Wednesday, November 7, 2012

About Last Night (or, Electoral Perversity in Chicago)

So, how was your evening? Anything interesting happen last night? Anything good on television?

All kidding aside, let me indulge in a moment of horn blowing and take a victory lap. Go ahead and re-read this and be sure to click the last link. I'll wait.

Why, oh why, did I not play the lottery that day instead?

Where were we? Oh yes. A whole heap of good news awaited those of us who were willing to stay up into the wee hours of the morning as President Obama relatively comfortably earned a second term in office as President of the United States. In addition, the Democratic Party picked up Senate seats in Indiana, North Dakota(!), Connecticut and Wisconsin.

At long last, the arc of the universe finally bent toward justice, with Gay Marriage rights affirmed in Maine (again), Washington and Maryland, with an additional referendum voted down in Minnesota. Marijuana legalization proposals were approved in Washington and Colorado, though the degree to which those have any legal standing relative to federal laws is subject to additional debate.

Beyond that, additional progress was made when Tammy Baldwin won the Senate race in Wisconsin to become the first openly gay Senator. Last night's election ensured that New Hampshire's Governor and entire Congressional delegation would be female, a first.

Amongst the good news is some bad. Though the Democrats gained some seats in the House, unfortunately the Gerrymandering that occurred in the wake of a disastrous 2010 midterm election wave saw to it that the House stayed in Republican hands. Also, Toledo lost at home to Ball State in football and will likely fall out of the Top 25 as a result. But no one wins all the time.

 Grand Old (White) Party

There is a substantial amount of Wednesday Morning Quarterbacking material available that attempts to cut to the heart of the reasons behind the Republicans losing a Presidential race despite a lackluster economy, and failing to capitalize on an opportunity to seize control of Congress entirely. It's a large body of work, analyzed with more depth than I can do justice, but I'll try and touch upon some things that aren't so obvious and move on.

Much is made that the vast majority of African Americans vote Democratic. However, 88% of the Romney/Ryan ticket was white. That is no longer acceptable in a nation as diverse as the United States is. It was stated (in The Atlantic but sadly I can't find the article) that this was the last time a campaign micro targeted to a white suburban/exurban/rural audience could be tried at a national level, and that was proven true. The traditional coalition of white evangelicals, suburban/rural folks and the elderly cracked and sputtered to a halt in the face of changing demographics.

If the thought hasn't occurred to you already, it should: Romney/Ryan will be the last white male ticket you will see from the two major parties in your lifetime.

But to state "it's not the message, it's the medium", and to think that Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz making speeches about the federal deficit and creeping socialism is going to make these races competitive again is a fools errand. The GOP needs to do some serious soul searching as it relates to casting off the evangelical yoke and ridding itself of the Grover Norquists of the world, or the marginalization will proceed apace, though slower than we progressives would like.

If it wasn't obvious already, the GOP has reached the point where the inmates are running the asylum. Referendums that scapegoated gays and Hispanics (2004 and 2006) ultimately led to widespread voter revolt. Even George W Bush, for all of his unending faults, tried desperately through the first six years of his terms in office trying to reach a reasonable compromise on the landed immigrant issue. He understood that, to some extent, demography is destiny, and if you don't reach out to Hispanics they will desert you en masse. Human Rights issues aren't single issues, they are economic, personal, and they cut across every other issue that impacts people's lives.

The Evangelical yoke runs counter to the emerging point of view of Millennials in particular. Public opposition to birth control, reproductive rights and equal pay offend not only younger women but they cut directly across an important Millennial trend that I'll discuss in another article. Regardless, the party's desire to impose Messianic Law on the majority of the population has reached its expiry date.

On The Plus Side

I would talk about what the President accomplished at this point, but if you're hitting this website, you're pretty familiar with those accomplishments already. The good news is that Obamacare is here to stay, with the resulting assurances that, no matter how flawed it may be, people no longer have to die because they can't afford healthcare, or go bankrupt in the event they become seriously ill. With a Democratic Senate, we  are also likely to get Filibuster Reform, and Medicaid and Medicare will continue to exist in a feasible form.

So now that we know where we are, how do we figure out where we're going?

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