I started getting pounded with extremely bitter e-mails, hostile texts and over-the-top phone messages immediately after the networks called the election for Obama. By the time I got to work the next morning, my various mailboxes were jam-packed with some of the nastiest, wackiest vitriol I have ever read or heard. More than a week later, it hasn’t slowed down.
For me, the biggest surprise is that conservatives were blindsided by the election results. Most of the ones who contacted me were astounded that Mitt Romney lost. They had no idea it was remotely possible that he might not win, let alone that he could receive an electoral spanking like the one administered on election night. According to news reports, Romney, too, was shell-shocked. And, of course, the nitwits of conservative media were dumbfounded … which is not that hard to imagine.
My guess is that Romney allowed too much smoke to be blown up his ass by hired-gun pollsters and consultants, some of the same ones who were openly boasting on Fox News about what a magnificent victory it was going to be, to the point they were already talking about who would get what job in the Romney administration. I watched the on-set carnage on election night and the next day, and it is clear they all had no clue that an ass-whooping was coming. Maybe Bill Maher is right — they do live in a bubble, an information vacuum in which people tune in to Rush or Hannity to hear reinforcement for what they already believe, rather than actual news about what is really happening in the world.
Any nonsensical hope we may have had about moving forward now that the election is over, about getting beyond the rancor now that the people have spoken, was dispelled the moment I turned on my work computer. The first e-mail was from a Nevada conservative I’ve come to know, informing me that even though the election results were in, Obama still isn’t he president because he isn’t an American citizen. Really? There are still people other than Donald Trump who are seething about the birth-certificate thing? Are you shitting me?
And then the bile really started flowing. The election was rigged, several e-mailers informed me. The “blacks” in Chicago and Philly had stolen Romney ballots, they told me. Millions of active-duty military members didn’t have their votes counted, the Tea Party said in an e-mail. The whole thing is Chris Christie’s fault because he was nice to that you-know-who. Or maybe it was God’s wrath against America that caused Hurricane Sandy to change the course of the election. (I did not have the heart to tell those folks that if God sent Sandy to help Obama, then we know which side God is on.)
And on it went. Former Saturday Night Live cast member Victoria Jackson was so overwrought that she sent several tweets declaring “America died” that night. American didn’t merely catch a cold or even pneumonia — it rolled over and died, according to Victoria. Walking hairpiece and professional blowhard Donald Trump advocated revolution in the streets. A woman in Arizona was so mad about her husband’s failure to vote for Romney that she ran him down with her car. And now that Obama has been re-elected, the U.N. troops will be rolling into town any day to take away our guns.
Sadly, I’m not making any of this up.
By Monday, the secession movement was in full swing. The first e-mail I received about it was from Louisiana, and by Tuesday, similar “movements” had begun in at least 20 states. Thousands of people were signing an online petition to demand that their states be allowed to secede from the USA, and it seems like quite a few of them actually believe that by signing something online, they are participating in a genuine secession program. As of Tuesday evening, nearly 7,000 Nevadans had signed and seem pretty proud of themselves for doing so.
So this is what became of the “America: Love It or Leave It” crowd? They don’t like the election results so they want to dissolve the country? It is tempting to let them go, isn’t it? I suspect the states that have the most people willing to leave are the same states that have either done it before, resulting in a little thing called the Civil War, or are states that would not fare all that well as their own sovereign nations. To be fair, I heard more than a few liberals griping prior to the election that they might leave the country if they had to utter the unimaginable words “President Mitt.” And I can attest there were legions of lefties ready to bail on the homeland when W. won a second term.
The political talk shows are all blabbing about what the GOP needs to do to regain its relevance, what they can do to seduce Hispanics, how to close the gender gap. What I don’t hear is much soul-searching about the issues that drove women and Hispanics to the Dems. All I hear is what it will take to get enough of them to switch sides so the GOP can win elections. The sincerity is a bit underwhelming.
As for the Republicans transforming themselves into a kinder, gentler, Big Tent operation, the outpouring of anger I’ve experienced this week suggests that it won’t happen anytime soon, and the GOP has no one to blame but itself for willingly taking this long, slow walk down Crazy Street.
I like talking to conservatives about what used to be their core issues — fiscal responsibility, smaller government, stuff like that. But the party made a deal with the devil when it forged alliances with various hardcore nutballs and social wackadoos. I watched a newscast a few nights ago in which anti-abortion activists announced they had “internal polling data” to show that Romney lost because he was not strong enough in his opposition to abortion. They think they can win the next time so long as the GOP candidate gets really, really tough on abortion, tougher than Romney-Ryan’s total opposition to all abortion, even if the woman is raped and impregnated by her own father, who is a space alien.
The GOP has fed, nurtured and raised the wackadoo caucus for many years. It has embraced the Tea Party, courted the abortion fanatics, winked at the racists and tolerated the most vile, un-American obscenities imaginable. And now, the little monster is all grown up and has decided to act like a hoodlum. There is no going back from what the GOP has created. The party can look for reasonable candidates, centrists even, but the same lunatic fringe will come out in force during the primaries to make sure that the wackiest possible candidates get into the general election, and to make sure that a fairly reasonable presidential candidate like Mitt Romney has to tilt so far to the right to win the election that he can never get back to the center.
It would be great to have the GOP back, to engage in fact-based, adult-level discussions about big issues, chats that do not involve the wishes of invisible deities, because our country is stronger when there are two rational points of view to evaluate. That’s not what we have now, and it isn’t going to be that way again any time soon.
To all of you who want to leave the country, no one is stopping you. But remember — liberals survived eight years of Bush. The country will still be here after eight years of Obama.
GEORGE KNAPP is a Peabody Award-winning investigative reporter for KLAS Channel 8. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org