In the words of Tom Englehardt, "it's an election year for the record books — or maybe Ripley's Believe It or Not."
With the election now over, here's a recap of some of the best reporting and analysis from the Nation Institute family. We've been covering the new, the unbelievable, and the inspirational, from voter suppression to campaign spending to Romney benefitting from the auto bailout and everything in between.
Prior to November 6, the Nation and Colorlines.com joined forces to create Voting Rights Watch, a joint project that tracked voter suppression, with extensive reporting by Institute Fellow Ari Berman, Investigative Fund reporter Aura Bogado, and Brentin Mock. Ex-Republican Jeremiah Goulka chronicles his slow realization that voter ID laws are strategies to disenfranchise low income people of color who would likely vote Democrat. And The Nation Institute's Investigative Fund intern, Eric Wuestewald, blogged about the rise of voter identification laws and the essentially mythical problem of voter fraud.
Even with Ohio going decisively to President Obama, Berman's reportage on how eleventh-hour GOP voter suppression could swing that state is still a must-read:
According to Ohio law, provisional ballots won't be counted until ten days after the election. So, if the presidential election comes down to Ohio and the margin is razor-thin, as many are predicting, we won't know the outcome until well after Election Day. And only then will we find out how many eligible voters were wrongly disenfranchised by the secretary of state.
The voting results in Ohio were influenced by a key story, one that was supported by The Nation Institute's Investigative Fund and published in the mid-October issue of the Nation. Reporter Greg Palast uncovered that Governor Romney personally benefitted to the tune of millions of dollars from the auto bailout — a bailout that he opposed in an Op-Ed in the New York Times.
And on additional coverage of the Republican ticket, Nation Institute Fellow Wayne Barrett has been reporting the entire election season on Mitt Romney for the Daily Beast and the Nation, while Shaffer Fellow Jonathan Schell considered at length the choice of Paul Ryan as Romney's running mate in terms of the wider shape and movement of the GOP.
The record of the last decade or so suggests that the GOP these days is animated by two main goals. First, it seeks unchallengeable, absolute power. Its modus operandi for achieving that goal has been to use institutional power — of corporations, the courts and legislatures — to acquire even more institutional power. A recent case in point is the drive in Republican-dominated states around the country to disenfranchise Democratic-leaning constituencies, such as the poor and minorities, by legislating onerous requirements for voting.
Nation Books author John Nichols blogged at the Nation.com that "in a campaign where the standard for what constitutes the "big lie" keeps getting adjusted upward, Ryan is trumping even Mitt Romney by attacking President Obama and Vice President Biden for backing policies that Ryan backed."
Investigative Fund Fellow Lee Fang has also been on the campaign trail. His recent resporting has exposed the faux grassroots campaigning bankrolled by the conservative billionaire Koch brothers, the profits that Tagg Romney's firm Solamere Capital are set to make if his father wins the election, Paul Ryan's hypocritical request for Obamacare cash, and the way big business is buying the election using not Super PACs but trade associations.
Editor-at-Large at The Investigative Fund Joe Conason reported on the Boca Raton host of the now infamous 47 percent dinner, Marc Leder of Sun Capital, who is under investigation by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
So there on the videotape shot in Leder's huge Boca mansion stood Romney, complaining about the income taxes that the working poor don't pay and their dependence on government assistance, while the host surely nodded in agreement. At $50,000 a plate, the lobster was garnished with a nice helping of irony.
Institute Fellow Tom Englehardt has been considering the unprecedented amounts of money being poured into the coffers of both candidates and the hyperbolic way we talk about it. He spoke with Bill Moyers about how this election differs from past ones and wrote at TomDispatch of the "supersizing of American politics" and the downsizing of democracy and the American people.
Nation Books author and Nation magazine editor Katrina vanden Heuvel, Richard Kim, and Bryce Covert participated in a live chat on the Nation.com last night, while Nation Books author and Institute Fellow Jeremy Scahill was interviewed on Democracy Now! about what Obama's victory means for the ongoing drone war in Yemen.
Meanwhile, this morning, Institute Fellow and Nation Books author Gary Younge has a story in the Guardian about Obama's second term. Though it was more low-key, he writes, in some ways it was more impressive — many have forgotten the pain of the nation in 2008 and the ways he has improved their lives, and the president has shown during his first term that he is not the prophet some believed him to be. And the path ahead is rocky, made even more so by a Republican Party that seems hell-bent on obstructionism.
This is no time to rest on our laurels, for, as Younge writes:
The past four years could have been better. All too often [Obama] approached the financial industry, the health insurance industry, the stimulus battle and his Republican opponents in Congress like he did Romney in the first debate. Rather than take the fight to them he receded and allowed them to define him and his agenda. The result has been a "recovery" in which the banks are healthy and the nation still sick, most of the jobs that have been created are low-paid and the biggest winners of his healthcare reform are in the insurance companies.
Younge quotes Susan Aylward in Akron, Ohio, who voted for Obama. "If you're going to be president then I guess you obviously want to be in the history books. So what does he want to be in the history books for? I don't quite know the answer to that yet." Obama's second term might provide the answer.