I suppose, in some sense of the word, what happened on Nov. 6 was a deeply conservative election.
Not in any ideological sense, but a majority of Americans clearly believed that if they kept President Obama in office, then nothing will change.
That is, all the current federal panoply of benefits will keep on rolling like an ever-flowing waterfall of dollars, showering its benefits on everyone beneath, forever and ever, amen.
So, as the party of Hope and Change morphed into the party of “We hope nothing changes,” those who kept warning of the fiscal rapids ahead were tossed out of the boat by those who believed the captain’s hollow promises of continued seaworthiness.
Far be it from me to cast precipitation on anyone’s parade — Democrats deserve everything they have earned from this victory, and they will get it (along with the rest of us, unfortunately) — but there are some clearly identifiable losers worth mentioning.
I offer this in the spirit of one of my former co-workers, an editorial writer who once said that our profession was comparable to the military officers who, in the days before modern medicine, were sent around after a battle to shoot the wounded.
So, here they are.
• Republicans: The GOP, despite its continued control of the U.S. House of Representatives, doesn’t have a clear path to recovery that’s consistent with its past.
Of course, like the prospect of imminent execution, losing a major political campaign “wonderfully concentrates the mind,” as Samuel Johnson put it.
But where does the party go from here?
It nominated its leading “moderate,” an experienced businessman and former governor with a stellar private life — and watched him campaign moderately and go down to a moderate (but very final) defeat.
Is that to say a staunch conservative would have done better?
Not at all. But if the GOP doesn’t find a way to get its message across better (including giving its minority members, particularly Hispanics, a larger leadership role), it will be replaced by some new organization that will.
But that is for the future.
And in the meantime, the GOP House, unless it caves to the Democrats at the start, will be demonized without relief for “blocking” the Democratic agenda.
• Doctors and other health care workers (and their patients): The takeover of health insurance by Obamacare will depress earnings, leading fewer to enter the medical profession, while hospitals reduce services and some even close their doors due to controls on compensation.
• Job-seekers: The prospects for an economic recovery anything like the robust periods that followed previous recessions now seem dimmer than ever (and they were dim before). We should change the name of the District of Columbia to “West Athens” and be done with it.
• Taxpayers: People think that “the 1 percent” is the sole target of liberals’ big guns, but as so many economists have pointed out, there isn’t anywhere near enough money to be taken from those who earn above $250,000 to begin to pay for what we’re spending now — not to mention what we’ll be spending in years to come.
Ergo, lots of people at lower income levels (among the 51 percent who still pay income taxes, that is) are going to see their payments rise in order to keep everyone else’s government checks coming.
• Devout Christians and Jews (and many others): The move to exclude religious views from public life, as contrary to our history as it is, nevertheless has gained momentum with the failure of the Catholic Church to persuade a majority of its members to resist the administration’s assault on their liberties.
In addition, with the passage of same-sex marriage in Maine and its approval elsewhere (though it’s by no means universally accepted yet), people will face new and increasing assaults on the practice of their faith in public life, in an attempt to redefine the First Amendment as limited to “freedom of worship” (which applies only inside the doors of a church or synagogue).
There are plenty of other losers, notably Israelis (who now face their enemies with less support and with war much more likely); Europeans (who will find fewer buyers for their economic output as the U.S. economy sputters); and our military and its contractors (who will face severe reductions in resources, leaving the nation in much worse shape to handle threats abroad).
• Finally, yes, Democrats: As one humorist noted before Nov. 5, “If Obama wins, think of the mess he’s going to inherit.” Exit polls seemed to show that half of Obama’s supporters said the current economy was “George Bush’s fault,” but that delusion will fade quickly now that Democrats finally have to own what they have created.
Accountability has found a home, and it’s entirely inside the Beltway.
M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a free-lance writer and speaker. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org