By Andrew Romano - To all those ultraconservatives who were convinced that America would never reelect a “lazy” “Kenyan” “socialist” “fraud”:
America is not what you think it is...when the polls suggested that Obama had a better chance of winning than Romney, you knew the polls were wrong. They were oversampling Democrats. They weren’t factoring in Romney’s advantage among independents. They were part of a vast left-wing media conspiracy to depress GOP turnout. To really know how America was going to vote on Election Day, you had to “unskew” the polls by reweighting each pollster’s sample to include more Republicans—and thus better reflect what you knew to be the true composition of America. Once unskewed, the polls reinforced what you knew all along: that Romney was destined for a landslide.
But then, on Tuesday night, the results came rolling in. Suddenly Obama had won every single swing state except North Carolina: Florida by 1 point; Ohio by 2; Virginia by 3; Colorado by 4; Iowa by 5; and New Hampshire by 6. Somehow he had clobbered Romney by 126 votes in the Electoral College and more than 2.5 million in the popular count. On Monday, you knew that America would never reelect the president. And then on Tuesday, America did.
So what happened? Logically, it could only be one of two things: either you misjudged Obama or you misjudged America. I know, at this point, that the first option is a nonstarter. For a true ultraconservative like yourself, the idea that you might be wrong about Obama—that the president is just a human politician you happen to disagree with, rather than, say, some sort of malevolent alien life form—is unthinkable. So that leaves the second option. You must have gotten America wrong somehow.
I know this is an uncomfortable notion. Honestly, I don’t expect you to agree. But here’s the thing: the election—the unskewed, unspinnable, undeniable accumulation of votes cast by your fellow Americans—is all the evidence you need. The election is proof that America is not what you knew it to be, at least not anymore. Your America never would have reelected the creator of Obamacare. It never would have reelected the man who announced our Afghanistan withdrawal date. Same goes for the guy who spent hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to stimulate the economy and prop up the auto industry; who presided over a period of record unemployment and rising national debt; who came out in support of gay marriage.
But, again, America did just that. Could it be, then, that the America you knew—the America some of you have called the Real America—is not the Real America after all?
What if your Real America is an illusion? A big, glassy, Truman Show bubble? A blinkered fantasyland where everyone agrees with you, where everyone thinks like you, from Rush on the radio to Sean on Fox; from the columnists at WorldNetDaily to the chain letters in your inbox; from one corner of your homogeneously redrawn congressional district to the other? Our modern media culture is so potent, pervasive, and personalized, and our political landscape so segregated, that it is now possible for a person to go through life rarely, if ever, hearing an opposing point of view. You were so sure your America was the real America because you never encountered any evidence to the contrary—not on TV, not on the radio, not online, and not in your community.
The 2012 election should burst that bubble. Returns like Tuesday’s make it hard to keep on choosing your own reality. The numbers are the numbers. Americans voted for gay marriage in Maine, Maryland, and Minnesota. They voted for legal marijuana in Colorado and Washington. They voted for a lesbian in Wisconsin—the first openly gay senator in U.S. history. And they voted against evangelical Tea Partiers in the very winnable states of Indiana and Missouri.
But above all else, Americans voted for Barack Obama. Again.
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