I don’t really have anywhere to go with this at the moment, but I do sort of wonder what’s going to happen to the Republican rank-and-file now that the election is over. I’m not talking about party leaders: I assume that after a brief spasm of pretending to be willing to work with Obama, they’ll return to maximal obstruction mode without missing a beat. I’m thinking more of the tea partyish base.
Losing a presidential election is always tough, but this one was presented to them in unusually apocalyptic terms. Obama was a closet socialist. He was un-American. He wanted to destroy capitalism. He’s been responsible for endless economic misery. He’s left America open to attack from foreign enemies. He wants to immiserate small business owners in order to distribute goodies to poor people. He engineered a total government takeover of the healthcare industry. He deliberately allowed four brave Americans to die in Benghazi and then ruthlessly covered it up. He wants to outlaw churches. He wants to take away your guns. Etc. On Fox News last night, there was palpable disbelief from right-wing pundits that he could possibly have won. They thought Mitt Romney should have been able to blow Obama out of the water in a massive defeat, and the fact that he didn’t meant the Republican Party ought to commit ritual suicide to pay for its world historic incompetence.
And you know, if you immerse yourself in right-wing media, it all makes a sort of sense. “This is not hyperbole,” one Republican told Andy Kroll last night, “This country is done. The writing’s on the wall. Dead.” A relative told me last night about a friend who’s literally afraid that her life savings are now in danger because Obama was reelected. James Fallows has been following the story of a small businessman who says he’s going to close up shop now that Obama is back in office. All of these people believe that Obama is something close to a dystopian antichrist. And yet….a majority of Americans decided to put him back in office. If Obama really is the guy you’ve been told he is, that’s not just inexplicable, it’s nothing short of criminal.
So what happens now? What happens when churches continue to thrive, the economy recovers, Obamacare turns out to be a fairly benign expansion of healthcare coverage, taxes don’t change much, and America doesn’t find itself under foreign occupation? I don’t know. Like I said, I don’t really have anywhere to go with this. But a big part of the conservative base has been told that another four years of Obama will literally result in America no longer being a free country, and their fear of what that means is quite real. So what happens now?