Latest update: November 8th, 2012
It hasn’t been a long night. Around 10 PM Eastern, someone on one of the channels I had been following said that President Obama’s motorcade was getting ready to take him to his election center, in Chicago. It meant that the Democrats were certain about their presidential win.
I could feel the anguish emanating from our own chat line here, at the JewishPress.com. I was hearing similar cries of woe from a few open Skype lines on my desktop. Towards the end there, I think many of us started believing that a Romney win was a real possibility. A Dick Morris prediction of a Romney landslide win we ran here got close to 30 thousand page views in half a day. Regardless of its very loose connection to reality on this planet, the story expressed the yearnings of so many who flocked to our website in search of a voice to reflect their own.
The Democrats have retained control over the Senate, with 51 seats plus two independents. Not the kind of numbers that can break a filibuster. The Republicans will keep the House, with a net loss in the single digits. This means Obama had no coat tails whatsoever in this election. He barely got over the hedge himself. He has won better than 300 delegates to the Electoral College, but that does not mean that he received a mandate from the people. He won by a squeak.
I believe the Republicans have achieved their most basic goal this time around, namely, that their presidential candidate—who was destined to lose to an incumbent—wouldn’t perform so atrociously that his defeat would coat-tail the Republican House with it down in flames. Remember Governor Perry? Speaker Gingrich? Congresswoman Michele Bachmann? So Romney delivered the bare minimum that was expected of him: Don’t make matters even worse. That was the reason the party leaders, along with the Bush clan and Karl Rove were so adamant about supporting Romney – they and the billion dollar budget they brought in with them.
The fact that Romney almost won the presidency while he was at it was above and beyond their initial expectations. I think Romney spent much of the campaign playing to tie rather than win. It was only when he met the enemy in the first debate and drew blood that he realized he could actually make it. That’s my hunch.
Political Science majors should take note of the miracle performed by Obama Tuesday. Until this year, no incumbent president since FDR in 1940 has won re-election with unemployment over 7.2%. Well, Obama has broken the mold, winning despite unemployment hovering at between 7.6 and 7.9%. This means there were additional circumstances that weighed in his favor. I believe two factors were in play:
1. America is losing its White majority. It is sinking fast, and this year it is 72.4% White. Back in 2000, it was 75.1% white (In 2011, White new births were outnumbered by non-White 50.5% to 49.5%). Since Romney lost by such a small margin (roughly a million votes nationwide), it means that had this election been held in 2004—all other things staying the same—it would have been a Republican victory.
A good friend suggested to me early Tuesday morning that the Republicans were experiencing the broken glass effect, meaning they would crawl over broken glass to vote their choice, that’s how much they hated Obama. But my wife commented that, judging by the images of long lines of African American and Hispanic voters standing in line in Florida, Virginia and Ohio, it appears they, too, would be perfectly willing to take the crunch. That’s how much they feared Romney.
2. The Republican Party has to regain the center for real. Let’s face it, Romney was working hard to appear like a benign centrist, but you can’t be against the Dream Act and against abortion rights in this country and hope to be considered a centrist. I’m afraid that with its zeal to embrace the authentic Tea Party candidates, the Evangelicals, and the NRA crowd, the GOP has edged out the last of its liberal and moderate stars. This works well for the red states and even for local races in many blue states, but if the GOP wants to govern, it has to rediscover its businessmen/women, its bankers and its moderate intellectuals, or it won’t stand a chance to win presidential politics ever again.
Obama has won, for the second time, both Florida and Virginia, two states with total Republican domination over local politics. This means that the same voters who trust a Republican for governor and other state offices do not trust a right-wing Republican for president.
To remind you, President GW Bush had solid support from the Hispanic voters, largely because of his sane immigration policies. But Romney didn’t have very encouraging things to say to Hispanics on amnesty, etc., plus several South-Western Republican officials were hedging their own careers on antagonizing their Hispanic citizens and visitors, making the GOP in general a most unpopular brand over there.
What does all of the above mean for the Jews? I think the U.S. economy will not be coming back any time soon. Blame Bush 2, blame Obama, blame Wall Street, blame China, it doesn’t really matter. Our annual GDP growth is 1.7%. It’s a depressing rate suggesting that, after four years since the big crash, most businesses are still hesitating to move forward. It means banks are still hesitating to trust potential borrowers. As a result, new jobs are not being created and the number of people receiving their income from government entitlement programs is increasing alarmingly.
It’s not the end of the world, the U.S. economy is big enough to recover from this depression/recession – but, sadly, not with this president. Unless Obama finds a new, creative way he hasn’t thought of until now, to generate new confidence in the hearts and minds of decision makers in business and industry, we should expect more of the same: a sluggish, increasingly desperate crawl through the mud.
The truth is I’m less concerned about the fate of the State of Israel under Obama’s second term than I am about my Jewish brothers and sisters in America. I trust that the IDF—with God’s help—is good enough to defend the Jewish state with or without a very friendly U.S. president.
I don’t think the next four years will be fun for anyone in America, but for us, mostly right-wing, professionals and small business traditional Jews, it’s going to be sad and even a little scary.
A Romney win would have signaled a cultural change. I may not love everything about Mormons, but they don’t get drunk, they give to charity, and they have a lot of children whom they raise in loving families. I could think of worse presidential role models.
The U.S. president always marks the center. Everyone else is either to the left or to the right of him. That’s why I’m so anxious for a moderate-Republican as president, because he encourages centrist thinking. I thought that GW Bush was way too far to the right, without a broad mandate to do so. I think Obama has pulled the center over to the left by almost the same measure – except he hasn’t been as brash about it.
Back in 2008, I had tears in my eyes when Obama had won. I thought I was seeing an impossible dream coming true. This time around I feel angry and betrayed by the man who crushed my dream, who failed to do right by the multitudes who voted for him.
I do believe that the Romney loss must energize a discussion among right-wing American Jews about planning their future in Israel. Our website will continue to cover opportunities in Israel in terms of jobs, housing, medical care, creature comforts, socializing, a spiritual life and the economy. It is my honest opinion that, given the above predictions about the next four years, you could do a whole lot better on my side of the water.
About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.
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