November 2012


What a sense of relief that Obama was reelected…

Thanks to a vacation policy that I don’t quite understand, back at the end of September I was granted an extra day off this year, which I immediately applied toward taking today off.

As the election progressed, I came to realize that I would either be very happy or very depressed today, and in either case, I would be exhausted.

Happily, I am very happy. I’m also not as exhausted as I expected, which is because I took a brief nap in the evening, then slept solidly for two hours from midnight.

After that I was awake.

What puzzles me about this election is the huge gulf that exists between people like me and people who voted for Mitt Romney. It’s almost as if people are suffering from short-term memory loss: Do people not remember what it was like in 2008, when a Republican was in the White House? It was a total disaster, and the economic situation was spiraling downward at an increasingly uncomfortable rate.

To expect a president to turn things around, from such a disastrous starting point, is insane. Especially with The Party of No in opposition. There was no working together, there was no room for debate, and there was no interest in having the country succeed.

Remember, it took George W. Bush a bit more than four years to completely fuck up the country; just long enough to get reelected.

But, for me, that’s not the most puzzling aspect of this election cycle.

The biggest puzzle is how citizens of the United States can differ on basic facts, like whether or not science is legitimate. Or whether women should have the right to choose or not. Or whether sexual minorities have the full rights of citizenship or just the full responsibilities.

I’m not a scientist, but I work closely with a wide variety of scientists. If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that science can help move us forward as a civilization. Scientists can weigh the evidence, propose hypotheses, and then test them. Religion is, seemingly, the polar opposite, demanding and expecting its followers to just believe, even when such beliefs fly in the face of logic or in the face of a ton of scientific evidence.

Bill Maher fantastically points out exactly what is different about the Obama administration versus the previous Republican administration:

When it comes to abortion, I’m not in favor of it and in an optimal world it would be safe, legal, and incredibly rare. But I don’t want to ban it because we know, from thousands of years of experience, that when abortion is illegal, it still happens. In fact, a pro-life congressman encouraged his mistress to get an abortion – and I doubt he’s the only one. Thus, for me, the question becomes, how do we make abortion safe, legal, and rare. Given that we know that teenagers will have sex, thus rendering abstinence education as incredibly useless and dangerous, science suggests the best way is to educate people about sex, like, but not limited to, how to use condoms. Republicans just do not understand this.

Finally, I don’t understand the animosity against sexual minorities: it takes somebody who is in complete denial to read the history books and come to the conclusion that gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgendered, and the rest are all modern constructs that come about out of willful disobedience of god. History is littered with sexual minorities who have contributed hugely to the advancement of civilization – even if they have been forced to hide in the shadows.

The United States has, in theory, a secular government (unlike, I might note, Germany), where the government doesn’t endorse any specific religion. Marriage, as presented by the state, is a purely civil contract, not a religious one. If individuals want to get married by a church, they can, and if the church doesn’t want to marry same-sex couples, they don’t have to. But to suggest that two men or two women getting married will lead to the downfall of civilization only suggests that you are a bigot, and it’s perfectly acceptable to call you a bigot. If you don’t want to be called a bigot, don’t say bigoted things – and, even better, don’t believe bigoted things.

On a personal level, this election means a lot to me, and when CNN called it for Obama around 5:15 this morning, I teared up a bit. And then I went to bed for a couple hours. Waking up to the news that the Republicans lost their Senate seat in Indiana was a bit bittersweet (I liked Senator Lugar a lot; I bet Hoosier Republicans are regretting their tea party crackpot). Learning that bigoted anti-marriage proposals went down to defeat in four different states was thrilling.

This has truly been a remarkable election, and for all the right reasons.

Even if Michele Bachmann got reelected.

2 comments to What a sense of relief that Obama was reelected…

  • As an Irishman I was also happy for Mr. O’Bama. Sure he’s a great fella altogether!
    Now, let’s see if he can actually do any of the things he says he wants to do. I just hope his hands aren’t as tied as they were last time. He can really go for it now that he doesn’t need to worry about getting back in.

  • Mateo

    I couldn’t go to bed either until I heard the news, but at least I didn’t have to stay up as long as you did! I was just as happy about the results, though.