasonable people fully as convinced that the election marks the end of America as I'd have been had the opposite result have occurred. Could it be? Am I the blind... date?
Well, no, actually.
In the movie, the girl really was a beauty, and the guy really was a doofus. (Or, as Grover Norquist might say, a "poopy-head.") Characterizing the election as about "takers versus makers" really is a falsehood. We really won't become a socialist country (or, at least, any more of one than we already are; and, in fact, since I'm predicting Obama will work to means-test or otherwise moderate Social Security and Medicare, we'll be less of one.) People will keep their guns and ammo. Allowing same-sex marriage will not diminish "traditional" marriage. The budget will become more balanced, not less. Immigrants will continue to dominate high school honor rolls, science contests, and spelling bees. It's really true that only one party has been willing to compromise. Congressional Democrats really did agree to spending cuts. Congressional Republicans really haven't agreed to any tax increases.
But, looking at it from whatever distance I can allow myself, it's pretty damn amazing to observe the ability of human brains to evaluate the same set of circumstances and come to polar opposite conclusions. It really does make you wonder whether there really is any such thing as objective reality.