Duck! and Gather

I’m Happy, But Nervous

Posted on: November 5, 2008

Hey, don’t get me wrong. I’m happy and all about last night. But, unlike my wife, who believed such a day would never come in America and thus was overcome by the proceedings, I was stirred only a little. As you may know, I predicted last night’s results two years ago.

So I was fully expecting what happened. And since happiness is (IMHO) simply the gap between what we expect and what we believe we already have, I’m feeling pleased this morning, but not surprised, and perhaps even a little bit nervous. On that last sentiment, consider the following ….

Compare these next four images:

1789 Election

1932 Election
2008 Election

2008 Election

As you can probably tell, these are the electoral maps from the U.S. presidential elections of 1789, 1860, 1932, and 2008. Notice any interesting patterns amongst these four images?

Backing up, why are these four elections interesting? The last three are interesting because they were the elections held at the beginning of a crisis that threatened survival of the nation. (Bear with me on 2008 for now). 1789 fits into this list too because even though the American Revolution was over by 1789, the nation was terribly fragile at the time of its first elections.

Assuming America today is on the brink of an existential crisis, what do these maps tell us? Here’s what worries me: Each of the first three maps is associated with wars (America-Britain, Civil War, World War II). Seems like every time America goes through such crises, we fight a war to get out of it.

What worries me is that the 1789 and 1932 maps reveal true landslides. I mean, Washington won 100% of the electoral college, and Roosevelt came close. But look at Lincoln’s map. What a mess!

And Lincoln presided over a civil war.

So what is Obama’s map telling us? It’s not nearly as messy as Lincoln’s. But also not nearly as clean as those of Washington and Roosevelt. We’re somewhere in the middle.

Argh. Ambiguity. Hence my nervousness.

What do you think?

9 Responses to "I’m Happy, But Nervous"

I see your point.

But these are different times. 150 years ago a good majority of the people believed that blacks were inferior. Even those who would abolish slavery would likely not agree to give blacks the right to vote in those days.

Today, opportunity and privilege for blacks are a birthright just like evey American citizen. So the climate for tolerance is way, way escalted.

As well, I doubt that Lincoln’s opponent would have made a conciliatory speech saying basically: hey guys, we’ve got some troubled times ahead, let’s work together with the Obama team and the rest of the country to make this country great, even if you didn’t vote for him.

I can’t see Lincoln’s opponent doing that.

So I don’t only have hope for America because America sees the need for healthy change, I also see hope for America because McCain was eloquent in his desire to see change too. If you can’t beat ’em, then join ’em. And his sentiments, while met with a few boos from the crowd, I think was on the most part, widely acknowledged and accepted, as evident from the cheers of the crowd.

So I’m not nervous in a war uprising. No. Sure there will be the skin–heads and the Klu Klux Clanners, and maybe other fringe pyscho groups who will take their pot shots at Obama. But I really believe that the majority of Americans want unity. Democrat and Republican alike.

This is what I think you’ll see in America: Slow withdrawal from Iraq. Not completely, because even with all the shit that’s gone on, I’m sure some good has been done over there. Withdrawal from Afghanistan (? is the US still there). Then this money will be channeled into social stuff. Better healthcare, etc. I don’t think we will ever see a socialized system of medicine in the U.S. But I do think it will be better than what it is now.

And I think the war that will be fouth will be an economic one. Not a war with guns. Oh sure, there will be some hot head that does something stupid, but not war with ammunition. It’ll be something to do with money.

What happens when you have a spoiled teenager who has been milking their parents and living high off the hog? (i.e. America) Well, either the family goes bankrupt and Ms. teenager starves, or Mr. Rich Uncle bails the family out big time. Well Mr. Rich unlce won’t do this forever because he’ll go bankrupt too and the whole lot will be starving. So the parents of Ms. teenager need to get their shit together and say “no” to the brat. Then the brat will need to do one of two things. Either steal, lie, cheat, fraud, embezzle, etc. and spiral downward, likely into drug addiction and then be found dead in an alley one day, or with her brains blown out by her own hand, – OR, she finally gets it. Learns how to live MODERATELY. Learns how to give back to her community. Learns that materialism is good, but on the lower part of the totem pole in terms of life priorities.

