I do feel a great deal of sympathy for the woman who complained that she's seen practically nothing but liberals bashing conservatives. It's no fun to hear nothing but what feels like personal attacks, and if you aren't decided, you're going to go to the side that's being quieter and less nasty. That's what eventually caused one of my co-workers to vote for Kerry - she was so sick of the conservatives bashing the liberals. However, I do hope that the woman in question realizes that the reason it's quite so prevalent on LJ is that for many of us, LJ is our safe space, our only forum to rant or vent and get sympathy from others who feel similarly. I was very lucky in the last month or so to be able to discuss politics in my office, when one co-worker realized I was a liberal and she could actually talk to me without being treated like she had three heads. New Jersey may be a "blue" state, but this county and this town are very strongly Republican. However, I haven't always had that freedom, and I certainly can't talk about my personal life to my co-workers.
I wish I could say I'm surprised by the way the national election turned out. I wish I could believe that enough people agree with me and my views to become a majority. However, while I did at least have hope this year, I'm not surprised that I am once again in the minority. What the country's leaders, including but not limited to the President, need to remember is that while they are the majority, it is by a very slim margin. The minority is very large, and clearly very vocal or the campaigning wouldn't have been so acrimonious. Even in some states that have not voted for Democrats in 20, 30, or 50 years, the results were still close enough that they couldn't be called until reporting was complete. This was not a mandate to continue exactly as the last four years have gone - this was a wakeup call to consider just how many people are very unhappy.
Of all the bits of election commentary that I heard, one bothered me more than most. I heard it first on the 700 Club - I don't listen often, and never for more than 10 minutes at a time, but tuning in to a media source with a strong and obvious bias in direct opposition to my own helps me maintain perspective - but again on network news. Paraphrased, the snippet runs something like "Approximately 20% of voters are 'values voters', voting on moral or family values, and nearly all of them vote Republican." The thing is, in this election, the gay, lesbian, and polyamorist voters who voted based on their family and moral values, along with other liberals who share or support those values even if it doesn't directly affect them, were considered "issue voters" rather than "values voters", because the definition of marriage was one of the major issues of this year's elections. Yes, they probably represent a smaller overall percentage, but I suspect that they are probably voting almost as completely Democratic as the other group is voting Republican - exceptions certainly existing on both sides, of course.
On a positive note, Mr. Obama, the rising star of the Democrats, had an overwhelming victory in his election. I didn't see the final figures, but his percentage was counted at something like 88% when I went to bed. This was expected, of course - he was campaigning for other candidates in other states because his own race was so secure. He is perhaps the most charismatic speaker I've seen in years. That includes Bill Clinton, who could charm the pants off just about any woman - literally, as it turned out. Obama's appeal is of a different nature. He comes across as honest, sincere, young but not inexperienced, and ready to work hard. He feels like a breath of fresh air, when most politicians are rather more reminiscent of pond scum. What's more, he conveys a message of hope, of the possibility of change, of the idea that reuniting a very divided nation might be possible. I would not be at all surprised to see him in the running for President in the 2012 or 2016 elections, although I think 2008 will be a little soon for him. I hope the U.S. holds together long enough for that to be possible.
Two science fiction writers come to mind as relevant at this time. Lois McMaster Bujold's Beta Colony has a politician known as Steady Freddy, and every time someone mentions him, they invariably add "I didn't vote for him." The other is Robert Heinlein, who wrote about a period he called the Crazy Years. Others will know better than I do, but to the best of my recollection, it was a time when politics went crazy, a religious movement took over the government, and the entire structure of the United States as a nation collapsed. We're living in the Crazy Years. And it could get worse, much worse, than is being projected. It's possible that it might not, and I do hope it doesn't, but we all need to be aware that it could.