Election Day Shows How Much Things Are Changing
Election Day! I continue to be a dork who loves it. After what is now years of build-up, you can’t help but be excited. This year is particularly exciting, with FiveThirtyEight upgrading the chances of an Obama win to 91.6%. Which isn’t absolute! As Nate Silver says, Romney’s chance of winning is the same as a poker player pulling an inside straight, but inside straights do happen. Romney’s people are cheating hardcore, too, which continues to be a point of concern. Still, the flip side of it is that the more aggressively Republicans imply, suggest, or even outright say that the votes of people of color, single women, urban professional whites shouldn’t count, the angrier people get. And that means something. The lines are long in part because people are determined to vote.
This race has been particularly difficult, because the ugly racism that still haunts this country and compels the voting choices of a majority of white people was particularly aggressive this time around. I’d say it was worse in 2008, because last time, I think conservatives simply found it implausible that Obama could win, polls aside. Now that they have proof that Americans will vote for a black President, their rage has spun out of control. After four years of conservatives trafficking in race-baiting conspiracy theories, the majority of white people are still on board with their agenda, which is beyond depressing. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make jokes at their expense:
The other story of conservative rage this election is one of gender. The unhinged fury at Sandra Fluke was a stand-in for a generalized conservative anger at women for embracing the gains of feminism. In a sense, her very ordinariness is what made so many right wingers so mad. There’s nothing unusual about a woman who is confident, ambitious, willing to acknowledge the existence of sex, and determined to get her career underway before she even considers getting married and having kids. That’s just how things are these days. Conservative pundits went deranged at the very mention of her because their usual put-downs for independent women just don’t work anymore. Slut? Bitch? Feminazi? It’s just laughable. The proper word for independent young women who believe they have the same rights as men is “normal”. The conservative expectation that a woman be too modest to admit in public even knowing what this “contraception” thing is sounds positively Victorian, and they know it. Thus, the impotent rage and ridiculous insistence that merely saying “contraception” in public makes someone the town pump. Clearly, they hope by saying it over and over, they can make it true, but that strategy just backfired.
Regardless of how this election turns out, the most interesting thing is how much conservatives really do seem to see the writing on the wall: Things are changing. At best, they can slow the rate, but they cannot stop it. Their intense focus on cheating through voter suppression this election shows that they know they couldn’t win in a fair fight. And that is something that gives me hope, even as I despair at how ugly things have gotten.