So, I think, there will be a lot of crime. A lot of white collar crime.

That’s what I think.

Very interesting take Kathy. I agree re McCain’s concession speech. My wife would hardly believe what she was hearing. Dignity. Grace. That was powerful.

I also agree about the re-channeling of war money into social services over the next few years.

I liked your teenager story, but in the story the teenager is an Enneagram 7. America, on the other hand, is an 8. And an 8 under great stress behaves very differently from a 7. The short differences that the 7 looks for “escape” (drug addiction, stealing, suicide), whereas the 8 looks to beat up “others”. The latter is in the DNA of this country — good times, and especially bad times.

But the “who will be beating up who?” question stumps me. More on that in the next comment.

After some thought, I’m suspecting the reason why Obama didn’t win a landslide on the scale of Washington or Roosevelt is that few Americans actually believe the country is headed for collapse. >80% thinks that things will be getting worse. But few among that >80% believe that the American empire could collapse in the next 10 years or that America herself could become history.

In contrast, in 1789, people were just starting to get used to a brand new nation cut off from Mother England.

And by the summer of 1932, months before the November election, the Dow had already sunk to a mere 10% of its peak value (of late 1929), and unemployment was already over 20%. In other words, by the 1932 election, the shit had already hit the fan and everybody knew it.

Today, most people I talk to about the Dow think that it has “already hit bottom” (i.e. the low 8000s last week). When I say “history says the Dow will fall to 1,400 before the worst is over”, people laugh. Think that idea is crazy.

So given all that, Obama’s >350 electoral votes is not too shabby.

I am very hopeful for America.

Okay the Enneagram perspective.

America will go into the healthy “2” state largely, with greater unity.

But in that process of becoming more Mother Theresa-like, I believe there will be even more violent crimes in the interm from a small group of loonie-bins. There will be mini-terrorism within the country itself. Not one group fighting another. Not a clear definition of black vs. white, rich vs. poor, etc. Just internal conflict. The war on terrorism will shift from “Osama and the bad guys” – disease apart from the body, to the cancer within. Then self-responsibility will take on new meaning. (That’s when Bill and I launch “You’re The Cure” game – gotta ride that capalist/opporunistic wave 🙂

So at the end of it all, yeah, I can see why you would want to move to Greece temporarily.

We’ve got lots of room up here in Smithers!! Your kid can become a snowboarding dudette.

Thanks for the invite! Yeah, that’s an interesting scenario you paint. Could see something like that happening.

But back on the Enneagram, an 8 shifts to 2 only when feeling secure. America — as a nation — won’t be feeling secure for a couple of decades. And today, there is significant insecurity. e.g. Wonderful, historical night last night, and today, the Dow is down 5%. People say the election results were already “priced” into the Dow numbers. In other words, the nation is collapsing, and America will be getting only more insecure (for an 8 that means a shift to 5, or more impulsive violence as an 8).

Okay, let’s go with that. A shift to a “5”. What would that look like? No heart. No feeling. Very intellectual, analytical, rationalizations galore, robotic. Get the job done, pay attention to details.

That doesn’t look so bad if the country took that approach. Maybe America would get out of it’s self-dug financial hole in this way.

The country might look like China, without the intolerance of ideas/religion/culture (e.g. Falun Gongers).

I’m really optimistic for America. I think it’s going to be a win-win situation with a few hard bumps along the way.

Your optimism is refreshing!

Well I was optimistic for America, but I remember America is also filled with these kind of people:

I’m hoping his security is impenetrable.

Yeah, I read about that one too. Sad to say I wasn’t surprised to read the story.

I even wasn’t surprised to read that the guy was coming from the Left, not the Right. That is, his main beef with Obama is Obama’s potential leaning toward reactionary Judaism (i.e. AIPAC) as reflected in his appointments. This is a complaint of the Left (e.g. people who want to see Obama speak up for the Palestinians, not just the Israelis).

This dynamic above totally parallels Roosevelt. The first violent reaction to Roosevelt came not from the Right, but rather from the Left who felt that Roosevelt wasn’t nearly Left enough.

History is repeating itself in more ways than one.

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for the money has gone too far

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