Election 2012

Situation Lousy, Don't Change a Thing

Voters may say they want forward-looking reforms, but they consistently vote otherwise.

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Republicans are mystified that in a nation they know as fundamentally conservative, a president they regard as deeply radical has been re-elected. But Americans didn't vote for Barack Obama because they are liberal. They voted for him because they are conservative.

Not conservative as defined by modern Republicans but as defined by the dictionary: "disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change."

This election changed as little as possible. The presidency, the House of Representatives and the Senate stayed in the same hands as before. Gridlock and stalemate were given a new lease. Americans may claim to be sick of the spectacle in Washington, but they signed up for another four years of the same.

It's not what you would have expected if you took the pronouncements of the candidates at face value. They were all about ambitious transformation.

"This is a big day for big change," said Mitt Romney on Election Day. It was an echo of what Obama said four years ago and what the president said Monday night at a rally in Des Moines: "This is where our movement for change began."

Has any candidate ever been elected president promising to block change? To keep things just the way they are? To leave every stone unturned? Not that I can recall. It would be like a cereal box with the message: old and unimproved.

Americans demand progress, and they expect their leaders to bring it about. As Ronald Reagan knew, a candidate can never go wrong quoting the revolutionary pamphleteer Tom Paine: "We have it in our power to begin the world over again."

Romney's defeat, however, should confirm that this desire for change is less than it's cracked up to be. Voters may say they want forward-looking reforms, but they consistently vote for keeping the status quo or reverting to the past.

Since 1980, only one president running for re-election has lost. That was George H.W. Bush—who went along with a major change he had opposed in promising "no new taxes." In every other case, even in the middle of the Iraq debacle, voters have chosen the devil they know over the devil they don't.

They had the same basic preservationist impulse even in 2008, when "change we can believe in" was the Obama mantra. His opponent, John McCain, offered himself as a daring maverick with no tolerance for standing pat.

In fact, they were both selling nostalgia. Obama hearkened back to the peace, prosperity and fiscal balance the nation enjoyed before George W. Bush. McCain ceaselessly evoked the Reagan era.

Our aversion to doing anything truly different is often a source of trouble. We are attached to long-established tax and spending priorities that have created a huge gap between income and outgo. We preserve entitlements built on the thinking of the 1930s and 1960s. We insist on keeping military commitments we made half a century ago, oblivious to new circumstances.

Obama deferred to our conservative inclination when he rolled out the best advocate for his retention: Bill Clinton. The implicit message was that Obama could restore the Eden we inhabited in the 1990s. Clinton, of course, was ferociously controversial in office, but his approval rating is now 69 percent—higher than it ever was during his presidency.

Romney spent the latter part of the race minimizing his differences with Obama. He said he would repeal Obamacare—except, you know, all the appealing parts. He faulted the president's Iran policy but couldn't really explain how his would be different. He was moderate with an M, as in mushy.

He did pick a running mate who seemed willing to shake things up. Paul Ryan has a budget plan that would downsize the federal government and overhaul Medicare. But Ryan was not allowed to barnstorm the country on behalf of that plan. He spent his time talking about the need to restore the economy to the way it used to be.

Even the tea party hero was keen on reassuring those worried that he would turn things upside down. When it came to seniors who cherish Medicare as it is, Ryan always stressed, "What we're saying is no changes for anybody 55 and above."

Most Americans didn't vote for Ryan. They did, however, vote in favor of no changes for anyone 55 and above—or anyone under.

NEXT: Kenyan Mom Names Twins Barack Obama, Mitt Romney

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  1. Of course they were selling nostalgia. The government model as we know it ended in 2008 with the crash. Everything we have done since then is just delay the inevitable. To quote the movie, the people in this country can’t handle the truth.

    1. “In my country, truth handles you!”

      I can’t wait until the real collapse happens, so I can annoy people with that gem.

      1. My wife’s cousin and his wife live in NOVA. They are your classic uptight, white suburban liberals. They annoy the hell out of me. He works for the Air Force. Is it really bad I am praying for sequestration so he gets RIFed? That is just mean of me. But I know they voted for Obama and my sense of justice would like to see someone actually bear a consequence for their vote.

