I would like to welcome my readers back to another season, another quarter of (slightly more expensive) education, another 11-week formality in our life-long intellectual chrysalis and indeed to another year entirely. For those of you who could not seem to muster as good enough riddance for 2011 as it likely deserved, I am wholly with you.
But even as we tally up our collective qualms at this wild frontier of 2012 — fretting first our adjustment to writing dates properly and culminating, of course, in that inevitable Mayan apocalypse — I want you to know I am entering this year in high spirits.
A sweet-tasting lasagna? Why is this new recipe so optimistic?
By the time of you’re digesting this column, the Iowa pageants will have awarded their crowns and scepters to Mitt Romney, thereby loosening the first pebbles of the slow-motion landslide of disappointment which can neither subside nor avert its course before November. (And though Rick Santorum came in at a very close second, we all know the chances of the sweater-vested everyman — with his cruelly Google-unfriendly last name — ever relocating to the White House are slim indeed.)
It is a bittersweet boon to left-minded Americans that the ordeal now in front of Romney, the sanest of all the Republican candidates, must ravenously consume such countless hours of attention and millions of corporate dollars before deciding ultimately that the one-term Massachusetts governor was simply not insane enough to attract a plurality of Republicans to the voting booths.
The grim outlook for the Republicans’ 2012 platform is consequently the yang to 2011’s yin. Spurned into the spitting overdrive reminiscent of toppled bigots throughout political history after the inauguration of the new House majority under Speaker John Boehner, prominent Republican tongues went on to so sour our national dialogue with the rhetoric of panphobic, reactionary fear-mongering that their field of lukewarm candidates failed to find oxygen at such extreme altitudes. Already, Obama polls are at an 11-point lead ahead of Romney despite trailing him throughout the tail end of 2011.
Romney’s inevitable rise and fall may prove useful as a wake-up call to many of the nation’s 55 million registered Republicans who have been perhaps unfairly captivated in the theaters of faith and values, which have only recently been subjected to such vitriol as Newt Gingrich’s feelings that “gay and secular fascism” has torn asunder the moral fabric of America. (Gingrich’s three divorces apparently pose no threat.)
Others may now question the accuracy of Michele Bachmann’s belief in a causal relationship between immorality and deadly earthquakes. And is it so naïve to hope the religious right might someday renounce Rick Perry’s asinine “Strong” ad for the celebration of ignorance, intolerance and weakness that it is?
There is something profoundly soothing in the failure of such extremism; it goes beyond our ordinary sigh of satisfaction when we observe another’s welcome humiliation. Rather, the humbling of an entire runaway ideology — this relentless compulsion to undermine Obama at all Americans’ expense — evaporates from the forefront of our political consciousness like the morning fog over Highway 1. Regrettably, I feel it will take the remaining duration of 2012 for the lunacy to burn through the rest of its fuel.
In the meantime, I suppose we would do well to avoid ensnaring ourselves in as vehement idealism as we’ve seen from the conservative leadership. Trust me: There could hardly be a taller order for this lofty lasagna. Nonetheless, it is becoming clearer and clearer that we need not overly concern ourselves with hastening the demise of the Republican primitivism machine. Romney will do that for us eventually.
Instead, we ought to rivet ourselves to the realities of the problems we yet face as a country, and how sound and simple liberal principles such as social responsibility and equal opportunity can best be put to work to answer them in the new year. At the same time, let us all resolve ourselves to cooler tempers and a more civil political discourse.