Wednesday, November 7, 2012

0 Mrs. Landingham, What's next?

I caught the politics bug when I was a young kid, sharing the couch with my parents watching the West Wing. The first four seasons with Aaron Sorkin writing are still the best thing ever to happen to television. For those who haven’t seen it, you should. For those who have, President Bartlett’s totally sweet show-closing line has been rattling around in my head all day.

What does come next?

If you look at the numbers and listen to more than a few pundits, you’ll hear them saying that this was a status-quo election. The Dems kept the Senate, and the House is still red. Obama’s still the president, and we’re still hurtling towards the fiscal cliff like Wile E. Coyote on rocket-powered roller skates. What comes next HAS to be compromise, and it has to be led by the President. It looks like Boehner sees the writing on the wall, but he’s up for a seriously tough fight. And it’s not just going to come from the Dems.

The Republicans lost. Bigtime. But why, when the economy had left the incumbent’s flank wide open and they’d just won the 2010 Congressional race in a landslide? And no, its not just about demographics, which are moving from bad to worse for the GOP.

Since the 2010 Tea Party victory in Congress, the currency of prestige in the Republican Party has been entirely based on how much they hate Barack Obama. Any hint of compromise with a Democrat is considered an excommunicable offense. Look at what’s happened to Dick Lugar and Olympia Snowe. The entire platform, starting with Mitch McConnell’s speech in 2008, has been to obstruct Obama’s agenda. Obstinacy and pettiness replaced new ideas and policy alternatives.

When it came to this race, the Republicans lost because of what ended up filling the vacuum. The Republicans lost because the premise of too many of their candidates was fear of the future. Too often was repeated the new Republican shibboleth: fear of gays, Latinos, immigrants, the youth and especially change.

I don’t really want to get into demographics, but on a side note the President won 70% of the Latino vote last night. Some people are saying that the fast growing population could make TEXAS a swing state by 2020. Not good if you’re a republican worried about the long-term.

The GOP simply threatened too many people with their tone and their vitriol. In a campaign, you can’t ignore Hispanics, women, and mainstream opinion on this many issues.  It’s one thing to take a hard stance when talking about more abstract issues like the economy, but it scares the living crap out of people when you start talking about abortion, rape, immigration, and vaginal probes.

Romney lost because he had to toe the line with these people to make it through the primary. And frankly, the Tea Party faction of the GOP has too much money and influence behind it to be ignored, and they’re not going anywhere. Their response to this election will likely be a call for even more ideological purity within the Republican ranks. They’ll dig their heels in, and we’ll have a showdown between Boehner and the moderates vs. Paul Ryan and the Tea Party. If Ryan is serious about running in 2016, do you think he’ll start by “looking weak” on something as high-profile as the fiscal cliff? The fact that Boehner is already moving to out-flank him 24 hours after the election speaks volumes. 


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