Our long national nightmare of an election (apologies to Gerald Ford for this phrase; apologies to Robinson Jeffers for the title to this post) is over at last, and the result is: there is no result. Nothing has happened. The president is the same, the Senate is the same, the House is the same, and, alas, we are the same. We have the dubious assurance that not only has nothing happened, but nothing will happen, either, as it seems those who govern us will largely remain those who govern us, and nothing is to be expected from them. And as we remain governed by them, nothing may be expected from us.
Perhaps, in this case, nothing is better than something. One of the reasons our mildly interesting but not very inspiring president was the victor may well be the fact that the unfortunate Mr. Romney, who seems a pragmatist in the common sense of that word, was required to bleat comforting words to the increasingly isolated but disturbingly predominate, zealous, and backward members of the Republican party in order to gain his nomination. He was then required to tolerate, if not actively support, certain of them who ran for office and took it upon themselves to make indefensible and in some senses bizarre comments while doing so. He evidently felt it necessary to appear to be one of these anachronisms, until the final days of the race.
I like to think that if he had been elected, Romney would have managed at least to disregard the Floyd Turbos of his party. But anyone with a minimal grasp of reality must understand that such folk are increasingly becoming an (increasingly disgruntled) minority in the politics of the United States, and indeed the politics of the world in general. Social conservatism (as opposed to political conservatism) which demands the cooperation of the government in stopping change and social freedom is no longer viable, and should not be. The simple ignorance which is the basis for much of this is bound to dissipate. Too much information is available and accessible. Too much is changing and will change. One can no longer stand athwart history and yell "Stop!" in this respect, at least (apologies to William F. Buckley, Jr.)
It must also be acknowledged that there has been a certain hysteria involved in much of the criticism of our continuing president. It has been hyperbolic, exclamatory and even weird. He's a socialist, a traitor, a foreigner, a Muslim. There is little or nothing to back up such claims. My memory doesn't go back to the days of McCarthy; perhaps similar frenzy was the rule back then as well. But rhetoric of this kind is born of ignorance, hatred and fear of that which is different, and these emotions are not conducive to thought. They are, rather, conducive to efforts to repress.
Indeed, there is some indication that individual freedom from traditionalistic restraints gained ground in this election cycle; witness votes in favor of allowing gays to marry and legalizing marijuana. But other restraints remain, and the danger arising from the seemingly irrepressible urge of some to use government to save us from ourselves becomes more potent. Also, we're increasingly in thrall to the very wealthy and therefore very powerful, and this is the case because both Democrats and Republicans are nearly their feudal vassals. The Obama campaign is said to have received more money than the Romney campaign, and its doubtful that most of this came from the poor and disadvantaged. There are exceedingly rich people who are ideological Democrats, but just as interested in protecting and increasing their money and their ability to influence life because they have money as are ideological Republicans.
The fact that these two parties are essentially thralls to a small segment of the population and are interested in remaining so bound makes it difficult for third parties to exist and function in American politics, and this is one of the great defects of our system. It may be the case that Democrats are generally more sympathetic to the idea of change, but their idea of change is too often change through the imposition of government controls and restrictions. The Republicans maintain they seek limited government, but the limitations they seek to impose are too often limitations which have as their purpose benefiting only a few who are already benefited.
Thus far, it seems that most of us are content to let this continue. There will be no significant change until this changes.