        1. Statists aren’t liberal.

          We are.

          Don’t help demagogues debase the language. Re-read 1984.

          1. Orwell was a “statist” and a socialist to boot. You need to stop debasing the language by claiming that anything besides a minarchic utopia is the same as authoritarian tyranny.

            1. Yeah, I remember Orwell licking the boot of authoritarianism in “1984” and “Animal Farm”.

              The fuck?1?

              1. T o n y quite literally reads what he wants to see. I’ve seen a few enough threads of him getting just destroyed intellectually, and his brain just reorganizing statements to absolve himself of contradiction.

        2. I’m pulling for sequestration because I think it will be the only chance to see any significant cut in govt spending.

          1. I am kind of with you this. And it would also raise everyone’s taxes. These fuckers want to vote for big government, make them pay for it. I really can’t see a downside to it. We have to do something.

            1. These fuckers want to vote for big government, make them pay for it.

              The problem with this is I have to pay for it as well.

              1. We are stuck paying for it anyway. We might as well make the people who want it pay too.

                1. Most of the people who want it won’t bear enough of the costs themselves to learn anything from it.

              2. I’m obviously not a fan of the tax increases portion, but my understanding is that is repeals all the Bush tax cuts, not just the top marginal bracket. If we’re going to have tax increases, I want the lowest brackets to pony the fuck up. These leeches have been free-riding too long and GWB made the tactical mistake of thinking they’d love him if he cut their taxes too.

                If the reckoning is gonna come, I want the scum that put this clown suit in office to feel the pain as bad as anyone else.

            2. But…but….we meant increases in other people’s taxes!!

              /Obama voters

        3. He works for the Air Force. Is it really bad I am praying for sequestration so he gets RIFed?

          If he works for the federal bureaucracy (assuming he does based on your phrasing), he won’t get RIFed. The bureaucracies won’t bear any of the consequences of the sequestration cuts*. They’ll instead demand that the various contractors reduce costs instead. My wife works for Lockheed Martin Space Systems, and yesterday there was an email from corporate saying that the Space Systems LOB alone could face as many as 5,000 layoffs due to the “fiscal cliff” sequestration cuts.

          *they may lay off a few low level functionaries, reduce their janitorial staff, etc. but none of the “big boys” in upper level management will be touched.

          1. I don’t know. The problem is that he is not a vet. Most people who work over there are vets and they go to the back of the line for RIF. If you work for the Pentagon and you are not a VET, you should be very worried about sequestration.

            His case aside, sequestration is going to bomb NOVA’s economy. I can’t believe they voted for Obama.

            1. I’m no longer suprised by the stupidity of the average person anymore. I had very little faith left in humanity before, and it’s pretty much gone now. Nothing to do but stock up on non-perishable food, potable drinking water, and ammo.

  2. What do you mean only one incumbent lost.

    What about McCain? Wasn’t he Bush’s third term?

    1. This Obama guy is really going to change things.

      1. Hey, at least he’s not Bush. Unlike the other guy.

    2. Bush’s third term was going to win either way in 2008.

      1. Bush’s third term was going to win either way in 2008.

        And it seems his policies won in 2012 as well.

  3. The always eloquent George Carlin:

    “The public sucks, fuck hope.”

  4. Wow a Chapman piece that isn’t terrible!

    1. The election is over. He doesn’t have to support the team anymore.

    2. I was just thinking the same thing. Where was all this before the election?

  5. “Since 1980, only one president running for re-election has lost. That was George H.W. Bush?who went along with a major change he had opposed in promising “no new taxes.” In every other case, even in the middle of the Iraq debacle, voters have chosen the devil they know over the devil they don’t.”

    Actually it goes back much further than that.

    Since 1900 here are the sitting presidents who failed to win reelection…

    Bush
    Carter
    Ford*
    Hoover
    Taft

    Ford however is a special case as he is the only man ever to be President without ever winning a national election at any level (not even as Vice President) and he replaced a VP who resigned in disgrace and then a President who resigned in disgrace meaning he had essentially no chance at reelection and realistically should only be considered incumbent in name, he got no advantage out of the position.

