Friday, October 31, 2008

Fright Night and the Polls.

Whoever decided that election day should be held in the first week of November had a very cynical sense of humor. If the prospect of change in the political realm isn't frightening enough for many people, the celebration of the darker side of life that occurs on the weekend before the polls open should help raise anxiety levels. I have always loved Halloween. The holiday is the one throwback to the wild Pagan festivals that history suggests were so much fun. From early childhood I have learned to expect the offering of either tricks or treats. There is the sense that anything is possible. The same dynamic applies to politics. Strong opinions abound, and some will find their hopes met, while others will find them thwarted.

So in the spirit of this special day, I'd like to ask the reader about what they fear most on this coming Tuesday. It should come as no surprise that voters all along the spectrum have plenty of nightmare scenarios to choose from. Obviously they range from the realistic to the perverse. For some reason this cycle has presented us with an inordinate amount of speculation regarding worst-case situations, regardless of who wins the presidency. From my biased position, I would suggest that the McCain campaign has worked harder to stoke fears on their side. Like it or not, he occupies the establishment position during this contest, and so he has been forced to paint his opposition as the manifestation of particularly scary change.

Some of the predictions emanating from the Far Right are so breathless that they seem absurd. I've seen and heard multiple accounts of how Barack Obama will change the United States into a Socialist Republic. He'll make rich people cede their wealth to welfare recipients, and no one will have any incentive to make money anymore. Among the Christian Right, a common sentiment is that the Senator from Illinois will reveal his secretly-held devotion to Islam and make Christianity illegal forever hereafter. The Christian Reformationist Dr. James Dobson (founder and leader of Focus on the Family) predicts "hardship," "persecution" and "suffering" for Christians if Obama becomes president.

Interestingly, religious leaders have also been enflaming the fears of Jews who are still undecided about who to vote for. They have made repeated attempts to link Obama to supposed "associates" who have been perceived as vehemently anti-Israel. No matter how many times the candidate has reasserted his support for our Middle Eastern ally, wingnuts like "Joe the (Tax-Dodging) Plumber" continue to issue grave and unfounded warnings. Obviously such tools of the Republican Party get their marching orders from the top. John McCain's fear-based politics have been intentionally crafted to bring out the very worst paranoid delusions in his followers. I could fill up at least a hundred posts with more examples.

Even if John McCain were to mount an increasingly unlikely comeback, some of his supporters fear a widespread uprising and riots among African-Americans. On the opposite side, McCain's detractors worry that the Arizona senator might die in office, leaving the nation in the hands of his singularly unqualified running mate. Others are afraid that he will signal his approval for Israeli air attacks on Iran, which would likely lead to World War III. My own horror involves McCain prevailing and giving an acceptance speech that culminates with him tearing his own leathery face off, only to reveal that he is actually George W. Bush. Finally, the only prospect of an Obama presidency that provokes my anxiety is the small minority that may wish him harm.

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Anonymous Steve said...

Happy Halloween, Merge.

BTW - Session 9 = amazing. The scariest part was thinking about it just after it ended.

7:04 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...


Happy Halloween! I'm glad you liked it. I always get a charge out of recommending something that somebody ends up liking. That movie stayed with me for DAYS. In fact, I was so impressed the first time I saw it that I immediately watched it again when it was over. That's extremely rare for me.

8:37 PM  
Blogger Warm Apple Pie said...

Merge, great post as always. Enjoy the "Liberal Fright Fest" this weekend as The Potatoe is dubbing it. We give you a first installment of "On The Record" chronicling the last gasps of GOP hubris (we hope).

8:45 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

warm apple pie,

Thanks for reading, and leaving a comment. I needed it tonight.

I was out talking to my neighbors while they were giving out candy...
nice folks... hard working and honest, and always eager to lend a hand. Life-long Democrats too. But they're voting for McCain. Why? Because they don't like "niggers". How do I know that? Because that's what they said. They even elaborated on their initial comment: "If the Democrats would have just run an ordinary white guy, we'd be voting for him. No women. No blacks". And then they threw in another nugget- it bothers them that when Obama was sworn into the Senate, he did it on a Koran. I asked them where they heard or read that. No solid answer. Blank stares. Then they said "Everywhere". Yikes. If people are voting for McCain, and they can explain rational reasons that have a solid relationship with reality... then I can accept it. But I have a hard time when people vote out of ignorance. Arggghh.

9:28 PM  
Anonymous Steve said...

"...I live in the weak and the wounded."

Just typing those words kind of creeps me out.

12:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Halloween originated in the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. The festival denoted the end of the harvest season in the Gaelic culture. Conventionally, these people thought that 31st October was the day when the distance between the living and the dead softened. Hence, they believed that the dangerous spirits might cause great harm to them and their crops."

Hmmmm...does this portend that the election might be a lot closer than predicted? :-)


8:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Constitution (Article II Section I) provided that Congress would determine the date of appointment of electors. In 1845, "Congress enacted a law providing that Tuesday after the first Monday of November "of the year in which they (the electors) are to be appointed" as the national election day. Since the United States was still a rural nation at that time, Congress also provided that the election be held in November, when the crops had been harvested and the spring planting had not yet been started."

The more I read, the more I see the possible connection. :-)

8:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, you asked for what we fear if one or the other candidate is elected. Here are some initial thoughts.

If McCain is elected..
1. Given the overwhelming Democratic majority, nothing gets done. Normally I'd suggest this is a good thing, but given the circumstances we find ourselves in, not so much.
2. He is rendered incapable of serving his term (politically correct way of saying that he would die in office), and well, you know what.
3. Some people are just sore losers. There are riots across the country, in cities and college campuses.

If Obama wins...
1. He would face a constant threat of being fired at. If it ever happened, it would likely be a Pro-Life fanatic...go figure.
2. The marginal tax rate for the highest bracket of wage earners goes from 36% to 39%, and increase of $30 for every $1,000 they earn over $250,000. Wait, that's not a real problem.
3. The Democrats are in complete control, and government gets bigger with more and more regulations. Well, not all of that would be so bad.
4. Within 180 days, there will be a law requiring all Americans to convert to Muslim, Korans will replace Bibles in all courts. [Just kidding!!!]
5. On a serious note, I believe Biden's gaffe about Obama being tested resulted in his inability to keep a secret. You must know people that just have to say inside stuff to make themselves look powerful? I have little doubt that all four candidates were briefed on the possibilities and history (Clinton and Bush were both tested with terrorist acts in their first years). When Palin responded to a reporter with "I don't know what he was talking about, I believe she did, but unlike Biden could keep her mouth. shut. That being said, such a test could happen regardless of who is elected. Not something I'm looking forward to.

9:07 AM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...


Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the topic.

12:42 PM  

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