[This is the first of two alternative "future histories" of the Presidential campaign of 2012 and its aftermath. The second will appear tomorrow.]
Washington Free Press On-Line, 6:30 pm, January 19, 2013
Neighborhoods throughout the District of Columbia are now reporting unexpected and unprecedented movements of US Army troops into the city, where they seem to be securing major traffic nerve centers that could seal off the ceremonial area for tomorrow's Presidential Inauguration from the residential areas of the city.
Troops seem also to be establishing posts on all bridges across the Potomac between Virginia and the District, and on Interstate 95 where it crosses the Beltway.
Repeated requests for comment to the White House and to the Army Chief of Staff were met with repeated refusals to comment .
Meanwhile, leaders of the Mobilization for Democracy that has been planning to bring two million "Counter-Inaugural" protesters from the South and from the Eastern seaboard as far north as Boston said they had no definite information on what the appearance of troops meant, but thought it might be intended to thwart their protests of the Inauguration of Sarah Palin tomorrow.
"We can't believe President Obama would be ordering this deployment for such a reason, but there are certainly some military commanders who might," said Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., co-chair of the Mobilization. "All our demonstrators have been trained in calm and committed nonviolent behavior since we began organizing after Election Day, and we expect them to adhere to that discipline. We will not turn back. We shall overcome."
Plans for the Counter-Inaugural demonstration and the newly reported troop movements climax what many observers have called the most divisive national election since William McKinley defeated William Jennings Bryan in 1896, or even since 1860, when Abraham Lincoln was elected on the brink of the Civil War.
There is general agreement that the election of Sarah Palin was brought about by three factors: the rise of the official unemployment rate to 15%, plus another 9% of workers who had given up seeking work and thereby gone off the official count; the rising weekly death toll of US troops in Afghanistan, as the Taliban established firm control of the Pashtun regions and encroached more and more deeply in Kabul and other major cities; and the Congressional stalemate and paralysis that emerged from the elections of 2010.
Through the Republican primaries of early 2012, Palin consistently won about 35% of the votes against a field of other candidates. Under the Republican Patty's winner-take-all rules for the primaries, she carried enough delegates to cement her nomination by late May, and turned to campaigning against the President.
Her speeches and the responses of her audiences were vitriolic, connecting accusations of Mr. Obama's "un-American" origins with denunciations of him for "sucking up to Wall Street while jobs were sucked out of the real America" and "playing games with Muslim terrorists while real American kids died." "Why doesn't he just nuke those America-haters out of the water – or the mountains?" she cried out at many rallies.
Nothing like the 2008 tidal wave of youthful volunteers emerged for the Obama campaign in 2012, as many of the '08 activists expressed sorrow, bafflement, or anger at his policies in office. While most asserted that they would vote for him as against Sarah Palin, few offered the devoted organizing effort of 2008.
In November, Obama's support among "Reagan Democrats" practically disappeared. While his support percentages among African-Americans and Hispanics remained high, the Hispanic turnout dropped considerably. (In the stalemated Congress of 2011, no immigration bill could be passed.) The only other constituencies where he carried a majority of voters were Jews, self-described gay people, Muslims, and a thin sliver of urban and suburban white women from 18 to 45 years old.