Pauline Kael’s comment about not understanding how Nixon was elected because nobody she knew had voted for him is often cited as a demonstration of the New York City elites’ disconnect from America, of their life in a bubble. Tonight, it seems, I’m the one in a bubble.
Although I live in one of the bluest of blue states, I live in a community that voted 60/40 for Mitt Romney. Most of my colleagues at work are practical people who solve real world problems, technicians and engineers, and who also were overwhelmingly for Romney. Of course, I knew folks who voted for Obama. My house is near a college campus, and the scientists and paper pushers at work tend to be Democrats, but I spend most of my time isolated among above average people who deal with the real world as it comes and not as they wish it were.
The conversations I heard around the office coffee pot and the checkout lines at WalMart led me to believe that Americans were beginning to remember that there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch and that realistic leadership was necessary to get a bloated government off of our backs so that we could again be truly productive. It felt like 1980. I thought Mitt Romney would win.
2012 was like 1980 in all but one important respect. Demographics. We are no longer the country we were. The values of the body politic have changed. And so we appear to have voted for four more years like the last four.
I hope the choice we have made is the result of the electorate not understanding the nature of the country’s problems. Ignorance is curable. It responds to proper doses of education. Perhaps four more years will cure us before we do ourselves in. If, OTOH, we now have an electorate incapable of understanding, we’re in a helluva mess. There’s no cure for stupid.