    Subtracting out the 5 elections where the incumbent did not run (either because of choice or his ineligibility) and you have 4 out of 23 elections where the incumbent did not win reelection and in one of those elections (Taft) it was because he faced a rebellion in his party by a former sitting president (Roosevelt) forming a significant 3rd party and splitting their combined vote between them.

    Basically in the last century Americans have reelected the incumbent at higher than an 80% rate.

    1. Another interesting fact…

      Between 1800 and 1900 we had 23 men in the Oval Office

      Betweem 1900 and 2000 we had 17

      Same number of years, same number of elections and the 20th century even had the edge by 1 in cases of the VP assuming the office (5 to 4) but saw 25% fewer faces being elected.

      Now why this has been happening is uncertain, maybe greater mass media has been giving the incumbent steadily greater advantages, maybe the people really do want to turn the Presidency into some form of temporary kingship, maybe it is something else but it is clear that the American public will except in extreme cases always elect the incumbent.

    2. Although Truman and LBJ got out of their respective races rather than lose. I know you’ve allowed for those in your second para, but it seems to me these should, in some way, count against incumbents who did not get re-elected.

      1. Yes but even adding those 2 elections into the equation would change it from incumbents winning 83% of the time to incumbents winning 77% of the time and doesn’t really impact my point.

        Alwo while I agree that Johnson would have lost had he ran, and may well have lost his primary, it is not so certain that the inevitability of his defeat was the primary motivation for his decision not to run, there is also the fact that he was in very poor health and did not think that he would live through another term in office.

        In Truemans case I am not really sure what the facts on why he chose not to run or how high the certainty was that he would lose to Eisenhower were

        1. Fair enough.

          It’s been awhile since I read the Truman account but I think it was linked to the Korean War & his argument with Macarthur. Plus, he’d served almost two full terms.

      2. Some suspect LBJ got out because he knew he was sick and would not survive another term. OTOH, had FDR not died, how many more terms would he have won?

        1. FDR is probably the single most responsible person for the downfall of the USA experiment.

  6. May I remind everyone that the people did not speak with one voice. A plurality voted to keep the same president, a great number of others did not. The nation as a whole didn’t vote for the House to remain in GOP hands and the Senate for the Democrats. They voted for their individual representatives.

    1. That must be why the approval rating for Congress is under 15%.

      1. Actually–and it pains me more than you can know to say this–you’re both right. FoE is correct that people vote for their individual representatives, and you’re right that that’s the only one they approve of.

        I need to go take a shower now, agreeing with both of you has made me filthy.

        1. My reps are Richard Neal, John Kerry, and (now) Elizabeth Warren. This is why I don’t vote anymore.

          1. A choice of which I approve. You can decide to not be a Masshole, like Neo choosing not to be a spoon. Do you see?

            1. It will be another year or two before it becomes economically feasible.

    2. NO YOU MAY NOT.

      People aren’t individuals, they are merely part of a collective. Like ants. When you understand that, you will be free. Of choice.

      1. Freedom of choice
        Is what you got
        Freedom from choice
        Is what you want

        1. In ancient Rome, there was a poem
          About a dog, who found two bones
          He picked at one
          He licked the other
          He went in circles
          ‘Til he dropped dead

          1. Fuck you. Devo quotes are my thing. You hear me? MY FUCKING THING!

            1. Be stiff, Warty.

              1. Go jerk back ‘n’ forth, dipshit.

        2. Which freedom would you rather have?

          This one?

          Or this one?

  7. Romney could not define what he would do differently. For all his supposed business acumen he could not articulate a jobs plan that was not just a tax cut in reality (of course Obama couldn’t either).

    1. Romney could not define what he would do differently.

      That is because for all practical purposes, he was no different that Obama.

    2. Its hard to say what you will do different from your opponent, when your opponent won’t say what he plans to do at all. Except, perhaps, “raise” taxes on “the rich”.

      1. Obama has no clue what to do. He knows he is going to let his nutty supporters go crazy at EPA and such. But beyond that he has no idea. It is going to be great watching him squirm as the debt crises gets worse and worse. You watch, he will strike some short term deal to avoid sequestration. Then next summer when we are in another recession he will have to go back to the table with Congress trying to get the debt ceiling raised. He is so fucked.

