Well, it’s over. Honestly, now that Election Day has come and passed, I feel a little empty. So much of my energy has gone toward this election, now I’m not exactly sure what to do with myself. I almost wish I had a sub job Wednesday, if only because it would be something to do other than sit and consider the various implications of this election.

I think what I’d really like to do is analyze why John McCain lost. The fact of the matter is, there’s no real reason why he should have. He followed the Karl Rove playbook perfectly. He slimed his opponent, told half-truths, didn’t really talk about policy when there was a possible character issue to develop, and ignored both criticism and responses to his own questions.

The question is, why would these techniques not work when they were so effective in 2000 and 2004 (not to mention other, non-presidential races)? Well, there are several reasons why, but I hope that the primary one is that somehow, in some fashion, the electorate has become tired of negative, distracting campaigning and is now actually interested in facts, those little things that John McCain had so much trouble with that the Republican party has been roundly dismissing for years now.

I mean, let’s take a moment to compare campaigns here. Barack Obama spent most of his time discussing policy, something the McCain campaign said early that this campaign wouldn’t be about. Instead, the Party tried to make it about associations, middle names, fake plumbers, more associations, even more associations, and attempts to play on the xenophobia carefully cultivated in this country since 9/11. The level to which this campaign sunk goes far beyond and at an exponentially faster rate than their poll numbers.

The irony, and this relates to this post on retrograde_spin, is that every slander or attempted smear leveled against Barack Obama applied to John McCain and Sarah Palin in a much more heinous fashion. They called him a rock star and an elitist. The RNC spent $150,000 on Sarah Palin’s clothing out of campaign donations. They said that he “pals around with domestic terrorists” because he served on a charity board started by a conservative Republican, the wife of whom John McCain listed as a supporter with Bill Ayers. Sen. McCain has gotten consistent support from domestic terrorist G. Gordon Liddy, also the person who planned the Watergate break in and who held a McCain fundraiser at his home. They said Obama was an anti-Semite because he was at a party with Rashid Khalidi. John McCain gave Khalidi nearly half a million dollars. At least this attack produced one of the funniest interviews of the election season.

It doesn’t stop there, though. I’ve heard the “Michelle Obama said she isn’t proud to be an American” meme quite a bit. Of course, if we’re holding family members accountable, then Cindy McCain seems to think that people with PTSD don’t “know what they’re doing” and Meghan McCain said that “No one knows what war is like other than my family. Period.” Way to support the troops, McCain family!

As the campaign got desperate, the attacks began to degenerate along with their message, which became a weekly revolving fashion show of slogans and smears using the US electorate as a test audience. This was when I feel the Republican party hit its lowest point as it fell entirely on the politics of division to fire up their base, which seems to be, in their eyes, the extremist, bigoted, religiously fanatic lunatic fringe that the elected representatives of this party, ironically, claim as a significant part of its core.

This is when we started seeing John McCain claiming that western Pennsylvania is somehow more patriotic than the rest of the country, Sarah Palin claiming that small towns are “real America,”vicious slanders against liberals, Joe McCain calling northern Virginia “communist country,” and, of course, Michelle Bachmann calling for the media to investigate Congress to see who is “pro-American” and “anti-American.” As a side note, I can assure Congresswoman Bachmann that nobody who chooses to serve out country in government is “anti-American,” though I realize that when she was spewing her McCarthyist rhetoric, what she meant was “disagrees with me.”

Things became worse as they grew bleak, and the Party started brandishing God like a weapon. And yet, even trying to present themselves as the chosen party of the Almighty didn’t work. Maybe there’s something to this “tempting God” idea. For the record, there is so much wrong with that last quote behind the link, I don’t think I have the energy to go into it.

The object of this late campaign strategy was to divide the country, create an “Us vs Them” scenario, reaching out to the insane and deranged members of their party with dire warnings of an Islamic terrorist president who won’t salute the flag and really hates the country. Barack Hussein Obama, fifth horseman of the Apocalypse, who will plunge our country into an era of Muslim oppression and liberal decadence (a neat trick, I would think). And to an extent, it worked.

