This Is the Hellscape America Would Have Become If Obama Was Re-Elected in 2012

Remember 2012? It was an election year that pitted former Republican governor Mitt Romney against the incumbent, President Barack Obama. But Rick Santorum threw his hat in the ring early on with a disturbing ad about what the world would look like if Obama was re-elected. Good thing that didn’t happen, right?

Yes, the futuristic world of 2014, as imagined by Rick Santorum, is a terrifying one. This dystopian hellscape is filled with long lines to see a doctor, rising gas prices, and religious liberty under attack. The short video has basically every criticism you could imagine that was lobbed at Obama, from issues with the Affordable Care Act to Obama’s alleged hostility to Christians, despite being a Christian himself. There were also some not-so-subtle jabs at Obama as “America’s sworn enemy.”

The Santorum campaign has since deleted the video, but I saved it on a hard drive back in 2012 and recently uploaded it to YouTube. The video is from just five years ago, but it honestly feels like an eternity. And I think it’s safe to say that the video is now officially part of the those futures that were imagined in the past.

The voiceover is pretty ominous, warning about what kind of world we’ll see by 2014 if President Obama is allowed to continue in office. The short version? An unbearable one.


“Imagine a small American town, two years from now, if Obama is re-elected,” the voiceover says. “Small businesses are struggling, and families are worried about their jobs and their future.”

To put all this in context, critics of Obamacare said that small businesses would be crushed by the restrictions in the health care law. And while many small businesses still dislike the Affordable Care Act, most Americans like the provisions in the law that don’t allow insurance companies to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions and most love that kids can stay on their parents coverage until 26 years old.

“The wait to see a doctor is ever increasing, gas prices through the roof, and their freedom of religion under attack,” the voiceover continues. “And every day, the residents of this town must come to grips with the harsh reality that a rogue nation, and sworn American enemy, has become a nuclear threat.”

That nuclear threat that the video is talking about? No, it’s not North Korea, a country that just sent Japan into a 15-minute panic when it launched a missile over the country on Monday. This ad is referring to Iran, a country that, as of today, has kept up its obligations after negotiating with the Obama administration. President Trump calls it the worst deal in history, but it’s working so well that he doesn’t dare get rid of it.


The ad has a lot of quick flashes of disturbing stock photos (which I examined at the time) but the most startling moment is when the ad shows an image of former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Take a look at the moment in slowed-down GIF form.

GIF of a clip from the 2012 Rick Santorum ad called “Obamaville” showing President Barack Obama on a screen with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Do you see that quick flash of President Obama’s face? That’s the moment in the ad when the words “sworn American enemy” are said.

At the time, Santorum spokesperson Hogan Gidley said it was “absurd” to think that the Santorum campaign was comparing President Obama to Ahmadinejad. But it’s pretty clear it was.


“Welcome to a place where one president’s failed policies really hit home. Welcome to Obamaville—more than a town, a cautionary tale, coming soon to,” the ad concludes.

Santorum originally posted the video to YouTube on March 23, 2012 but he suspended his campaign less than a month later on April 10, 2012. There were supposed to be more installments, but those were never produced on account of Santorum dropping out of the race.


What were the real big stories of 2014? The Ebola outbreak, the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight 370, and the normalization of relations between the US and Cuba. Gas prices? Stable and more affordable than ever when you adjust for inflation. Religious freedoms? Nobody was throwing Christians in jail, at least in the United States.

And what about small business and health care? Well, the US Treasury Department found that more people were taking advantage of the opportunities Obamacare afforded to start their own small businesses.

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The year 2014 was far from perfect, but when you compare it to the disasters that America faces in 2017 under the leadership of President Trump, it’s almost enough to make you nostalgic for a time when the biggest controversy in Washington was President Obama wearing a tan suit. Seriously. That outrage machine was exactly three years ago today. But it may as well have been another lifetime ago.


Matt Novak is the editor of Gizmodo's Paleofuture blog

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