Sunday, November 18, 2012

Politics, The American Blood Sport

Readers from other countries daily log onto Beyond The Political Spectrum in order to get an insight into the social and political fabric of America…without all of the MSNBC or FOX News-esque ideological spin. And because many foreign visitors to my blog want to know about (either) the social and/or political landscape here in The States, I thought that foreign readers might want to know that we here in America take our politics very seriously. In fact, it’s probably safe to say that after the recent Congressional and presidential election that politics is as much of a blood sport here as soccer is to most of you who live abroad. For example, as you may or may not know, projection polls leading up to the presidential elections indicated that nationally, former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama were in a virtual tie, while the president was leading in the so-called “battleground states”… states representing the greatest number of votes based on population.

 Despite the fact that many knew the election was to be a referendum on the economy and the razor edge closeness of most mainstream polls, the ever-so-slight battleground states lead the president had had many mainstream news outlets and pundits slightly favoring Obama to win the election. However, Republican/conservative backers of Romney didn’t want to believe what most traditional polls had projected for the election…polls which routinely adhered to industry polling standards. Much like an undermanned, underpowered soccer team ignoring the experience of a better team and the probably outcome, they ignored mainstream polls because they were reflective of a perceived pro-Obama “bias.”

 Fueled in part by conservative media talking heads cut from the Fox News cloth, many Republicans had their anticipated election victory “validated” by the likes of conservative pollster Scott Rasmussen (who based his polling system on flawed assumptions which gave the most inaccurate of projections). The effect was a glut of notable conservative pre-election day predictions. For example:

UnskewedPolls’ Dean Chambers: 
Romney 311, Obama 227. “Despite the pattern of skewed polls, most of them commissioned by the mainstream media, the overall electoral landscape is looking more and more favorable for Romney.” — Nov. 1, on

Rush Limbaugh: 
“All of my thinking says Romney big. All of my feeling is where my concern is. But my thoughts, my intellectual analysis of this — factoring everything I see plus the polling data — it’s not even close. Three hundred-plus electoral votes for Romney.” — Nov. 5, on his radio show.

Newt Gingrich: 
“I believe the minimum result will be 53-47 Romney, over 300 electoral votes.” – Oct. 25, on Fox News.

Taken together—and despite evidence to pointing to the contrary—Republicans were dealt with an Election Day loss which they never saw coming. This was apparent in the apparent live on-air meltdown of political strategist Karl Rove election night on Fox News as the projections of Obama’s win started to become apparent. Although in Rove’s defense, his being incredulous toward believing the $300 million dollars of the "dark money" his political action committees (American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS) contributed to seeing Obama defeated went for naught would have rendered me just as unhinged. 

In a similar fashion, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who became the largest single political donor in the history of politics had an equal amount of luckless success.

Mr. Adelson donated more than $60 million. But of the eight candidates he supported, none won. That included the Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, who was battered by negative ads financed by Mr. Adelson during the primary before Mr. Adelson switched to become a supporter (See:  "Times Topics: Sheldon Adelson.")

And although Republican-leaning groups outspent Democratic ones by a wide margin, this is not to say that there wasn’t an equal amount of outside money spent on the Democratic side. And although Republican-leaning groups outspent Democratic ones by a wide margin, this is not to say that there wasn’t an equal amount of outside money spent on the Democratic side. Organizations like American Bridges and Priorities USA Action benefitted from large donors whose causes reflect left-of-center issues.

2,100,000 - Irwin Jacobs Founder of chipmaker Qualcomm and former M.I.T. professor.

2,100,000 - Jeffrey Katzenberg Chief executive of Dreamworks Animation.

2,000,000 - Jon Stryker Gay rights advocate and founder of the Arcus Foundation.

1,750,000 - Amy P. Goldman Author; daughter of the late Sol Goldman, a wealthy New York real estate investor.

1,600,000 - Anne Cox Chambers Part owner of Cox Enterprises, the media conglomerate.

1,350,000 - Anne Earhart Investor, Corona del Mar, Calif. Granddaughter of the oil baron J. Paul Getty.
                                                      (Source:  "The Big Democratic ‘Super PAC’ Donors").

Needless to say that this list is hardly exhaustive. However, it showcases how—much like in European soccer—interests groups are willing to go blow-for-blow in influencing election politics in America. In a real sense, these outside moneyed groups would be analogous to the Euro-rich tycoons who own the various teams, and try to exert their influence on the game’s outcome from tournament to tournament.
And much like an occasional European soccer game, this election cycle was marked with its own version of the soccer riot; we call them “presidential primaries.” And this year’s GOP presidential primaries were marked by cut-throat accusations, name-calling, and self-destructive gaffes that opponents pounced on drunker soccer fans rooting for a losing team. And although there were no equally visible Democratic presidential primaries this particular election cycle, we saw the same often raucous atmosphere during the election of year of 2008…particularly between then candidates Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. These pre-election contests to whittle down the party candidates often reveal genuine animosities as well as personality differences between individuals seeking public office, especially at the federal level.
And sometimes, American politics has its occasional bouts of violence and tragedy related to the electoral process, which is usually confined to state and local contests (such as the 2001 murder a DeKalb County, Georgia Sheriff-elect by the former sheriff of the county). But this year’s presidential elections, as a result of the reelection of the nation’s first black president, have yielded a new level of violent insanity. In Miami, 64-year-old Henry Hamilton had been "very upset about the election results,” according to friends and family members. Prior to the recent presidential elections, Hamilton had allegedly made remarks to the effect that "if Barack gets re-elected, I'm not going to be around.” True to his word, he was found dead November 8th “with the words ‘F--- Obama!’ scrawled on his will and two empty prescription bottles nearby” (See:  "Death of Key West Man Linked to Obama's Reelection").
As if suicide over the election of a particular candidate wasn’t bloody enough, a woman in Phoenix, Arizona was arrested and charged with nearly killing her husband in an incident related to the recent elections. According to news reports, 28-year-old Holly Solomon allegedly chased down her husband with the family car, eventually catching up to him and running him down. The reason? Because he had failed to vote in the presidential elections. According to police, “his wife became angry over his "lack of voter participation" in last Tuesday's presidential election and believed her family would face hardship as a result of Obama winning another term.”(See: "Arizona Woman Runs Down Husband With Car for Not Voting: Police").

And yes like soccer, America politics has its equivalent of hooligans and rowdy roughnecks whose only contribution to the sport is mayhem and deconstructive commotion. You can always tell these individuals by their fear-mongering laced with hyperbolic and exaggerated rhetoric. They usually make unsubstantiated claims, more so than what one would usually expect within the rough-and-tumble world of politics. Claims of “government sanctioned ‘death panels,” how women’ bodies can automatically reject forced pregnancies at the hands of rapists, that abortion is a "Constitutional right," how marijuana “isn’t harmful,” and how climate change “has not been proven” are the give-away signs of these outsiders.
So I say this to those readers who are not Americans that we have more in common with you than you might think. Although we tend to do things in this country a lot differently than they do in the rest of the world, we all play certain games—sometimes to the death—with all the fervor and ferocity of the lower mammals. Where you all play and see games like soccer as being a life-or-death affair, we in this country treat politics with the same level of deathly earnest. And as the 18th century philosopher David Hartley once said, "Nothing reveals Humanity so well as the games it plays."

Gingrich criticizes former Governor Mitt Romney's recent statement regarding President Obama's election win; that his victory was the result of "gifts" he promised America's minorities, women, and college students. Category:


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