Nov 09, 2012 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
Right about 11:12 p.m. on Nov. 6, 2012, as the first call was made and the other networks would soon follow – one of them quite reluctantly, to their eternal shame and deserved mockery – the postmortems of our latest presidential election began to spill out.
Why did Barack Obama win a second term? Why did Mitt Romney lose? Why did Democrats maintain the Senate, Republicans maintain the House? And how in the world did people, especially in Ohio, maintain their collective sanity under the avalanche of attack ads?
Well, the last answer is that we’re a pretty resilient bunch and can handle just about any kind of punishment, only to be followed by the punishment of two months of holiday shopping ads.
As to the rest, well, the answer is both statistical and practical.
The cold, hard numbers and demographics of this country are turning against the GOP, and they have no one but themselves to blame.
America in 2012 is not the same America of previous generations. It’s more diverse, more accepting of gays and lesbians (as proven by same-sex marriage passing in Maine, Maryland and Washington), and the younger electorate has little time or tolerance for the prejudices of the past.
Despite this, Republicans went out of their way to demean and diminish the first minority president in our history, assailing his political beliefs, questioning where he was born and what God he worshipped, plus other dog whistles, while at the same time railing against any sort of immigration policy that didn’t throw millions out of the country.
The result was predictable. Aside from the 96 percent of African-Americans that went for Obama, Latinos went 72 percent for him, and other minorities followed the same pattern. Not only did they see a president just like him, they saw an opposition bent out of shape because of that very fact and using whatever tools necessary to suppress their vote – which, of course, backfired.
Almost from the moment Obama was elected four years ago, the GOP plotted his removal and treated him with a contempt that was nothing short of astonishing. But they also counted on a bottomed-out economy to stay that way long enough to regain all the levers of power.
Rooting for failure didn’t work. Steady job growth has returned, sparked by a controversial bailout of the automobile industry that worked out quite well. All the other economic indicators, from housing prices to consumer confidence, are heading in the right direction.
In the face of those facts, or despite them, Republicans nominated Romney, a candidate who wanted Detroit to go bankrupt, railed against the 47 percent behind closed doors and had polices that could generously be described as a moving target, including a total repudiation of the health-care plan he implemented in Massachusetts that was a model for Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
At the same time, having reclaimed the House in 2010, the Tea Party-fueled GOP true believers though it was a bright idea to have more of those types in Senate races, folks who saw terms like “compromise” and “middle ground” as blasphemy.
Enter Todd Akin, and Richard Mourdock, and other Senate and House candidates who gave us delightful views on rape that were out of place in the 19th century, much less the 21st. They lost.
In the post-Citizens United world of unlimited money flowing into campaigns, the billionaires, organized by Karl Rove, targeted Ohio’s Sherrod Brown with $40 million worth of ads, and got beat anyway. Then Wall Street got behind Scott Brown in Massachusetts, desperate to keep Elizabeth Warren out of Ted Kennedy’s old Senate seat. But Warren won, too, and she could be headed for bigger things.
Yet the biggest excuse that you’ve heard from the GOP and their Fox News broadcast arm was that Superstorm Sandy swung the election toward Obama.
They’re correct, but not in the way you think.
First of all, does anyone really want a ferocious, damaging, life-altering storm that killed dozens, left millions without power and thousands homeless, to happen? Okay, didn’t think so.
Consider, though, what did happen in the aftermath. Obama, a Democrat, and Chris Christie, New Jersey’s no-nonsense Republican governor, along with many other elected officials and government agencies of all stripes and persuasions, put aside their labels and worked together, doing everything within their power to address people’s needs in the wake of the storm.
That’s exactly what most people in America want out of their leaders. Not rhetoric, not ideological purity, not endless arguments that cause gridlock, division and rancor, but bipartisan solutions, common ground, a sense that in the end, we are all part of the same country, salute the same flag, and want the same good result for ourselves and those who follow.
Barack Obama recognized this, and has four more years in the White House. Now it’s up to Republicans to accept this result and help our president achieve great things for America, or continue to resist, say no to everything and risk even further damage to their brand and to the country they claim to love so much.