As Barack Obama entered the final week of campaigning, he told voters who "booed" Mitt Romney when his name was mentioned, "Don't boo...vote, its the best revenge". This set off right-wing commentators and the Romney campaign into a tizzy of outrage, or at least mock outrage, something they muster up on a moments notice to agitate their frenzied base. Mitt Romney stirred up crowds, chastising the President and saying to his supporters "vote for love of country not revenge". However, after contemplating things over the week end, I have a confession to make. I am a revenge voter, and I am pretty sure I am not the only one.
I am voting for Barack Obama for a number of reasons. For one, I am not a millionaire. Second, I care about protecting a woman's right to choose, even though I am not a woman. I am not gay but I think gays and lesbians should be able to marry who they want. There are a number of issues where I believe the President's position is better than his opponent's position. However, beyond all the issues there is the revenge factor. I will not deny it. You see I was the victim of bullying in Junior High and High School, and when I look at Mitt Romney and his surrogates I see bullies.
How else do you describe a guy who used to pin down effete looking kids to maliciously cut off their hair? How else do you describe somebody who thinks it is a funny practical joke to impersonate a police officer and pull people over on the highway? How else do you describe somebody who straps his dog in a crate to the top of his car for a twelve hour trip and does not allow the dog to relieve himself outside of the crate?
Mitt Romney is a bully. So are many of his supporters. Sure I know Barack Obama is not without bullying qualities. Yes, like nearly every American President before him he has ordered miltary strikes on innocent civilians. To be sure this is not an admirable quality. But for all his faults, Mr. Obama's bullying is not on the same scale as that of the right-wing Republicans who oppose him. He does not belittle rape victims or denigrate gays and lesbians or put up barriers for black people to vote. He does not demonize Latin immigrants or engage in hysterial anti-Muslim rhetoric. He does not bust unions and attack teachers, fire fighters and postal workers. He may not be a working class guy, but he is not an overprivileged bully at least. If he was, after graduating from Harvard, he would have worked for a corporate law firm and helped banks foreclose on people's homes, instead of becoming a community organizer in South Chicago.
So my vote for Barack Obama is in part about revenge. It will be revenge against people like the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson, arrogant billionaires who insist that they can not pay a penny more in taxes to help the country because it will be burdensome to them, yet they can afford to literally throw millions upon millions of dollars into an election to protect the pennies they say they can not spare. It will be revenge against Mormon missionaries and Christian fundamentalists of all stripes who find it necessary to bang on my door early in the morning as I am recovering from a hangover to arrogantly declare that I must join their reactionary faith or be consigned to eternal damanation. But most of all it will be revenge against the pundits on FOX News and the opponents of science and math who declare global climate change a hoax, and who assert that the female body is equipped to shut down fertility in the face of rape.
As the campaign enters the final phase, the race is not even about the economy any more for me. It is about defending reason, logic, science and the nerds who embrace it. Nowhere is this clearer than in the world of polling science. On the side of science is the probabilty model offered by Nate Silver. Silver, who might fit in with the characters Sheldon and Leonard on the Big Bang Theory show, is the epitome of a math nerd. Yet, he has a proven track record based on sound algorithms and statistcial modeling to predict elections accurately. For this he has earned the wrath of right-wingers who not only want to kill the message but also the messenger. Some of the attacks were personal in nature. Right wing blogger Dean Chambers attacked Silver's probabilty models with the bizarre argument that "Nate Silver is a man of very small stature, a thin and effeminate man with a soft-sounding voice that sounds almost exactly like the 'Mr. New Castrati' voice used by Rush Limbaugh on his program. In fact, Silver could easily be the poster child for the New Castrati in both image and sound." Ah yes, instead of addressing the strength of Silver's model, Chambers instead seethes with unconcealed bigotry that the probability model must be wrong because Nate Silver looks to Dean Chambers like a "fag".
But Chambers is in good company with Rush Limbaugh who routinely calls women "sluts" and with Romney himself who surely would have gotten his jollies cutting a guy like Nate Silver's hair back in his college days. While the skirmisches between dueling pollsters and pundits may seem silly or inconsequential, it is symptomatic of a larger problem. Dean Chambers, Michael Barone, Joe Scarborough, Karl Rove, George Will, Dick Morris and others who forecast a Romney victory are engaged in faith based polling and they feel threatened by any model that dares to challenge their alternate universe where Mitt Romney is winning, so they attack the science of forecasting itself and those who practice it. Yet, probability models have value. They are used to forecast the weather short term or to estimate the effects of climate change long term. But therein lies the problem, the right-wing shows nothing but disdain for science and for probability statistics because they do not say what right-wingers want them to say.
However, those of us nerds and geeks who live in the reality based community, want a President who is not afraid of science or logic. There are not any all geek focus groups and they do not poll us like they do soccer moms or NASCAR dads or other such amalgamations of people. I will admit that there are better reasons to vote for President Obama than simply because my vote will be defending Nate Silver's polling model. Nevertheless, I will admit that even though my mind is programmed for a dispassionate logical calculus that has served me well, a small part of me is voting to defend the use of probabilty models and to score revenge against those who disparage those models and the people who produce them. The model says four more years. Learn to deal with it, it is our revenge.