So the world didn't come to an end today. This is kind of depressing for those of us who haven't bothered to do any Christmas shopping since it didn't really matter this year. I also have no idea what I'm gonna' do with all these "The Mayans were right" T-Shirts I planned to share with my ancestors after the apocalypse (having cleverly bought them on a payment plan, it turns out I'm actually gonna' have to pay full-price for all this crap now).
At a mournful moment like this, where for once it looks like tomorrow actually IS promised, the only thing that cheers me up is reminiscing about the year gone by, and the magic and wonderment that the Republican party has brought to the unwashed masses of our nation in these difficult times.
It all began with the presidential election season, which featured the surreal spectacle of the GOP primary debates in which grown men and woman showed the entire world why Saturday Night Live will never go off the air. By the time the "inevitable-nominee" Mitt Romney emerged victorious, it was clear that the shining lights of the Republican Party would not be willing to accept a 10-to-1 package of spending reductions to tax increases, had little to no respect for the troops (if they happened to be gay), and were willing to consider "self-deportation" as a serious approach to solving our immigration problem.
Despite my own dashed hopes that a few of these candidates would engage in the age old practice of "self-shut-up-already," the general election revealed a GOP just as beholden to magical thinking as it was to invisible billionaires with bottomless checkbooks. From fabricating imaginary attacks on welfare reform, to leveling incessant broadsides against an imaginary President Obama (and I'm not just talking about Eastwood), to the oft-repeated-never-proven assertion that lowering taxes for the wealthy increases revenues - embracing the GOP platform this year required a certain belief in elves and faeries, worthy of anyone embarking on a quest for the Ring of Sauron, or bipartisan compromise in Congress.
And when that magical thinking failed to transform the president's persistent lead in the polls into a landslide victory for Mitt Romney, the world witnessed the meltdown of the modern-day Republican party personified in the antics of Karl Rove during FOX News' election night coverage. Apparently the 47% of Americans comprised of women, youth, people of color, and all manner of other freeloaders - turned out to be a majority of the electorate. It's the kind of math that only the GOP of 2012 could imagine.
And today, when the world should have been busy ending, we instead witnessed two more memorable moments. First, House Speaker John Boehner's failure to win enough support from his own caucus to bring a vote on his proposed "Plan B" fiscal cliff solution to the floor of the House of Representatives. While this was a surprise for most who've been observing the back & forth from a safe distance, in the end is it really so surprising that Congressional Republicans weren't willing to pass a bill that would put them on record as supporting a tax increase - a bill that could never become law even in the imaginings of its sponsor?
Yet the good times were only beginning to roll. To cap it all off, this morning NRA chief sharpshooter Wayne Lapierre held a half-hour news conference in which he single-handedly managed to convince the entire nation of the absolute necessity of keeping firearms out of the hands of people as mentally disturbed as Wayne Lapierre. After what many would argue to be the single most tragic mass shooting in our nation's history - it's horror marked not only by the number of people killed, but by the incomprehensible fact that most of them were children - the NRA declared it's position that in order to solve the problem of mass shootings at schools...we need to have more guns at schools.
I look at all of this and can't help but think that the imaginary world the GOP has created - one where brown people, women, gays and youth either don't exist or don't matter enough to speak to - is drifting apart before our eyes. While most of the country is still pondering how we can sensibly preserve the rights guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment while keeping assault weapons off our streets, and out of our malls and schools, the Republican stalwarts at the NRA have determined that video games, movies, music and other fictional works are the sources of the real-life violence we've grown so accustomed to - which is clearly why video-game loving nations like Japan, the UK and the maple-syrup-snorting madmen to our North have a fraction of the gun-violence we do.
In the end it's been a big year for the American imagination. And who would have thought that ultimately the Mayan calendar predicted not the end of the world...but the end of any connection the Republican Party once had with reality.
"I think we've all got to assume that anything can happen in an election this close, because that's the name of the game. That said, I just don't think it's going to be that close & certainly not in the electoral vote. For one thing as you mentioned early voting has been strong for the President in a number of key states. The polling has also favored the president and yet standard polling overwhelmingly undercounts young voters who are a) less likely to have a landline, and b) less likely to answer an unknown call on their cell phone.
Additionally, I'd argue that the voter suppression efforts in places like PA, OH & FL has had a boomerang effect against the GOP. Folks keep talking about a lack of enthusiasm on the DEM side, but I think what they're talking about is the lack of euphoria that accompanied much of the campaign in 08. Then people voted because they were excited - this time people are excited to vote because they're pissed that someone has tried to take the vote away from them.
I had a chance to interview David Axelrod last Nov...and these guys have been all over the voter suppression issue for a strong minute. I'm giving NV, IA, WI, OH, PA & NH to the president. I'm also going out on a limb and giving him VA as well. NC & CO I'm not convinced he wins, and FL could go either way, but from the math I see President Obama wins big."
I think there's a good chance President Obama takes FL as well, given the ongoing demographic shift in that state (eg. the Latino community there is deep and increasingly "non-Cuban"; the young Cuban demo is not as deeply committed to the Castro issue that has galvanized previous generations behind the GOP). Additionally, the Obama campaign has a far superior ground game to the Romney campaign nationwide (particularly in the battle-ground states) and ultimately this numbers game boils down to who shows up to the polls & has their votes counted.
The bottom line is, yes the country is divided but the electoral college will not be. Tomorrow we'll be hearing the news media all abuzz about how the polls were so bad, of course they couldn't tell it wouldn't be close. Except for Nate Silver, who's been doing the math all along.