Where do we go from here?

November 7, 2012

I am apolitical, and again finding no candidate that I think represents me, I chose not to cast a vote.  So I do not speak as a sore loser or a gloating winner.

1.  The conditions of this election seemed eerily familiar … very similar in some regards to 1980 … a bad economy, a Democratic incumbent, and a Republican Party somewhat itching to regain their place in the wake of Watergate/losing to some junior upstart with little experience.  Unlike 1980, Mitt Romney lacked that Reagan charisma.  He also saw a party that had internal squabbling.  In theory, the Republicans should have been able to run Big Bird and win this election … and they could not deliver.  They couldn’t even deliver the second biggest prize in the South.  In my book, this is a catastrophic loss for the Republicans nationally.  One quote I saw but it best:  Did Romney carry any of the states he has a home in?  It seemed like the people who voted for him, knew him the least.

The finger pointing even started today when Rupert Murdoch’s (billionaire tyrant) New York Post pointed the finger at the tearful Governor Christie of New Jersey for acknowledging that the President was human (let alone the president) in the past week, claiming toe the effect that if he didn’t deliver New Jersey for Romney, that the next four years were on his head.  Throw in Donald Trump’s call for a march on Washington, and instead of salvaging something, the day was essentially lost, except for a few gains in the House, but even those came with caveats.

I will give the Republicans credit for one lesson learned:  they took the same tact with their VP this time around, but kept him in the background.  It can’t be overstated how much Sarah Palin cost John McCain in 2008.  They took advantage of her star power and ability to move a crowd, but one-on-one, she was a complete and utter mess who grabbed the wheel of the campaign and sent it careening over the cliff.  Like in 2008, the Republicans needed a far right conservative to buoy up the more moderate Romney, and they went with a young whippersnapper, Paul Ryan, and did everything they could to keep him out of the public eye …. sending him to those fundraisers which would feature his kind of people: far right wing folks with deep pockets.  In that sense, the Republican plan was successful.  Paul Ryan did little that cost the election, and it is doubtful that keeping him behind the curtains hurt the campaign’s standing with the far right.  There is also a boon for Democrats:  in staying out of sight, Ryan’s street cred is not damaged too much by the loss, so the Republicans might be tempted to have him run again … which the Democrats would be thrilled with considering that the last two election cycles have provided strong evidence that far right wing politicians are a political liability on the national stage.

2.  Despite the wind blowing strong, the neoconservative “Tea Party” folks got a loud and clear “get out of Dodge” message sent to them.  They survive, but in vastly reduced numbers now, and only in smaller, controlled areas.  Republicans who were pushed right in 2008 had to scramble back to the center when they saw the change in the winds among the electorate.  This I see as great news!  The days of Congressman signing pledges of “I won’t do ‘x'”, and then sticking to it in defiance of compromise or dialogue seems to have struck the proverbial iceberg.  While the Republicans likely added a bit in the House, the House should be a bit less strident now:  not only in the wake of the loss of some Tea Party backed candidates, but because the nation sent some interesting messages:

A.  George Allen in Virginia:  After you call a non-Caucasian a monkey in front of a campaign rally, you should not expect to be able to wait four years and call it even.

B.  Connie Mack, hardly the most conservative representative from Florida, goes down in a senate run … while hardly lockstep with George W. Bush, he signed promises to not compromise … and that may have caught up to him when he had to face more than a local electorate.

C.  Wisconsin … the same state who elected an amateur hard line governor, now turns its back on a moderate Republican former governor … to elect the first openly gay senator.  You wonder what is going on up there in Wisconsin?  I guess that we have to remember that this is the state that gave us Arbor Day and Joe McCarthy.  I embrace people not voting a party line … but you rarely see a state embrace the extremes quite like land of milk and cheese.  As further proof, Paul Ryan from Janesville did not do enough to swing the electorate toward the Romney ticket.

D.  Illinois cleaned house … quite a few Republicans lost races for the state General Assembly …. Jesse Jackson, Jr. who is not only indicted, but has been away from Congress in a rehab facility for depression to the point that he didn’t even campaign, still won re-election.  An attempt to strip protections on public pensions was defeated.

E.  Remember when people thought Michele Bachmann had a chance to win the Republican nomination?  As of 1 am, she is neck and neck with her opponent to hold her seat in Congress (someone who has never won an election).  This could be the most symbolic result of the night, if she loses …

F.  In Indiana,a pro-charter schools state superintendent was sent packing for a new leader who wants to focus on genuine reform in the public schools.

In short:  While moderates as a whole didn’t win many elections, the overall leaning of the political landscape has clearly taken a shift away from the far right.  The encroachment from the extreme right got stopped pretty cold.

3.  A lot needs to be done.  While there are a few signs that there is some inkling of a recovery on some horizon, there are still worrying signs, not the least of which is Europe teetering to on a precipice with record high unemployment, threatening to take us back to the start of this mess all over  again.  There are a lot of difficult choices that need to be made … I think ultimately, we are going to see higher taxes, especially on the richer folks.  I think that we are going to see cuts made to services.  We are all going to have to deal with the mantra of paying more and getting less out of it after a few decades of paying less and getting a lot for what you paid.

Screeching fear mongering in politics is hardly new, and it hasn’t gone away, but I hope that the new normal for a time involves a bit more discussion and compromise instead of accusing others of doing nothing while sitting there and not budging.