Before I can proceed with other matters that are waiting to be addressed, I realize I must revisit the issue of the election. I’ve had more communication from very upset readers on this matter than I have ever received on any other issue.
One particularly savvy and thoughtful reader wrote: “Any reasonable, thinking, caring person, who is a fact driven voter could not have possibly voted for Obama…” And, indeed, he is correct. The reality of the situation smacks one in the face. (My hat would be off to you, Don, if I were wearing one.)
The key lies in the phrase “fact-driven,” for it is clear that a good percentage of people are not fact-driven. They respond emotively, or are moved by symbols or broad-ranging concepts.
A politically active American friend observed — when I referred to the failure of mainstream media to sufficiently publicize the Benghazi affair — that anyone who wanted information on this could have gotten it. And she, too, is correct. (Appreciated, Reisa.)
Most Americans own computers or Internet-linked devices. Once jarred by a sense that the media wasn’t saying everything that needed to be known (and certainly broad hints of this were out there), they would only have had to google “Benghazi” to secure a huge amount of information.
And so it is perhaps insufficient to blame the media, which is indeed culpable. We are, I suggest, looking at something deeper right now: Many Americans would rather not know.
The Democratic message is more comforting: Bin Laden has been eliminated and al-Qaeda is seriously weakened. The Arab spring will bring democracy to the Middle East and the American president is helping it happen. At the same time, he is watching out for the security of Israel.
Phew… then things aren’t so bad, huh?
A whole lot safer and more reassuring than contemplating an al-Qaeda that moves from one country to another in the region but is still a formidable and destructive force; nations that have fallen into the hands of radical Islamists for whom destruction of America is a chief goal; and a president who pushes Israel to retreat to lines that are most definitely not secure.
Obama, presenting himself as a symbol of hope, reassures. He’s the candidate who cares about the little man, not like that businessman Romney who deals with corporations. (Negative campaigning also works, big time.) No need to delve into the facts that would shatter this picture. Hold fast, hold fast, to that more optimistic feeling. No need to be responsible for clarifying the issues. No need to seek out and then grapple with information that can cause sleeplessness. Cover your ears, close your eyes, before those facts assail you.
If this theory is correct, it explains a whole lot about Obama’s electoral success.
And there is reason to think that it may have credibility. Eleven years ago, with the Twin Towers attack, 3,000 Americans were destroyed. Destroyed by ideologically radical Muslims who cannot even be identified as such in official government communication in Obama’s America.
Here in Israel we were aghast at the severity, the trauma, of that attack, and then at the speed with which Americans developed amnesia regarding the dangers that continue to threaten them and their country.
Facts can be very unpleasant things.
If this theory is correct, it suggests that Obama is not the problem, but rather a symptom of a dangerous mindset.
With regard to looking forward politically, I make these observations:
Not enough to mourn the result of the election. Not even enough to pinpoint the reasons why it turned out as it did. Now is the time for Americans alarmed by the situation to rally and plan.
I do not take away from Romney the fact that he would have been a far better president than Obama, who is a dangerous man. Not for a moment. He might have achieved needed changes on many fronts, for Romney is, to the very best of my understanding of his record, honorable, competent, and a patriotic American. But in the end he represented mostly an alternative to Obama, and many analysts are now saying that this was not enough.
Romney is not an ideologue. He is someone who knows how to get things done and was selling himself that way: as someone who has the capacity to fix much that is wrong with the country, fiscally and otherwise.
But it may have been insufficient because there was no clear vision. No ideological passion.
In fact, in the waning days and weeks of the campaign, Romney — taking the cue from his political advisors — waxed increasingly timid. The strategy was to avoid coming on too strong, as this, it was feared, would alarm the electorate. No suggestions about Islamist threats out there that might require the US to take a strong and dedicated stand. No firm rebuttal to some of the Obama claims.
No direct challenge to America to face these matters.
Now, I know I have just written that the electorate, or some significant part of it, does not want to know. Obviously, this is what Romney was attempting to deal with. In fact, I strongly suspect that Romney was selected by Republicans over ideologues such as Newt Gingrich who would have spoken out boldly because he seemed safer and more comfortable and more “midstream.”
But it’s time for a dramatically different approach.
Members of the Republican party and Americans on the right more broadly must consolidate their efforts without delay and establish a firm ideological base.
There are several reasons why this is critical.
First, because hard realities must be hammered home to the American populace. Dangers to the US and the West that do exist will not disappear because they are ignored. Calling Islamic regimes in Arab states “democratic” will not make them so. Pretending that Iran can be dealt with does not change the goals of the mullahs. Saying that al-Qaeda is essentially defeated will not make it melt away in places where it is gaining strength.