        1. What does he care? He’s rich and all the historians that matter will write that he was a great president.

          1. He doesn’t. But he has to interrupt his golf game to do his job once in a while. And that tends to piss him off.

          2. If his second term turns out too bad, historians will just pretend it didn’t happen and not write about it the way the did with FDR’s second term.

            1. Bullshit. They’ll write about how racist obstructionist Neoconfederates blocked the transformational agenda of the greatest visionary to ever lead us, and how the country wasn’t worthy of him.

              1. ^THIS^, unfortunately.

          3. historians that matter seems highly subjective.

            i think a better metric of that title is who will actually record history, not who is trendy at the current moment.

            there is no way ppl who support obamas policies will be on the side of history’s winners. its bad idea and rewards of its own nature. its unavoidable like the sun rising.

      2. What was Romney’s jobs plan?

        He didn’t have one. Yes, I read his Five Point plan and it was no different than what is in place now. He just repeated right-wing lies that Obama would not let us drill for O&G here.

        1. An exaggeration, but not a lie.

          1. Drilling is up 300% here under Obama. He did temporarily block ultra deep water drilling in the GOM after the BP disaster which affected about 3 of the 2000 rigs in operation at the time.

            1. Where is here? He also cancelled lease sales in the GOM.

            2. That is all lies. Do you ever tell the truth Shkeek? God you are lying sack of shit.

        2. What was Romney’s jobs plan?

          He didn’t have one.

          I actually found that appealing.

        3. Not continuing to break shit is an improvement over whacking it with a sledgehammer.

    3. I believe he did talk on multiple occasions about repealing provisions of Dodd-Frank. And to be quite honest, more than any single policy enacted by Obama, Dodd-Frank is the one that is the most suffocating to the U.S. economy.

        1. Among the better critiques I’ve found thus far.

          But one of the most onerous aspects of DoddFrank is that, while the bill is entirely written, the regulatory agencies are given broad authority to write the details of implementation. So in effect, really only 25% of the regulatory impact is even known. That uncertainty leaves us with a policy that is the Hobbesian dystopia of arbitrary and capricious government.

          Do you know why helicopter Ben has had to print so much fucking money? It’s because Dodd-Frank so thoroughly fucked the lending industry and availability of credit that the only way to spur economic activity is to print several trillion dollars in hopes that 5% makes it through into actual lending activity.

          You’re fucking shriek.

          1. fucking blind*

          2. This is largely true. In effect, the shadow banking system has been under federal pressure since the crisis. The feds want to basically shut it down. They’re trying to put the entire system under central control. That’s why you’re seeing the Fed increasingly trying to impose (farcically) bank standards on insurance companies and trying to “standardize” derivative contracts, even when doing so impairs the ability of market participants to adequately hedge their risk exposures.

  8. Hey, any of you want to take on a conservative Christian about whether the Libertarian party is a “mistake”?

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com…..party.html

    1. (I usually appreciate this site, but this one contributor not so much.)

    2. I have to admit that I have trouble following the guy’s reasoning. He acknowledges that social conservatives didn’t go out to vote and that that may have cost Romney the election. So, the inference from that is that Libertarians have to work more on being coalitionists? Huh?

      1. Yeah, no idea. These are representative of the kinds of social conservatives who are going to evaluate what caused the failure of the GOP this year and the last thing they should do is blame libertarians. But they might just do that…

    3. That’s fucking frustrating as hell. I am Christian and I am Libertarian. My reading of the bible makes me believe that Libertarianism is the is the most Biblical Political Philosophy.

      1. Yeah, I’ve pretty much come to the same conclusion

      2. My reading of the bible makes me believe that Libertarianism is the is the most Biblical Political Philosophy.

        EXACTLY!

    4. So what’s his beef? Libertarians make very little (if any) progress during this election cycle. I hope he didn’t think, as Shreek and A s s H a t do that we were going to joyously vote Team Red?

