Let’s be honest… Obama is probably going to be re-elected. It’s not even close enough to bother talking about it anymore, so I’d prefer to start analyzing what his re-election will mean for America.
First and foremost, it won’t change much. The left won’t get many (if any) of their agenda passed, and the horror scenarios of the right have become less and less funny over the years, and more and more sad (in the same way that a person with Alzheimer’s might go from being foolishly aloof to downright batty and combative).
Just as if Romney were elected president, the country will not crumble under Obama; it will just continue to decay due to neglect. But some tangible things will change, there’s no doubt about that. Things do not remain the same forever.
Obama’s presidency has already had a marked effect on the political left. Where the left was once the domain of those who fought on behalf of peace, it is now dominated by hawks reminiscent of the right during the Bush years.
The left is still the primary bastion of those who would solve international conflicts peacefully, but their voices have been smothered by those who feel some misguided loyalty for the Killer Drone in Chief. The right has now been joined by the Obama-loyal left in baselessly supporting violence with no clear intent in the Middle East.
In this respect, Obama has succeeded in legitimizing American war crimes overseas. The language of support is different, of course. The left won’t call you unpatriotic if you question Obama’s handling of the Middle East. Instead, they just smile, nod, and mutter some version of the sentiment, “Well, what else are we supposed to do?” The left is so much more polite in how they look the other way, right?
Obama’s re-election will likely have a more profound impact on the political right, however. I’m just not sure how…
As I see it, there are three possible courses of action for the right after the election. There are those who say the right will see the error of their ways and shift back to the center, a notion I find unlikely given the current ideological momentum. There’s the possibility that they will remain almost unaltered, holding their ground and cementing the backward policies and attitudes that have made Republicans the most regressive major political party in Western democracy. Or… there’s the third option.
I think it’s very likely that the political right in America will have a collective conniption fit over the re-election of Obama. While I don’t see a civil war as plausible (it would take literally days, if not hours, to quash insurrection using a modern military), I see the rage of the right reaching the same fevered pitch that was seen following the election of Lincoln.
But again, I would stress that the chance of any sort of organized violence being aroused by his re-election to be infinitesimal at best. Remember that Lincoln did not take office for months, and his predecessor, James Buchanan, sat idly by while the Civil War began. Given modern technology, and the fact that Obama is already in charge of the armed forces, any sort of violence would be put down swiftly and with very little effort.
However, the same sentiments will be felt on the right as were felt by antebellum supporters of the Slave States. There will be a general air of helplessness and weakness, a sense that their thoughts and feelings are being ignored (though to be fair, they rarely seem to have thoughts or feelings). Since the right is likely to hold the House, you can expect at least two more years of legislative obstructionism and petty squabbling, and I don’t see any evidence to suggest that the mid-term elections in 2014 will change that.
On the whole, then, I see the country shifting to the right. The establishment on the left has already shifted to the right of many conservatives in more advanced and prosperous Western nations, while the right is in many respects only a few gas chambers away from emulating the Nazis.
In the long-term, things don’t look good for Republicans. The party itself will undeniably need to re-invent itself or risk becoming utterly obsolete, but need does not necessarily lead to action. Most Republicans will simply die of old age within a few decades, and the new crop of right-wingers are undeniably more libertarian and – dare I say it – progressive. We’re still several election cycles away from the Libertarian Party being viable, but either the Republican Party will become indistinguishable from the Libertarian Party, or the Libertarians will outright replace Republicans within my lifetime (maybe 20-30 years from now).
In my view, things are hazier on the left. It’s hard to say what will happen there, because the Democratic Party has a habit of saying one thing and doing something completely different. With only a few exceptions (fiscal responsibility being the primary one), Republicans do what they say they will do. Democrats say they are liberal, then once elected, they are almost no different than moderate Republicans.
It is harder, then, to determine what will become of the Democrats. They may start doing what they promise, like legalizing gay marriage, instituting a proper healthcare system, ending US involvement in unjust wars… but they also may just start being honest about what they’re doing. It’s difficult to say, and I just don’t know in which direction the Democrats are headed. They seem to be facing one way while walking another, stumbling along like an ideological drunk.
But America will survive the election, because Obama is not the worst president we’ve ever had. He’s just not a good one.