To publicly confront these issues is to do the nation and the world a great service. They must be written about and discussed, again and again and again.
I’ve written in other contexts about a paradigm shift — a shift in how matters are viewed. This is what is needed here. Yes, facts must be exposed. But as many do not respond in terms of facts, a new perception needs to be promoted that speaks also in terms of images and emotions:
People who confront those controversial issues unflinchingly must be embraced by the right, and congratulated for being forthright. They must not be ostracized as far right “kooks” or alarmists, but acknowledged as responsible individuals who are struggling to present a picture of the world that makes sense in light of significant realities.
It must be emphasized that those who are willing to deal with the tough stuff are the true patriots, who can save the country. Avoiding the issues exacerbates danger and in the end the country will pay.
There may be difference of opinion on how to deal with those issues, but public debate on these matters is laudable.
And as the issues are
debated, there absolutely needs to be — as part of that ideology — a sense of dedication to traditional values. A reawakened pride in the concept of American exceptionalism. While problems must be identified, the positive must also be reinforced, and values drawn upon in solving those problems.
What I am describing is a process that requires clarity and dedication on the right. No hand-wringing. No self-pity. Just a determination to move on.
Little by little, a new awareness, a new way of thinking can make its way at a grass roots level. Sounds impossible, perhaps, but you know what they say about a journey of a thousand miles starting with the first step.
The second goal of such a campaign, of course, is that it creates fertile ground for election of conservative candidates, both in the mid-term election in two years, and in the next presidential election.
Daniel Greenfield wrote about all of this superbly yesterday, and I cite portions of his piece here (with emphasis added):
“Moderation does not win elections…America’s new rulers were once considered far more extreme and unpopular than the Tea Party. Embracing radical and unpopular ideas is not a losing strategy. It is a short term losing strategy and a long term winning strategy so long as your ideas can be used to build a movement capable of turning those ideas into an organizing force.
“…Most people, left and right, want a society based on values. Opting out of the values debate means that we lose by default…
“…It’s not enough to be against things. It’s not enough to be for things because they are the opposite of the things that the people you are at war with are for.
“A movement needs a deeper sense of passion. It must be fueled by a certainty that it holds the answer to the problems of its society and its civilization. It must believe that its existence would be necessary even if the left did not exist. And it must be willing to do anything to win.
“…Revolutions are not born out of success, they are born out of despair. They rise out of the dark hours of the night. They come from the understanding that all the other options are running out. Sometimes you have to fall down to rise and sometimes you have to hit bottom, to gather one last breath and fight to reach the top.
“This is still a wonderful country. It is the finest place that this civilization has produced. Despite the events of the last day, it is worth fighting for.”
And now, a correction regarding my last posting, one I make with considerable embarrassment. That I was over-tired and over-wrought might explain the error, but does not excuse it.
When writing last, right after the election results come out, I googled “Obama acceptance speech 2012” and picked up a link from that search. The only problem is that it was his acceptance of the nomination, not acceptance for having won the election. Oops! Now accept my apologies, please. (And with thanks to Maura S-F for catching this.)
Here is the proper link:
People have begun asking me how Israel’s situation will be affected by the Obama win. I am answering that it’s too soon to tell. But I would less than honest if I did not admit that I feel great anxiety; I have picked up some vibes that are decidedly not positive (to put it mildly).
Remember what Obama shouted to a crowd that was booing Romney:
“Don’t boo, vote! Voting is the best revenge!” Revenge? Who thinks this way?
One commentator wrote that Obama has become “President Revenge.” Dan Shapiro, the US ambassador to Israel demurs, saying Obama isn’t like that. No?
Netanyahu knows Romney personally and has a good relationship with him. It was no secret that he preferred a Romney win, but he did not interfere in the election.
There are left wing people here — mostly those who will be involved in our upcoming elections — who are attacking Netanyahu now. Pointing their fingers, they say that if we have trouble with Obama, it will be Netanyahu’s fault. This is a way to weaken him, but it’s unfair. There was trouble from Obama before the election, and way before Romney was even nominated. Obama has never liked Netanyahu.
I would hate to see this issue used against Netanyahu in the elections. But I am without doubt that Obama would be delighted by this and happy to play out the scenario to its limit.
In any event, it seems almost a given that Obama will again exert enormous pressure on Israel, primarily with regard to making concessions to the Arabs.
What Prime Minister Netanyahu needs most is support and encouragement. And American supporters of Israel have a role to play here.
For those who utilize FaceBook there’s another way to register support for Israel and spread messages broadly:
Go to: www.facebook.com/yestoastrongisrael
“Like” the page, follow its messages, and SHARE with others.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.