I'll bet one of the most-often used words in the recently concluded national election was "STUFF." Yes, stuff. I'm sick of hearing about keeping stuff and giving away stuff. I'm sick of hearing who deserves stuff and who doesn't deserve stuff. I'm sick of hearing the word stuff on local and national media all day long. I'm sick of hearing the word stuff in robocalls. I'm sick of reading the word stuff in political junk mail. Discover why I decided to write a diary about this below that burnty orangey hopey changey whatchamacallit.
I recently participated in a few lengthy post-election discussions (who hasn't?) about how close or not close this election was, and whether it was like 2004 or 2008. Inevitably one reaches a comment saying Obama just wants to give people stuff, I asked myself what "stuff" did that person mean? My inner light blub came on and said, look up the meaning of "stuff." So I did, and this is what was found:
1. The material out of which something is made or formed; substance.
2. The essential substance or elements; essence: "We are such stuff/As dreams are made on" (Shakespeare).
3. Unspecified material: Put that stuff over there.
4. Household or personal articles considered as a group.
5. Worthless objects.
6. Special capability: The team really showed its stuff and won the championship.
7. Money; cash.
8. A drug, especially one that is illegal or habit-forming.
9. A basketball dunk.
The aforementiond discussions also went on about how the Republican Party is toast. Maybe, but probably not. I hope its current morph is, but a two-party system is better than a one-party system. I decided to look at what "stuff" was promised by the winner of other close elections. The closest post-WWII elections, in order by vote difference between winner and loser, have been 1960, 1968, 1948, 2004 and 2012.
In 1960, Kennedy's "stuff" was civil rights, collective bargaining, increased minimum wages, lifting of immigration restrictions, more pay for teachers, and more aid for the aged, farmers and small businessmen. In 1968, Nixon"s "stuff" was law and order and an end to the Vietnam War. Truman's 1948 "stuff" is explained below. In 2004, George W. Bush's "stuff" centered around keeping us safe by continuing the Iraq/Afghanistan wars and support for the Patriot Act. Bush's other "stuff" included banning abortion, banning same-sex marriage, privatizing Social Security, creating an ownership society, opposing mandatory carbon emissions controls, and a guest worker program for immigrants. In 2012, Obama's "stuff" was keeping jobs in the USA from going overseas, rebuilding America's infrastructure, investing in education/teachers, pursuing and killing terrorists, ending the Afghanistan war, a veterans job corps, preserving the right to chose on abortion, preserving affordable birth control, preserving/improving Obamacare, keeping Social Security and Medicare public, promoting energy independence through renewable energy, and comprehensive immigration reform.
I've read a few places that 2012 emulates 1948 more than the other close elections mentioned. Truman won despite all the polling indicating Dewey would win. Gallup showed Dewey ahead by 5% on election day. Remember the famous "Dewey Defeats Truman" headline in the Chicago Tribune? Reminds me of Karl Rove's behavior on FOX as the election was called while he was still spinning wrong numbers regarding Romney and Ohio. Truman campaigned on a "do nothing" Republican Congress trying to stall him out. Dewey was a wealthy businessman who ran a nasty campaign in 1944 against FDR and the New Deal. His effort to appear less combative in 1948 was not effective. The voters didn't buy it. Sound familiar to 2012?
FYI, Truman won by 2,188,000 votes which was a much larger (4.7% vs 2.3%) margin of the total vote than Obama's this year. His coalition included unions, Jews, the South and farmers. The South got "stuff" from the New Deal (TVA, western dams and water projects, etc.) and were still thankful. The civil rights granted in the 1960s neutralized the New Deal for southern Democrats in 1968 and beyond.Southern white anger over losing their human "stuff" trumped all.
Farmers supported Truman for two reasons. They got "stuff" such as water projects out west via the New Deal. He also fought off attempts to undo the Agricultural Adjustment Act, thus keeping fair ratios between prices paid for their goods and their costs to run their farms. Farmers did not go for Obama in 2012, fearing the "stuff" they get now will be reduced for giveaways to cities. This might have been enforced by the 2012 drought and a refusal/inability to rise above racial stereotypes regarding getting "stuff.".
Unions supported Truman because he vetoed the Taft-Hartley Act the year before, and promised to repeal it after Congress overrode it. Their support for Obama in 2012 was enhanced by corporations shipping jobs overseas and efforts in Ohio/Wisconsin to severely restrict or outlaw collective barganing by public employees.
The Jews supported Truman because the "stuff" he gave them was rebuilding post-war Europe and an Israeli state in the Middle East. They supported Obama in 2012, not only because of his continued efforts regarding Israel, its Arab neighbors and Iran, but his domestic policies better fit their general views.
The Blacks supported Truman because he rose above his racist upbringing to form a Civil Rights Committee in 1947 and was the first President to address the NAACP. The "stuff" he gave them was a Federal Government dedicated to ending racial discrimination. The Armed Forces were integrated just after the election.
Lincoln took away South's human "stuff" in 1863 by proclaiming all slaves free. FDR gave them their TVA-type public works "stuff" in the 1930s. Truman started to take away more their "stuff" in 1947. LBJ took away their institutional barriers ("stuff") for discrimination. Now they believe Obama wants to take their monetary "stuff" and give it to their former human "stuff." And he reminds a few of them of the human "stuff" they lost.
Yes, elections are all about "stuff" and who gets it. But they are also about what kind of "stuff" is wanted or threatened to be taken away. The military-industrial complex and deregulated large corporations/banks have bought out politicians at an accelerating rate. Middle class wealth (houses, retirement plans, etc.) "stuff" has been slowly taken away over 30 years and more rapidly over the last decade. The 2012 election was about fairness "stuff" more than monetary "stuff." You wouldn't know that listening to the media. Fairness won, but all we are hearing is changing demographics.
The essence of America is its dream. Obama's campaign "stuff" was more about the dream than Romney's campaign. It was more about fairness in the opportunity to try for the dream than Romney's campaign. Romney's campaign focused on monetary/materialistic "stuff" when the important "stuff" this year is found in definitions #1, #2 and #6. The only stuff we want is fairness, respect and fewer barriers to try for the dream. And we want a media that isn't focused so much on political entertainment and "horse race" elections as it is the truth.
Hope and change were planted in 2008. The "do-nothing Congress" was the fertilizer. The win in 2012 can be the sunshine and water. People don't stand in a voting line for hours on end unless the promised "stuff" means something positive in their lives. Romney and his Republican Party promised "stuff" to big oil, big business and racists, Good signs: David Frum calling for the Republican Party and its complicit conservative entertainment complex to change their ways and William Kristol actually saying billionaires might need to be taxed a bit more.
Look over that list again and think about what definition(s) of "stuff" most influenced your decision in 2012.
Haven't done a diary in a long time. Hope you follow my drift with this one.