Now What?

Nothing is unfucked. It's the same good guy versus the same bad guys, with the same set of massive social and economic problems, and no evident way out. So congratulations, America, you won four years of vicious trench warfare.

I'm as thrilled as anyone that Obama won re-election tonight. I supported his candidacy in 2008, and I supported it tonight. But four years on he accomplished almost none of the fundamental progress that I, at least, hoped he would bring to bear on our politics. One of the reasons Obama won in 2008 was the lingering shame and rage over Katrina, which laid bare the brutal facts of urban poverty in America: Poor people die in storms.

So. One of the reasons he won tonight was the approval of his performance in the wake of Sandy, which—mercifully with a vastly lower death toll—taught a similar lesson: Poor people get fucked in storms. It would have been nice if Sandy could have been a different story.

Not that he should have solved urban poverty in four years. But distracted by a shitty economy and an intransigent opposition, he hasn't even had a chance to get close to the bedrock. One of his law school friends told Frontline a few weeks ago that he always knew Obama would enter politics because he wanted to help poor people. Aside from helping poor people get healthcare—an important achievement—he has done nothing to alleviate chronic urban or rural poverty.

He's basically done nothing at all for the past two years except for assassinate a bunch of dudes (and children!). That's not his fault, but it's the truth, and it's at odds with the hopes we had for him—an ability to see past red and blue and bring political opponents together. Didn't happen. And it won't happen.

It's always nice, and kind of weird, when the mass culture chooses seriousness over ignorance and perseverance over easy rhetoric. So good for America. It was thrilling and revelatory four years ago. Tonight it just feels kind of neat. And tomorrow it will feel just as awful as the past four years have felt. So enjoy it while it lasts.