The more I reflect on the 2012 election, the more I believe that we are in some 21st century remake of Don Siegel’s Invasion of the BodySnatchers. That movie, released in 1956 was a cult science fiction classic, featuring an alien invasion of pod creatures, their goal to replicate and replace people, take over the world, and
establish a perfectly conformist society. In its day, some saw it as an allegory to the advance of worldwide Communism. Others, likely Communists themselves, scoffed at the idea that science fiction would actually incorporate real world politics into a storyline.
What made Siegel’s Invasion, and its 1974 remake so creepy was that what they started with was a normal, small town America, idyllic in its charm. But slowly, imperceptibly at first, people begin to transform from freedom-loving, God-fearing townsfolk to something less, something bland and – compliant, until ultimately when they found themselves in the majority they were leading their unwitting fellow citizens to the garden to meet their organically-grown twin, and demise.
This is another way of asking, “What has happened to our country?”
“We Are All Socialists Now,” read the February 6, 2009 cover of Newsweek Magazine. The author of the story, Jon Meacham, began with this statement: “In many ways our economy already resembles a European one. As boomers age and spending grows, we will become even more French.”
While we on the right laughed, we also braced ourselves for four years of a president who was decidedly the most radically left-leaning in American history, and whose party just happened to have control of the House and Senate.
Weeks later CNBC’s Rick Santelli uttered his famous call on the CME Group trading floor for a “Chicago tea party,” that would dump derivative securities into Lake Michigan. This lead to the Tea Party movement. That counter-revolution, in turn, lead to the GOP victories on 2010, which were in no way insignificant: Six seats won in the US Senate by the GOP and 60 in the US House. Michael Barone, writing for RealClearPolitics on November 8, 2010, added that the victory was not limited to federal races: “According to the National Conference on State Legislatures, Republicans gained about 125 seats in state senates and 550 seats in state houses -- 675 seats in total.” This was the greatest GOP gain since 1928.
“Tea Party momentum will carry the GOP to victory in 2012,” they said.
“If unemployment stays above eight percent in a presidential election cycle, the incumbent will not win,” they said.
“If the Washington Redskins lose their last home game prior to the election, the incumbent president will lose,” they said.
And then, on November 7th, 2012, Rush Limbaugh declared that the American people voted to re-elect Santa Claus.
So the question, are there more pod-people than not?
I am in the car business, and in my estimation the recession hit that industry a good two years before it hit everyone else. The Great Recession is still alive and kicking. There has been no recovery, only the anemic writhing of an entity vaguely resembling an economy.
If the economy is so bad, then why did Barack Obama get re-elected?
Why did Franklin Roosevelt get re-elected three times? Why did he continue to throw money at the Great Depression to no avail, and then be continually
returned to the White House? Striking is the quote by his Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau, Jr. who lamented: “I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started…And an enormous debt to boot.”
The biggest motivator in this election cycle was fear -- fear from a loss of personal wealth, retirement, jobs, and home foreclosures.
Many have cited Morgenthau’s quote, but another part of his desperate statement needs to be considered: “I want to see this country prosperous. I want to see people get a job. I want to see people get enough to eat. We have never
made good on our promises.”
Perhaps this is where Barack Obama has played a better hand than did Roosevelt. Who is hungry? More people and more people that I know
personally have now accepted and embraced their EBT cards, not as a temporary
hand up during bad times, but as a benefit of being an American. In August of this year the benignly named SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) rolls increased to 46.67 million Americans, the USDA reported.
Another benefit of being an American will be healthcare, no small contribution to the psychology of dependence. And let us not forget educational assistance and mortgage assistance, housing assistance, Obamaphones, and any in the long list of other goodies now provided or mandated by the federal government. Our spirit as a nation has been tamped down by hard times, yet salved by our federal benefactors.
And Mitt Romney was going to take all that away, kill his employees, and Paul Ryan was going to roll grandma in her wheelchair over a cliff.
We Are All Pod-People Now.
Does that mean the end of the GOP? Not yet, nor does it mean that the Republicans become the squishy European “center-right” parties that can only present themselves as the fiscally responsible defenders of the welfare state. However, the right can ill-afford to run the campaigns of 2008 and 2012. McCain was a good man, but he was a product of Washington. Romney will go down in my mind as the greatest president we’ll never have, but he, like McCain, fell
victim to the DC consultant class. That consultant class will always get paid, even in defeat. But America will have to suffer the results, in a land where eight percent unemployment is a “new normal,” two percent expansion in GDP is considered good, and the garden where the pod-people are grown readies for its next bumper crop.