Columns 2012

We can’t be bought

It’s over. No more lying ads. No more fake smiles. No more polls upon polls, each insisting the other poll is biased. No more giant heads – think Dick Morris, Karl Rove and Rush Limbaugh – explaining to us how they won when they lost. No, for just a very brief and blessed moment, there will be silence.

I’m not hiding from reality here. I’m aware that the Twitter universe continues to abound in statements best suited for the trash heap, written by people best suited for that same destination. Think Donald Trump, a man whose borrowed and indebted millions still can’t seem to produce enough discernment in him to get a good haircut. 

But generally speaking, the campaign that seemed to threaten to take over all existence on this earth from now until time immemorial is finished. And finished not in a raggedy, hanging chad kind of way. No, finished in a huge Electoral College majority kind of way. No recounts needed this time. No Supremes called upon to make the decision. The American people have spoken.

To my mind, what the American people said with this election was not that they identified with one party or another. Nor did they seem to espouse one philosophy over another, at least not on the national level. Individuality reigned supreme in a good way, proving once again that you should never assume you know what American voters will do in the privacy of that little booth.

What I heard the electorate say in this election was that the American public couldn’t be bought. No amount of money is going to convince them that an apple is a sneaker, no matter how slick and incessant the ads might be trying to prove otherwise. Americans seem to understand that if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, they’ll put their money behind the concept that it actually is a duck.

This was the first campaign where the Citizens United ruling of the Supreme Court allowed unlimited money to flow into both state and national campaigns. It seemed as though reality took a second seat to what the people paying for those ads wanted to say and wanted us to believe. Over $2 billion was raised and spent on this effort. Facts became roadside kill, as the concept of “my facts versus your facts” took on a life of its own.

And it produced, for those most heavily invested in it, little to nothing. No matter how Karl Rove tries to spin it, he took $400 million and blew it with little to show in the end but a red face and sputtering explanation of how math facts aren’t really facts.

Yep, $2 billion later, we end up at the same place we started except for one outstanding fact – women and minorities have come into their own in America today and have found their voice and their vote. All four right wing Republican men with extremely interesting views on rape were defeated in states where Republicans otherwise won majorities. An openly gay woman was elected to the Senate. The majority of voters in multiple states approved gay marriage. And the call for sensible pot laws that would eliminate the resoundingly failed War on Drugs finally saw the light of day.

America was never a monolithic white society. Women and minorities have been here since the beginning of this great nation. But only with this election have we finally seen these groups assert their right to be equally seen and heard in this country. Granted, given that our population tends to be 50/50 male and female, it’s a stretch to claim that 20 women in the Senate is some historic moment of women’s equality, but it’s a good start.

For those reveling in the silence that accompanies the end of a long, harsh presidential campaign, enjoy it while you can. I’ve already heard some music on the radio that suspiciously evokes the Christmas spirit. That means Inauguration Day can’t be far behind. And that means that the kickoff of the 2016 campaign season is but a few months away.

So embrace the momentary silence. Revel in the relatively benign lies of televisions ads selling you stuff you don’t need for needs you didn’t know you had. It will all end far too soon.