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Free bus tickets to Canada

Gary Caruso | Friday, November 9, 2012

For Mitt Romney supporters, President Barack Obama’s reelection is not unlike 1972, when my fellow Notre Dame seniors and I swore we would flee to Canada if the great “Silent Majority” of pro-Vietnam War devout Christians and hardhat construction workers voted together to reelect Richard Nixon. We were absolutely certain our nation could never survive another four years of Nixon’s policies. We were sure thousands more of our generation would die in an unjust war. We were utterly convinced of Nixon’s inherent evil when he characterized us with an anti-youth, anti-drug, anti-war and anti-choice slogan: “Acid, amnesty and abortion.”
Today – four decades after my generation’s post-election “flee to Canada” impulse – many have the same urge to escape northward, while some have actually gone beyond rational thinking. Last Sunday, two days before the election, a Virginia man worried his defense contract might end if Obama were reelected. After attending church, he murdered his wife and two teenage boys before killing himself. On Tuesday evening, former SNL comedian Victoria Jackson proclaimed through Twitter she could not stop crying. She concluded, “The Democrat party voted God out of their platform and adopted Romans 1 … In the Good vs. Evil battle, today, Evil won. Thanks a lot Christians for not showing up. You disgust me.”
Mentally fragile meltdowns ignited this week in response to the anti-Obama forces’ nasty campaign bravado. Operating since the 2010 Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court equated unlimited money expenditures with free speech, a number of sources attempted to paint a picture of Obama as a “lazy, un-American, Santa Claus socialist, America-hating, welfare supporting, war on coal, food stamp Muslim” president. Remarkably, outside groups spent a billion dollars, mostly from a handful of aging Caucasian men, to fuel that narrative. Former George W. Bush political mogul Karl Rove led advertising spending with $100 million through his Super PAC Crossroads GPS. Sands Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson spent between $70 and $100 million while the oil tycoon Koch brothers personally contributed $60 million and leveraged another $100 million to defeat President Obama and elect Republican U.S. Senate candidates. To their surprise, they collectively failed to achieve either goal.
These plutocrats hoped to lessen governmental regulations and pay lower taxes under Romney. Perhaps if they simply paid their modest tax increases under Obama, they would have more money in the bank today compared to their larger out-of-pocket expenditures directed against the president. Individually, their motives vary between power and political survival. Rove views himself as a GOP kingmaker. The Koch brothers desire a more friendly regulatory environment to further their oil and business profits. Adelson, on the other hand, wants a stronger commitment to Israel as well as an end to government probes into his business empire.
Unless we could individually dwell within their social and uber-financial circles – the so-called “Wealthiest One Percent” Romney personally and perfectly epitomized over the course of his campaign – we have no way of fathoming their lifestyle’s daily bubble. However, we can judge them through their public deeds and certainly gauge the size of their hearts through their charitable works. For example, mega-famous and ultra-wealthy entertainer Lady Gaga announced this week she will donate $1 million to the American Red Cross for the Hurricane Sandy relief effort. What checks have these angry, anti-Obama old white billionaires written to ease the devastation overwhelming their pal, New Jersey GOP governor Chris Christie? That answer, in light of the millions they quickly and freely contributed to defeat Obama, exposes how true their hearts beat.
For his part, Romney could have better connected with the diverse suffering population facing homelessness and desperation due to Hurricane Sandy. Rather than staging an Ohio collection drive using $5,000 of staff-bought Wal-Mart goods to supply attendees with no handout, Romney should have stayed within himself and bundled several large checks from his billionaire backers. He could still have staged his photo opt and amassed peanut butter jars from supporters as they filed into his rally venue. But, he should have also collected five $100,000 checks from his billionaire backers, and then personally matched them to total a $1 million donation. A good campaign staff would have turned his awkward, cheesy peanut butter collection drive into a heartfelt peanut butter and cheese soufflé extravaganza.
On election evening, while buying gasoline during my return from driving my 97-year-old Aunt Sophie to vote in Pennsylvania, my purchase totaled $17.76 as the radio played “Don’t you worry about a thing.” I took those as good omens for Election Day, which every American should also expect going forward. Our nation continues to survive like it has after every election. If anyone deserves a bus trip to Canada, it is those moneymen who just tried to buy our presidency. While not their preferred mode of transportation, a bus is all they deserve. For anyone who also wants to join them, I’m offering free bus tickets to Canada.
Gary Caruso, a 1973 graduate of Notre Dame, serves in the Department of Homeland Security and was a legislative and public affairs director at the U.S. House of Representatives and in President Clinton’s administration. His column appears every other Friday. Contact him at:
GaryJCaruso@alumni.nd.edu
    The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.