Bob Franken

King Features Column

(Obviously this is the post election column from last week, a delay from newspaper release necessitated by the syndication deal. The most current one appears in your paper or it can if you bug the editors)

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Look, it was a boffo victory speech. President Barack Obama pushed all the right buttons after winning this foul fight. “While each of us will pursue our own individual dreams, we are an American family, and we rise or fall together as one nation and as one people.” Wonderful stuff — except, we are a shattered family.
It’s great to aspire, as we do in the Pledge of Allegiance, to be “One nation … indivisible.” Sadly, this election has made that notion really suspect. We are very divisible, and after a relentlessly hateful campaign, we are one nation divided into two separate camps.
More than $6 billion was spent, and we are left just where we started. House Speaker John Boehner, probably fearing for his job, went to Twitter to uh, tweet defiantly, “With this vote, the American people also have made it clear there is no mandate for raising taxes.” Of course, without some sort of deal on taxes, the country will continue to hurtle toward financial disaster and right off the “fiscal cliff.”
Boehner’s House extremists care less about that than persisting in their guerrilla war against government. Meanwhile, Senate Democrats, who did pretty well thanks to the outlandish candidates the GOP put forward, will still continue to dither and get rolled by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his enablers. McConnell may have fallen short of his brazenly stated priority of making Obama “a one-term president,” but perhaps he will now promise to do everything in his power to make Obama a two-term president, making sure the second term is a living hell.
It’s great that Obama and Mitt Romney made their feel-good declarations of conciliation, but we need to take stock of what almost happened: The nation barely avoided a nonmilitary super-PAC coup by a small army of mega-wealthy who tried to use used money as a weapon to complete their corporate takeover of the country. The fact that this election was so close shows how easily manipulated millions upon millions of people can be.

It is true that the hordes of the intolerant were beaten back in their efforts to exploit homophobia, but they simply will regroup and again try to return us to the Dark Ages. Meanwhile, the real test will be the long slog out of economic misery. It will take a true conversion from those whose only creed has been greed. They must devote heart and soul to our recovery and erase doubts about whether they actually have hearts and souls.
This is not directed at all of our most prosperous citizens. Many are thoughtful people dedicated to the welfare of their fellow human beings, ready to share their wisdom. It is aimed at those among us, epitomized by Mitt Romney, who represent our worst instincts. They believe that the pursuit of money is the be-all-end-all, that other concerns are secondary. Profit is their ideal, and the thousands of workers who lose their livelihoods as a result of their schemes are merely collateral damage.
They need to reorder their priorities and help us reorder ours. Elected officials need to reject their legalized bribery and create laws to punish the blatant thievery that, if perpetrated outside the world of finance, would get the perps sent to prison.
Those of us in the media need to do our jobs. We are too easily led around by the nihilistic political operatives who hypnotize us with their relentless deception. We need to snap out of the hypnotic trance. President Obama got it backward when he belittled pundits who are “the cynics that tell us that politics is nothing more than a contest of egos or the domain of special interests.”
Count me proudly among them, harboring harsh thoughts about living in hard times. Some fundamental change is needed before the United States “family” can even think of being reunited.

© 2012 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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