Home 2012 races A True Change Election

A True Change Election


US-VOTE-2012-ELECTION-OBAMAIf Republicans can’t get enough old white dudes to support their extremist policies, they have to cheat by trying to prevent young & brown people from voting – and even that doesn’t work anymore.

That’s what I’ll remember most about the 2012 election. Yes, I’ll remember Mitt Romney making class warfare explicit with his 47% comment, Paul Ryan making generational warfare explicit in the vice presidential debate, Rick Santorum explaining that he’s against welfare for blah people, George Allen running a campaign that made Fred Thompson look passionate & energetic, and Scott Brown begging Elizabeth Warren to stop bringing his party into their campaign. Oh, and Mitt wanting to fire Big Bird.

But I’ll most remember how far the GOP has narrowed its field of play, as Buzzfeed visually explained. The 2012 elections have revealed just how much the GOP’s exclusionary extremism – against brown people, against women’s rights, against LGBT equal rights, against young people, against low-income families, against conservation, against cities – have narrowed Republican path to victory.  

When you hear that Mitt Romney barely scraped out a win in North Carolina while losing Ohio, Virginia, Colorado, New Hampshire, Iowa and likely Florida … and that a Senate that was supposed to be primed for GOP takeover is now a Democratic gainif I was a Republican, I’d be wondering how Karl Rove’s plan for a permanent conservative majority has suddenly flipped into a minimum of eight years of playing defense.

As Duncan Black put it at Atrios, “For awhile it was ‘the heartland’ and ‘the South’ and now it’s simply ‘white dudes in the heartland and the South.'” And with that core constituency, the plan still worked! They not only won big percentages of white men, they turned them out in high numbers. The GOP’s percentage of the white vote was the highest it’s been since George H.W. Bush clobbered Mike Dukakis in 1988.

But in 2012, that’s not enough to win a national election – or even a statewide election in much of America. Look at Jon Tester pulling out a surprise win in Montana, or Bill Nelson destroying Connie Mack in Florida.

I wish I could say that I was confident today that Republicans across America are blinking their eyes, wondering how they could’ve fallen under the spell of Karl Rove, Rush Limbaugh  & David Koch as they lined their own pockets and marginalized the entire party. In an ideal world, a Republican Party interested in broadening its base could return to that pragmatic past and play a critical role in hammering out solutions to some of our biggest problems – from immigration reform to climate action to easing skyrocketing student loan debt burden.

I grew up in a New England that was filled with reasonable Republicans, people like Lincoln Chafee, Bill Weld and Jim Jeffords. Having strong, sensible Republican candidates on the ballot kept Democrats honest & on their toes. (And unlike Christine O’Donnell, Richard Mourdock & Todd Akin, they actually won statewide elections.) But you know how this story ends: Chafee, Weld & Jeffords were all subsequently cast out of the GOP.

But today those same hucksters are telling Republicans that they didn’t go far right enough. It was Sandy! And the media! And the blahs! And Mitt was never one of us in the first place! And if you’ll just write a check to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or Karl Rove’s Super PAC, next time it’ll all be different. They promise.

  • Dan Sullivan

    New England Republicans were a breath of fresh air when I was growing up. Transplanted Winthrop Rockefeller won the governorship against a race baiting Democrat. To give you a flavor of the times:

    Johnson accused the segregationist Faubus of working behind the scenes for racial integration.

    You know Orval Faubus…Little Rock Central High School…And Rockefeller managed to beat the extremist because good people can be inspired to act their better selves.

    Today, Jim Johnson would be a Republican. And Winthrop Rockefeller would not be welcome in his Party. It is as simple as that.

  • kindler

    And indeed the Repubs have painted themselves into a corner.

    The usual pattern in American politics has been that the party out of power finds a way to adapt itself to get back into power.  So chances are that they will change just enough to open up their coalition to let a few people who don’t look like Romney into the tent.  

    And sadly, too many times we have let down our guard and spent our time squabbling with one another while these consummate marketers found a new BS message to sell to the public and sneak back into power.  Let’s not do that again…

  • Elaine in Roanoke

    The two fallacies that have controlled Republican thinking for the past decade or two were part and parcel of the party’s humiliation on Tuesday.

    1. Motivating people by arousing fear and hate (Lee Atwater/Karl Rove politics)only works for a time. Then, some of the very people who fell for that realize nothing has really hurt them, after all.

    2. Appealing to an ever-smaller group of white males means you have no appeal for the rest of the population. Specific example: White males comprise only 31% of the American population. In 2010 more than 86% of the GOP caucus in Congress was comprised of white males. The Democratic caucus was a bit over 50% and for the upcoming Congress will be slightly less than 50%. Put another way, the Democratic Party reflects the actual population of the nation. It’s younger, more diverse, less socially conservative than the GOP.

  • Jim B

    As a poster on another site remarked he thought that the angry whites would die off after he voted for Carter and the angry whites voted for Reagan. Well, they haven’t died off yet. Maybe the anger is being passed to their off springs.