Thoughts on Our Political 50/50

Election night, and Obama has just won his second term. While he trounced it in the electoral vote, the popular vote was nearly dead even. Which, when you think about it, is a really strange thing.

How is it that our nation has become so *perfectly* divided across tens of millions of votes, statistically speaking? Why not 48/52 (in either direction)? Or 40/60?. The perfect numbers split feels like the mathematical settling of a great pendulum, like Forces in Motion no longer in motion, like two bodies of water connected by a channel, finding their natural level. As if the system of checks and balances has counter-checked itself into submission. Like a left brain and a right brain connected by a corpus collosum. Both sides watch the red/blue map and wonder “Who are all these people who don’t see it my way? What drives them, what makes them tick?,” while really we’re just synapses in a global brain that’s finding its natural level. Not that that’s how I want it to be – of course I wish we didn’t have to fight for the environment, wish we didn’t have to fight for gay marriage, wish we didn’t have to fight to have a modicum of civilized health care, wish we didn’t have to fight to keep the middle class from vanishing. But regardless how I wish things were, just think it’s astonishing – almost magical – that we have settled into this perfect mathematical split. Feels like something deep and weird in the statistical nature of the world.

2 thoughts on “Thoughts on Our Political 50/50

  1. Of course, we now know that it wasn’t actually a perfect 50/50 split as it may have been as you watched this, but your point is still relevant.

    The day after the election I overheard a (very Republican) coworker bellyaching about the results. Normally I keep my mouth shut when I am subjected to the Fox News bubble noise (and I’m not trying to be inflammatory with that statement, he can be full-on birther, which is not a position I can rationalize with) coming out of his office, but I guess I felt particularly empowered that day.

    I heard him say “I don’t understand how these people can just believe what they are told…”, which is what caused me to gopher up out of my cubicle and say “You know, the possibility exists that everyone else just disagrees with you. The options are not limited to “you are correct” and “everyone else is an moron”.

    I would love to say that this moved him somehow, but it just knocked him off balance for a few seconds before he started talking about Obama’s lack of experience. I pointed out that he now had 4 years of experience, and he said he was talking about 2008. I slumped back down into my cubicle.

    I believe there is some contrary core in the human psyche that needs these divisions, that thrives on them. The amount of schadenfreude I felt on election night as the far right realized what the outcome was going to be was immense. I do feel guilty about this, but only so much. I honestly long for the days of the Republican party that didn’t run on all the social/religious policy but instead was truly about fiscal conservatism. But with their focus on gay rights, immigration, etc, I feel like any success they have is a leap backwards for the country. If the Republican party was focused on small government and fiscal conservatism I don’t feel like it would feel like such a “life or death” issue if one of my candidates lost.

  2. Thanks for ackwnowledging that the point is a relevant one Sean – no one on Facebook did! I think it’s too remarkable to be pure coincidence but no one seems to agree!

    Obama’s lack of experience? Sheesh, that’s a new one on me. He’s had as much experience as any candidate in 2008, but to say that now? Yikes.

    I’ve been thinking about all of the excused the pubs are laying out for why they lost (Sandy, Orca blow-up, etc.) and what strikes me is that NONE of them are wondering whether it just might be, oh I don’t know, their beliefs and policies that are off-putting?

    I agree completely – fiscal disagreements I can see, but the desire to control our ways of life – especially in the midst of crying for small government – is mean-spirited, arrogant, and hypocritical.

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