The morning after, while soberly watching the post-game analysis on MSNBC, the pithy Morning Joe hosts seemed not only resolved at the outcome of the previous night’s debate, but slightly relieved if not contrite about the obvious fact that President Obama didn’t just lose the debate, Mitt Romney won it. Decisively.
A deep sense of dread began to grow in the pit of my stomach.
In the days that followed, the debate’s outcome was viewed in matter-of-fact terms by all the network talking heads and became grist for the late night humor mill. SNL dedicated its entire “cold opening” to the debate, with Jay Pharoah playing the role of an altitude sick Obama, distracted by his wedding anniversary, mentally checked out to the 60 million or so watching from their living rooms. Funny stuff, and yet, the acid-pain in my gut continued to burn.
The poll numbers that came out days later told a less humorous story. Monday’s Real Clear Politics composites showed support for Romney had jumped from 44 percent to 47 percent in general election polling over the course of a week, while Obama’s support had dropped a point to 48.5 percent. The gap between the blue line and the red line was closing fast.
Had Romney turned this thing around? Could he actually win the election? The possibility hadn’t dawned on me until that very moment. President Romney. It already was beginning to have a ring of familiarity to it.
With less than a month until Election Day I should tell you where my affiliations lie, even though if Romney does win this election, beyond the obvious shifts in the country’s philosophical direction, I can’t see how it will impact me personally. I hate to sound cold, but it’s true. Let’s go through the list.
I’m a man. My basic human rights do not hang in the balance with this election. No one is making decisions that directly involve what I do with my body. No one is looking down on me condescendingly, patting me on my head, and deciding what’s best for me and my gender, and conversely, for his gender.
I’m white. I was born in America. So was my family. I will never have to fear the sound of a baton knocking on my door in the middle of the night while a van idles in the street waiting to carry me back across the border, away from my family, away from my life.
I’m employed at a company that has a solid financial foundation that will be around long after I’m gone. I’ve worked there since the ‘80s. I like what I do, and I’m good at it. I make more money than I really need. I own my house. I have virtually no debt. I covet nothing except good health, and do everything I can to maintain it. But if something goes wrong, my company offers terrific health care benefits. A hospital bed awaits if ever I need one, without care of personal financial impact. I will be taken care of. So will my wife.
I’ve been investing in various retirement plans — 401Ks and SEP IRAs — for more than 20 years. I’m vested in my company’s pension program, as well as in a solvent federal retirement program (not Social Security) that is in no danger of going bankrupt by the time I’m offered a gold watch.
Though raised Catholic, I don’t believe in any organized religion. Pray for whomever you wish and may your god bless you for it. There is nothing the government can do to persecute me from a religious perspective.
I have no children (that I know of). And while I attended public schools, with no kids I have little riding on their future other than as a place of employment for a few of my friends.
None of my blood relatives have been — or are — in the military. Our wars are being fought by others, and in my case, always have been. I do have relatives by marriage who serve, but none are in harm’s way.
I don’t own a gun. I don’t care to. I don’t hunt. And while I don’t believe in the concept of good and evil, I do believe in desperation and understand the things desperate people will do. Still, I’m not afraid of getting shot.
I don’t do drugs, never have. Nor do I care if others partake as long as they don’t drive while doing it. While the “War on Drugs” has been an obscene waste of money, its outcome won’t impact me one way or the other.
I am a member of neither the 1 percent nor the 47 percent. I’m doing pretty well. I did it mostly on my own. I’ve worked hard, but I’ve also been lucky. Throughout the last five years, while others have suffered financially, I’ve done OK.
Most people I know who support Romney also are doing OK, even better than OK. They support him for reasons that involve greed, fear and their religious beliefs. Most are well-to-do white men, though a few are living on the fringes — what drives their loyalty I do not know.
On the surface, I should be a Romney supporter, too. I have more to gain financially by his success, and little to lose. So why then do I support President Obama? I guess because I think he cares more about, well, everyone. And so do I.
My world extends beyond my property line and my tax returns. I know unless we treat everyone as equals, unless we firmly build a wall to separate church and state, unless we take care of those who can’t take care of themselves, we’re headed down a dark path that will turn back the clock on basic human rights in this country to the 1950s.
I guess I’ve got something to lose after all.
Over The Edge is a weekly column by Reader senior contributing writer Tim McMahan focused on culture, society, the media and the arts. Email Tim at firstname.lastname@example.org.