What the election says about the US and about us

Obama, say our triumphant broadsheets, won because unlike his opponent he understands that America is changing. In line with the almost universal faith in inexorable progress, the implication is that she’s changing for the better because all change is vectored in that direction.

I’m not going to bore you with stacks of figures showing how far this is from the truth. Anyone who follows the news knows anyway that after Obama’s first term America is considerably worse off – economically, socially, politically, geopolitically, demographically – than she was at the same point in George W. Bush’s tenure, when things were already far from perfect.

Nor does it take the help of fortune-telling appliances to predict that things are only going to get worse. No economy can survive years of trillion-dollar deficits when it’s already groaning under the weight of a $16-trillion debt. No country will escape a recession by increasing its already high social expenditure and punishing success by higher taxes. No society can get away for long with allowing unlimited immigration of cultural and ethnic aliens, with the concomitant irreversible shift in the nation’s demographic make-up. No state struggling with economic malaise can pursue incessant local wars – unless it hopes to cure said malaise by provoking a deck-clearing global conflict.

With the possible, though unlikely, change in the last direction, there is every indication that Obama’s administration will follow all others as far as the Republican opposition in Congress will allow. That’s why his re-election will hurt the national interests of the United States, and therefore her people. But then Obama was elected not by the nation at large but by those special groups within it that have a vested economic, ideological and racial interest in extending the tenure of the most socialist president in US history.

Any healthy society would disfranchise a welfare sponger who votes for a candidate merely because he promises more welfare, or a member of an ethnic minority (or, for that matter, majority) who votes solely on the basis of a candidate’s skin colour, or an immigrant who votes for a candidate exclusively in expectation of unlimited immigration. Casting a vote responsibly involves a mature ability to ponder the best interests of the whole nation, not the parochial interests of a discrete group. Believing that every post- or sometimes pre-pubescent person is capable of such deliberation is a fallacy that goes back to the great catastrophe of the West, the French Revolution.

Since then the West has been divided into those who more or less welcome a world built on the principles emerging out of that debacle, and those who more or less reject it. That’s the sense in which America is truly divided. The watershed runs not between Democrats and Republicans, but between those who cheer the clean break with two millennia of Western tradition and those who believe that most of it is worth keeping. That watershed will never be filled in and concreted over, it’s much too deep for that.

Obama’s re-election, in the face of an economic plight that would have made any candidate unelectable at any point in America’s past, shows that more Americans now reside on the left side of the watershed than on the right. I use these conventional terms in a rather unconventional sense of transcendental cultural and philosophical, rather than transient political, allegiance. At that level no reconciliation is ever possible, no compromise can ever be worked out.

Thomas Mann once said that all intellectual attitudes are at heart political. I’d paraphrase that to say that all political attitudes are at heart cultural or, even deeper, moral. Politics may be the art of the possible, but the domains of culture and morality can’t by their very nature be relativistic. Rather than doable or undoable, they operate in the categories of good and bad, or else right and wrong. Regarded in that light, there’s no doubt that Obama’s re-election testifies to the ever-growing number of Americans who opt for bad and wrong, rather than good and right.

This is not to suggest that I believe for a second that Romney would have been on the side of the angels. On general principle, I rather doubt it. But of course I don’t know for sure, and neither did those Americans who cast their vote for Obama. Since only a sudden outbreak of a cretinism pandemic would make the majority like Obama’s record, they had to base their choice mainly on comparing Obama’s rhetoric with Romney’s. On that basis, they chose to stay on the wrong side of the divide.

At least the Americans had one. Nowhere in Europe exists a society with even an approximate parity of right and wrong, good and bad. Stupid, soulless, immoral modernity has carried the day here, which explains such remarkable homogeneity of opinion across the full spectrum of political parties everywhere. It also explains why 90 percent of Frenchmen and 80 percent of Brits favoured Obama. They had been brainwashed to accept unquestioningly the ethos he represents – to a point where no serious opposition to it is possible. In Britain, for example, no candidate saying the same things as Romney would be allowed to stand for a parliamentray seat, never mind lead his party.

That’s why all European leaders, including our faux Tory Dave, endorsed Obama. It’s not Obama they supported, nor his Democratic party. Their hearts went out to the rhetoric that was consonant with the noises they heard in the depth of what passes for their souls. Upon hearing yet another clarion call of modernity, they got up and saluted.

What now? My crystal ball looks murky this morning, so I’ll have to refrain from specific predictions. I don’t know what will happen in America or anywhere else over the next four years. But if we were to widen our perspective and look at long-term trends, the general direction in which the West is going, then one sees little reason for optimism. The West just may be suffering from a terminal disease, and the 2012 US election is but one of it symptoms.    





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