It’s been exactly one week after the election, and in that week we’ve had a northeaster rip up the east coast and inflict even more misery on New York and, especially, New Jersey. General Petraeus is involved in the type of scandal that tabloids dream of—an extra-marital affair, threatening emails, and top-level stupidity. But what has especially caught my attention is how conservatives were completely blindsided by Obama’s re-election. It seems they had a complete and unshakable belief that Romney would win. After all, Fox News and Rush Limbaugh and other conservative commentators told them so, which meant it must be true.
Except it wasn’t. In a divided country, Obama won by a comfortable margin. Not huge, but comfortable. The numbers had been close for quite some time, but somehow many conservatives didn’t allow for the possibility of an Obama victory. This includes Romney himself, who reportedly didn’t even have a concession speech ready should the unthinkable and the unbelievable—to conservatives—occur.
In short, the Republicans were gobsmacked, and they have been scrabbling furiously ever since last Tuesday. And why were they so gobsmacked? In part because too many conservatives listen only to news channels such as Fox, where they hear the reality according to the Far Right, which all too often doesn’t reflect reality itself. In the reality of the Far Right, minorities don’t count. They might be deviant, pathetic moochers, but they don’t vote in large enough numbers to affect the election. Women don’t count. This allows Far-Right candidates to feel perfectly comfortable saying any number of ignorant, reprehensible things about rape and still feel as though they have women’s votes. This smug confidence even allowed the most radical element to cast aspersions on birth control. Moderates on both sides don’t count. They can be easily swayed by the Far Right message. Rust belt workers don’t count. Let the auto industry sink, no matter how much damage this will cause. Blue-collar workers in Michigan and Ohio will nonetheless flock to the Republican candidate. After all, isn’t free-market ideology worth the pain? The poor don’t count. Heck, they don’t even vote.
So here we have the world according to the Far Right and Fox News, and it must be so. Except it isn’t. At least not for a sizable majority.
Now it can be said, with some justification, that the National Public Radio and Television crowd have the same kind of echo chamber, and while it’s true that Public Radio and Television have liberal leanings, there are fundamental differences. For the most part, the news anchors are neutral, but most important, both sides of any issue are presented. NPR and PBS have taken a certain amount of heat for this. Many liberals feel as though the truth should be presented and that allowing the other side to air its views just muddles the debate.
Maybe it does. But what it also does is allow liberals and moderates to be aware of conservative and Far-Right points of view, to realize only too well that people in this country have different ways of thinking.
Let’s put it another way. If Romney had won, would so many liberals have been gobsmacked? I doubt it. While we liberals were hopeful and optimistic, most of us did not take this election for granted.
Yesterday, while I was raking, a neighbor who was walking her dog stopped by for a chat while the dogs romped in the backyard. We talked about the election, and she told me that before the election, she had visited an elderly aunt, conservative but beloved. (My neighbor is a moderate Democrat.) My neighbor’s parents had recently died, and the aunt asked, “Will you have to pay a death tax?”
“No,” my neighbor replied. “That’s only for estates over a million dollars. My parents left some money, but nowhere near that much.”
The aunt was silent for a while. “Are you sure?”
Yes, my neighbor assured her aunt, she was sure.
And where does that aunt get her news? Why, from Fox, of course.
Maybe it’s time for the Far Right to start getting their news from NPR and PBS.