It’s hard to describe the relief that Ohioans feel that this thing is finally over. We have been inundated with phone calls, TV ads, people knocking on our doors, and, not least in my line of work, political mail. This past week the place was crawling with people with clipboards, exiting cars with Maryland and New York license plates, going door to door for Obama. We certainly felt special, and some of our medium-sized towns got more attention from the presidential candidates than whole states, which indicates to me that something is terribly wrong with the system.
And now it is over.
It was not close, like many had feared; no repeat of the 2000 election, with its long, drawn out court battle. No big accusations of election fraud, at least not at this point.
The defeated were gracious, calling for national unity. Even the thirteen year old, well-funded jerk (well, that is what he appears to be) running for Senate here in Ohio was conciliatory. Didn’t know he had it in him, but bless him. I doubt I will be called a cynic for doubting this will last; Congress is still divided, and human nature being what it is it is safe to predict that we will return to gridlock soon.
Jim Quinn and Radio Rose, the worst right-wing talk show hosts I know, were not so conciliatory. I tuned them in on the way to Wooster this morning. Yesterday they were Romney enthusiasts, predicting a landslide. Today they have turned on him, saying that they knew as soon as he was nominated that this would happen. He is a RINO- a Republican In Name Only- and what the country really needed was a true- blooded Tea Party candidate. Limbaugh won’t be on until noon. I wonder what he will have to say. During the campaign he said that if Obama was reelected that the GOP would split. We can only hope. Maybe the Fever Swamp Party will become a permanent minority party for the hard right, impotent but cathartic for its members.
I must confess that I was tempted- and I choose the term carefully- to vote for Obama. Driving home from work last night on the way to the polling station I was listening to Hannity. His guest, some expert on election data, was gushing that Republican areas were showing huge voter turnout, while Democratic areas were way down. He predicted a Romney landslide. While I have been relentlessly critical of both candidates, and view Obama as a disaster, I began thinking of the different sort of disaster a Romney- Ryan administration would herald. They would finish off the working class, and while they avoided specifics in the campaign, Ryan’s budget has never been repudiated by Romney, and the slashes to social programs and the dismantling of the very flawed Obamacare would result in much human suffering and even death. It would certainly result in increased abortions as poor women would be stripped of even the meager resources they have. Romney’s foreign policy is even more belligerent than Obama’s. And Ryan, as a prominent Catholic falsely claiming the mantle of Catholic social teaching while in fact a hypercapitalist, would help erode what little credibility the Church retains.
The polls in Ohio were neck-in-neck. Shouldn’t I hold my nose and vote for the arguably lesser of the intrinsic evils?
In the end I did not; I was probably the last undecided voter in Ohio as I entered the polling station. But in the end, standing there in the library, I went with principle; I voted Socialist. Democratic socialism, as Benedict XVI has said, is close to the vision articulated by Catholic social teaching. Granted, on a wide range of issues they are very far from that teaching, but no worse than the Democrats. Indeed, on their website the emphasis is on economics and worker’s rights; there is far less on “identity issues” than the typical Democratic website.
But boy, am I glad that I don’t have to bear the responsibility for a Romney presidency.