The problem is, it also pushed away a lot of reasonable conservatives and Republicans who just want a responsible fiscal policy and less government. It became pretty clear that neither of these would be possible with a McCain presidency, even as the rats who were scrambling to board the SS George Bush as late as last June jumped ship in droves. Several of the staunchest Republicans realized that even if the representatives that failed us were exiting that sinking ship, they were still swimming in the same direction. I know several who voted third party and applaud them for it.

Despite an awful campaign filled with hatred, lies, gaffs, and the worst that politics has to offer, Senator McCain showed a little bit of the hero that he once showed all the time during his concession speech. Had he run his campaign with the amount of class that he showed there or when he corrected his supporter in Minnesota, I would have at least considered him. Unfortunately, those were bright spots in a predominately dark campaign.

John McCain is a good man, but these last few months have brought out the worst in him. He has been twisted by his party, which in turn has been twisted by extreme elements of its faith until it has become nothing but a great Machiavellian machine with theocracy and oligarchy as its ultimate goal. If you doubt that, look at the triumph of Amendment 2 and which party was primarily behind it, spinning the issue so that it somehow “protects our children,” though neither they nor I can say from what. Or which party wants Judeo-Christian beliefs taught in public schools? Or which one considers “We can’t yet explain it, so it must be a higher power” a competing scientific theory? Maybe I’m being paranoid, but the evidence really does seem to be in my favor on this.

There has been a lot of crying from the Right as well because of the election. Believe me, I know how you feel. I felt the exact same way in 2004. I thought that President Bush would take away more of our civil liberties, extend the war in Iraq, and tank our economy. Then again, I had four years on which to base these predictions. Ignoring the fruitcakes with the same vehemence that I ignore the morons who, in ’04, said President Bush would make himself into an all-powerful emperor for life, you’re probably not entirely wrong about Obama, but it’s won’t be as bad as you think. Tangent: I hate that my favorite book’s title has been bastardized into the name of a site for right wingnuts to develop conspiracy theories about liberals. Hate to break it to you, if we had a vast conspiracy to take the country out of the hands of the fanatic extreme Right, we’d have put that plan into effect a long time ago.

The thing is, I’m not ready to forgive the GOP for the way they ran this campaign. It was despicable. There are some who would argue that the majority of Republicans are reasonable, moderate conservatives, and my experience with many of them leads me to believe this as well. If that’s the case, then please, I implore you, offer us something other than corrupt old men(how is this contest even in question?), religious fanatics, and whackjobs. If you’re the majority and disagree with these people, then why do you keep sending them into office? If they don’t represent your views then why, for the love of God, do you continue to have them represent you? How the hell did Michelle Bachmann get re-elected again? It’s like crowning the court jester.

So, please, I’m begging you, if reasonable people are the majority of Republicans, next time around send somebody sane to represent you. Like the people at http://firedoglake.com/ who have a program where they actively search for progressives and try to talk them into running for higher office. Do the same with moderates, or even paleoconservatives. I’ll happily debate the merits of the free market, the role of government, or the best approach to national defense with you. But we cannot have a meaningful debate until you stop sending people to Washington who don’t even believe in their own plans, and for whom abortion, gay marriage,and school prayer are given higher priority than the economy and foreign relations.

That’s about it, really. I’ve gotten very vitriolic through all of this, but I think it’s time that I start to cool down a little bit. We’ve all been asked to work together for at least the next four years. As much as us liberals think we can fix it all ourselves, we can’t. The election’s over, can we now try to listen to the message of unity that has cut through the calls for division? I am still angry, but I’ll put that aside for the sake of this country that I love. I don’t expect the Right to be silent. In fact, I hope that you’ll call us on our mistakes with the same vehemence that we called you on yours. But please, we can’t fight one another over every little thing if we plan to set things right.

“This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.” – President-elect Barack Obama, November 4, 2008.