I often like the concept of democracy more than the thing itself. Like all political systems, it’s much better in the abstract. In an ideal democracy – or democratic republic, if you want to get all pedantic on me – a well-informed citizenry would stand up and cast their votes for a leader from those who were best suited to guide the nation forward. These candidates would be the best the country had to offer, and the choice would be made based on their skills and their record.
Of course, as with any political or economic system, once actual people get involved, the whole thing goes pear-shaped. A lot of voters aren’t informed, or limit their information to what they want to hear. A lot of the candidates aren’t interested in governing as much as they’re interested in winning, and in the end the whole thing is an exhausting endurance trial for everyone involved. Everyone on every side tries to game the system, adhering to the letter of the law rather than the spirit, and when it’s all over just shrug and say, “Well, that’s just how the game is played.”
But, as has often been said, of all the political systems on offer, it’s one of the best. And especially after yesterday, I’m thankful for it.
It is true that we are, in essence, exactly where we were before the election – Barack Obama in the White House, a Senate controlled by the Democrats but not locked down, and a House controlled by the Republicans. If the last couple of years are any indication, it looks like the way forward will remain much the same. A lot of gridlock and obstructionism, with each side complaining about how the other side isn’t playing fair, and how if only they would change their minds to think like we do, we could get work done. So there is that.
But look at all the good things that came of this election – and I’m sure I’ll miss a few:
- Three states – Maine, Maryland, and Washington – passed same-sex marriage bills. Minnesotans defeated an amendment that would have banned it altogether.
- Elizabeth Warren, who scares the pants off the big banks, beat Scott Brown, the pride of the Massachusetts GOP and favorite dress-up doll.
- Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin has become the first openly gay senator elected to office.
- The most vocal rape apologists, Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, were resoundingly defeated and rejected by voters.
- In my home state of Connecticut, Linda McMahon got a folding chair to the head from Chris Murphy, showing that flooding an election with money and being utterly ruthless doesn’t always win votes.
A rogue orcA candidate who was attacked for being a World of Warcraft player won her race for the state Senate in Maine. Don’t piss off the Horde.
- We almost got Michele “No, Seriously, She’s Out of Her Goddamn Mind” Bachmann thrown out of office. Here’s looking at you, 2014.
- Pretty soon we’ll get to watch as Colorado and Washington go to war with Washington DC over which is more important – the ever-treasured “states’ rights” or federal policy inertia.
- And most importantly, we kept an unprincipled plutocrat and his Ayn Rand love child from getting their hands on the rudder of the Ship of State.
I’m sure I missed some – sound off in the comments.
In general, I’ve always thought this: people, as individuals, are usually pretty smart. The People, in aggregate, are as dumb as a box of dead squirrels.  But I am always happy to be proven wrong on this point, and I would say that the 2012 election did a nice job of that.
 And thus ends my 2016 Presidential campaign.