      1. 384,516 votes in 2000, 397,265 votes in 2004, 523,686 votes in 2008, and 1,178,442 votes in 2012. If that’s not improvement I don’t know what is. To think that the LP doubled it’s popular vote in just four years. Gary Johnson while only being second best in percentage point of popular votes for an LP candidate, has recieved more popular votes by volume than any other Libertarian presidental nominee to date. If the LP can learn it’s lesson and not fuck up it’s momentum like it did after the 1980 election we might see over 2 million votes for president in 2016.

  9. Those guiys know what tiem it is!

    http://www.privacy-on.tk

    1. Tool Time?
      Miller Time?
      Prime Time?

      1. Miller tiem!

  10. change is scary

  11. Is it just me, or does it seem to anyone else that we are never offered much variety in proposed cuts. The Republicans (those that are willing to discuss cuts at all) want to cut a predictable lineup of social programs. The Democrats always was to start by cutting Defense, in spite of the fact that they are the party of interventionism. How about somebody who ran on a promise to keep Congress’s nose to the grindstone on cutting all the ‘little’ projects that are clearly pork and pork by-products. I use scare quotes on little because $100,000 isn’t little to ME. Such a program of cutting would have two effects; it would eliminate a lot of waste that can’t be justified unless you buy the “It isn’t worth Congress’s time to eliminate this” argument, and it would keep Congress busy and out of worse mischief.

    1. Fuck you you racist neo-fascist cuntservative, you just want to deny Taoist, transgendered, mixed-raced babies with 11 toes and hearing problems a level playing field!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1111111111!!!!1111111111!!111

      /prog

  12. Obama won in part because he got away with blatant lies

    George Orwell expressed a fear in the book 1984 that leaders would gain so much influence they could: “announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it.” Previously he wrote: “This prospect frightens me much more than bombs”.

    We seem to have reached that point. Obama claimed at the Democratic National Convention on Sept. 6th, 2012: “I’ll use the money we’re no longer spending on war to pay down our debt”.

    Yet the White House site contains his 2013 budget proposal with a table showing his planned national debt at the end of each year through 2022. It adds at least $900 billion to the debt every year, $9.6 trillion over a decade.

    If a CEO lied about his company’s finances to get people to buy stock, the public would cry “fraud! send him to jail!”. Should we trust someone to run our government that we wouldn’t trust to run a company? This isn’t a one time gaffe, he has repeated it from the State of the Union in January, through dozens of speeches into October and a campaign commercial.

    People failed to point out his own site contradicts him, there is no need to trust a partisan source. He’ll keep lying if people don’t spread the word since he gets away with it. See this short video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zJbYNDRn_Y or http://www.PoliticsDebunked.com for more including links.

  13. Obama won cheap nfl jerseys in part because he got away with blatant lies

    George Orwell expressed a fear in the book 1984 that leaders would gain so much influence they could: “announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it.” Previously he wrote: “This prospect frightens me much more than bombs”.

    We seem to have reached that point. Obama claimed at the Democratic National Convention on Sept. 6th, 2012: “I’ll use the money we’re no longer spending on war to pay down our debt”.

    Yet the White House site contains his 2013 budget proposal with a table showing his planned national debt at the end of each year through 2022. It adds at least $900 billion to the debt every year, $9.6 trillion over a decade.

    If a CEO lied about his company’s finances to get people to buy stock, the public cheap nhl jerseys would cry “fraud! send him to jail!”. Should we trust someone to run our government that we wouldn’t trust to run a company? This isn’t a one time gaffe, he has repeated it from the State of the Union in January, through dozens of speeches into October and a campaign commercial.

    1. He did pick a running mate who seemed willing to shake things up. Paul Ryan has a budget plan that would downsize the federal government and overhaul Medicare. But Ryan was not allowed to barnstorm the country on behalf of that plan. He spent his time talking about the need to restore the economy to the way it used to be.

      Even the cheap nfl jerseys tea party hero was keen on reassuring those worried that he would turn things upside down. When it came to seniors who cherish Medicare as it is, Ryan always stressed, “What we’re saying is no changes for anybody 55 and above.”

      Most Americans didn’t vote for Ryan. They did, however, vote in favor of no changes for anyone 55 and above?or anyone under.

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