WATCH: 2012 Election Time Capsule

MoJo reporters weigh in on the highlights—and lowlights—of the election season.

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Already nostalgic for the campaign that was? Or just looking for a way to pass the time while you white-knuckle your way to the results? Help is here: We’ve put together video roundups of the high and low points of the campaign on 10 major issues, introduced by Mother Jones reporters who have covered the issues extensively. There’s certainly much more to this election than what lies within these lists. But it may serve as a good time capsule and maybe even help a handful of undecided voters finally…decide.

NOTE: You can use the “Next” button (to the left of the volume button) to advance videos, and the “Playlist” button (to the right of the time code) to see all the videos in each playlist.

Climate Change

President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney refused to say the “C-Word” in the debates, but after Hurricane Sandy, it was on everyone’s minds—including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s. Last week he endorsed Obama on the basis that the president has better policies to stop climate change. Kate Sheppard discusses: 

1) Romney at the GOP convention.
2) Obama at the Democratic convention.
3) Bill McKibben of, supporting Michigan’s Proposal 3, which would require electric utilities to derive at least 25 percent of their electricity from renewables by 2025.
4) Climate Desk’s coverage of damage caused by Hurricane Sandy to Staten Island, New York.
5) Climate Desk’s coverage of 2012’s historic drought.

Congressional Races

From Montana’s “weird and wild” Senate race between Sen. Jon Tester and Rep. Denny Rehberg to campaign ads that prominently feature guns—at least this year’s congressional races haven’t been boring. Tim Murphy breaks down some of 2012’s most colorful races: 

1) Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.).
2) Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
3) Rep. Howard L. Berman (D-Calif.) and Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), who are battling for a redrawn district, have to be physically separated during a forum.
4) Republican congressional candidate Roger Williams of Texas.
5) Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.).

Dark Money

Andy Kroll calls 2012 “The Dark-Money Elections”—elections that has featured an unprecedented amount of anonymous, untraceable cash. He explains:

1) A trailer for Hillary: The Movie, the documentary that launched the Citizens United Supreme Court case and gave rise to super-PACs.
2) A Citizens United explainer by
3) asks people on the street if they’re familiar with super-PACs.
4) A silent ad paid for by the unPAC coalition.
5) Mother Jones co-editors Clara Jeffery and Monika Bauerlein discuss dark money with Bill Moyers.

The Economy

Both of the presidential candidates have promised to pull the US economy out of its slump. Can they do it? Washington Bureau Chief David Corn weighs in.

1. Comedian Stephen Colbert sums up state of the economy, determining that the Isle of Man has a better credit rating.
2. In response to Obama’s debate charge that his tax plan will mainly benefit the rich, Obama alleges that Romney’s tax plan will mainly benefit the rich. Romney says, “I’ve got five boys, I’m used to people saying something that’s not always true.” 
3. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) explains his “Path to Prosperity” deficit reduction plan. 
4. President Obama says Romney’s $5 trillion tax cut (which Romney claims won’t increase the deficit) is the wrong vision for America. 
5. Former president Bill Clinton on Obama’s handling of the economic crisis.

Foreign Policy

When it comes to counterterrorism and foreign policy issues, Obama and Romney often agree. Adam Serwer parses their positions:

1. Romney says he supports Obama’s controversial use of drone strikes.
2. Obama initially promised to close the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center, as seen in this montage, but reneged on his promise after he was elected. 
3. Romney says he would have signed the National Defense Authorization Act, which codified indefinite detention. Obama signed the law in 2011.
4. Obama and Romney outline their (rather similar) positions on Iran and Israel.
5. During the infamous “47 percent” fundraiser, Romney says the Palestinians have “no interest whatsoever in establishing peace.”  

Health Care

Perhaps no other issue is more hotly debated in this campaign than Obamacare, which requires Americans to have health insurance either through their employer or through an individual mandate (with certain exceptions). In contrast, Romney, whose reforms in Massachusetts were the model for Obamacare, has promised to repeal the law on day one of his presidency if elected. Stephanie Mencimer breaks it down: 

1. Romney’s response to the Supreme Court’s Affordable Care Act decision.
2. Obama’s response to the decision.
3. Obama and Romney debate Medicare, vouchers, and private health insurance.
4. Romney’s remarks on 60 Minutes.
5. “The Determinators,” an anti-Obamacare film by Tea Part Patriots. 

National Security

Romney wants to increase defense spending to 4 percent of GDP, an increase experts call “amazingly unprecedented.” Obama wants to lower the deficit by cutting defense, but faces looming “fiscal cliff” defense cuts, which are widely unpopular. Here’s Adam Serwer: 

1. Romney and Obama spar on the defense budget at the recent presidential debate. 
2. Romney claims “stretched to the breaking point” and promises to increase ship-building and buy more airplanes (he doesn’t mention that the ships he wants to buy are leaking and the planes are causing pilot’s to blackout). 
3. Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) makes the point that the Pentagon budget is bloated, and lobbyists are more interested in protecting defense contractors than economic growth.
4. Obama accuses the GOP of trying to wriggle out of across-the-board defense cuts (also known as sequestration).  
5. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says that sequestration will lead to a “hollow force” (a claim that the Congressional Research Service has debunked).

Reproductive Rights

Is the “War on Women” real? Why did all the 2012 election candidates suddenly start debating rape? Kate Sheppard weighs in: 

1. In August, Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) says that victims of “legitimate rape” can’t get pregnant because “the female body has ways to shut that whole thing down.” 
2. Richard Mourdock, who is running for US Senate in Indiana, says in October that pregnancy resulting in rape is “something God intended to happen.”  
3. Paul Ryan calls rape “method of conception.” 
4. Romney reiterates his pledge to strip federal funding from Planned Parenthood, which could gut clinics across the country.
5. President Obama has emphasized his support for women’s contraception and preemptive care throughout his campaign. 
6. Romney used to say that he would work to protect landmark Supreme Court case Roe vs. Wade…
7. …And now he’ll work to overturn it.  

State Propositions

Voters around the country will be deciding today on state ballot measures that would abolish the death penalty, legalize recreational marijuana, and ban gay marriage. Andy Kroll explains: 

1. Ad supporting Washington state’s Initiative 502, which would legalize marijuana use.
2. Ad supporting California’s Prop. 34 to repeal the death penalty.
3. Ad opposing Prop. 34.
4. Ad supporting Michigan’s Proposal 2 to constitutionally guarantee workers the right to collective bargaining.
5. Son of two fathers explains his opposition to Minnesota’s Amendment 1, which would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Voter Suppression and Poll Issues

Evidence of election tampering and voter suppression has caused observers to wonder whether this is the “dirtiest election yet“—and that was before Hurricane Sandy further complicated matters by wreaking havoc on polling stations. Adam Sewer has the details: 

1. Gov. Rick Scott defends his purging of the voter rolls in Florida, a move critics say is stopping lawful voters from their casting ballots.
2. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) calls Scott’s purge “ridiculous beyond words” and says the GOP is “afraid of the people, they’re afraid of their votes.”
3. Comedian Jon Stewart says voting in Egypt is more organized than Florida.
4. An exclusive Climate Desk video shows how Hurricane Sandy could disrupt voting in New Jersey.
5. Hurricane Sandy has also caused polling site confusion in Coney Island. 


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