In the last few days I’ve read a number of blog posts and letters to the editor in which the writers expressed discomfort (a kind way of putting it) with the post-election enthusiasm of Obama supporters. My attention was drawn especially to those who clearly harbored a lot of resentment toward those celebrants who communicated a sense of the victory as a decisive one. The writers frequently called the supporters “arrogant” or “presumptuous” or similar. While I’m sure there have been some annoyingly boisterous winners, the losers were talking like this was a first time phenomenon unique to Obama supporters.
Hello?!? Does history really fade so fast or circulate so little that these writers completely forget how recent republican victories have been celebrated? Reagan’s victories were touted as the end of an era, the obliteration of the 60s and the New Deal and his policies as self-evident. The excess and dismissive arrogance of the campus young republicans after Bush’s 1988 election shocked me at the time. But more recently, in two elections that W barely (if actually) won, both he and his supporters paraded around talking about mandates and having political capital to burn.
And now, if I can, for one moment, engage in a little post election rhetorical excess of my own: of course it’s not really a matter of history being forgotten or erased. It’s just that the information in history’s database can be hard to access from inside its dustbin.