Had the recent election been solely about economic issues then Mitt Romney would have won, at least so all the polls indicate and those were amazingly accurate regarding the outcome this time (excepting only those bought/paid for by the politicians themselves, who got what they wanted to hear and wasted $1 billion that would have been better spent by giving it to the Red Cross).
Much of the postmortem dissection of the election results – and the Grand Old Party’s poor outcomes even in many Senate/House contests – quite correctly have focused on what is dubbed “demographic changes” in the electorate.
It has long been expected that — around 2040-50 — the purely racial makeup of the nation due to population trends (birth, longevity, legal immigration) would make whites fall from the majority.
While a cause of fear and trembling among some such a purely racial way of looking at it is dumb to start with. Those who understand and appreciate American founding principles should easily grasp that ideas such as “liberty and justice for all” and an absolute right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” are an expression of human “unalienable rights” having nothing to do with race, sex, age or religious beliefs. We’ve got ‘em and government has nothing to do with them other than keeping its hands off.
As most political/media pundits have observed what occurred – for the second presidential election in a row – was a coalition of social-issue demographics, some but hardly all with racial elements, creating a winning voter coalition that worried more about threats to its individually rooted rights than about economic questions. The fella named Mitt wasn’t to blame but it looked to many like GOP government wanted its mitts all over our personal choices.
THE TIDES of history thus washed up to erode the white-guy beaches of power earlier than expected. Had the campaign been limited to economics, national debt, taxation and other matters most everyone agrees are best handled by government (universal education, public safety, defense, foreign affairs) there could have been a different outcome.
However, in a blunder that not too terribly long ago the Democrats made that cost them power (remember segregation?) many with Republican leadership voices have taken absolutist social positions – and then sought to legislate them to impose their beliefs on a supposedly free people. Instead of stumbling into quicksand on a single social issue (civil rights) as the Democrats largely did, the majority image created by the GOP has been one of hostility toward all those “not believing like us.” Not all Republicans feel/act/look this way to be sure, no more than was the case with the Democrats of yesteryear although, in both cases, it is and was more visible in the area where our readers live.
The result — nationally far more than in Georgia yet and even less in Greater Rome than in Georgia — is that the voting pattern change has come earlier than expected.
According to the exit polls, some 72 percent of the electorate turnout was white and voted for Romney by a 20 percent margin. It lost. And it may never win again unless making some fundamental changes in the image that the GOP choices currently create. President Obama got 93 percent of black votes, carried Hispanics and Asians by more than 70, women by 11 percent, gays by 54 percent, those under 29 by 23 percent.
Many were for him as a person, to be sure, but many were actually far more against what the Republicans appeared to stand for in areas other than the dollar-based ones.
THIS IS actually easy to repair, although possibly no longer in the Republican DNA. The GOP has to eliminate hard-line stances on social issues and let a free people hash such matters out for themselves. It absolutely should never seek to use government power to make those who disagree do what they don’t wish to do – no more than any American would ever expect to be told what church to attend ... or whether to profess a religion at all.
Republicans, particularly at state/local levels where the worst offenses occur, need to cease and desist with pushing laws that attack freedom of personal choice. Even now, with the Georgia General Assembly soon to reconvene, it is entirely predictable that most of the proposals gaining attention will be on social issues. Indeed, anything not lopsidedly involving economics/budget/money/basic services should be declared off limits by the Republican leadership.
No, that doesn’t mean those can’t be brought up as our basic rights – freedom to believe what you want to believe – demand such an ability. It just means that those who want to give their party a fighting chance to survive should not give such matters much if any committee/discussion time. Similarly the party (and the media) need to recognize that those who open mouth before engaging brain don’t deserve a megaphone.
The so-called tea party really took it on the chin in the election results because of this, losing some of its hottest heads. Initially a bipartisan movement against government spending too much on the wrong things (and maybe not enough on the right things) the tea party allowed its original cause — economic in nature — to seemingly be taken over by those for whom social issues dominated and who insisted upon all that ails the United States being seen in terms of the nation’s diversity. In reality, since the very beginning, diversity and a willingness to ultimately change with times and attitudes has always been this nation’s strength and not its weakness.
INDEED, LOOKING at referendum results from states across the country, it is very obvious how strong and ascendant the so-called splinter and supposedly “minority” movements have become. Gay marriage, legalizing marijuana – even adding taxes to rich folks and dumping the “three strikes” penal policy -- won almost everywhere such questions were offered.
This is not meant to say Republicans – or Democrats for that matter – should shut up on such matters. It means they need to allow the people, as with Sunday sales of alcohol, to make the determination as much as possible but never, ever if it means denying individuals their freedom to disagree. If they wish to say such as individuals … fine. The same stances taken as party spokespersons is a death wish.
It never ceases to amaze how few citizens appear to understand that “majority rules” does not mean the majority mandates. It is hallmark of America, and most democracies with ancestral roots in what this nation started, that dissent is not only tolerated but accommodated.
Republicans have largely shot themselves in the ballot box by giving the impression that they want to tell all citizens what to do, order them around. Democrats often actually do just that, but tend to be more sly about it.
Republicans need to get back to where they started. This will be a slow process. Saying it is not doing it. They tend to look like the party of “angry white males” because that is largely all they’ve got out there as the front men.
They can’t claim to be willing to compromise while giving all their sound bites to the “my way or the highway” types … and running one for vice president. They can’t convince anyone they know how to create a new and better tomorrow when they run a candidate who in 2012 looks and sounds as though he is auditioning to replace Robert Young in the lead role of the 1950s situation comedy “Father Knows Best.”
POLITICAL PARTIES are not the people and never have been. Perhaps because of the size and complexity of this country it is now impossible to engage the electorate in thought without them, as George Washington wished in warning the United States in his “Farewell Address” that they would be the ruination of the American vision.
However, if this experiment of ours is going to work there have to be at least two good political parties so they can be played off against each other to avoid a dictatorship.
Democrats are hardly angels or even defenders of individual freedom. They largely have come to appear so to an apparently successful national majority coalition because of how hostile Republicans have come to appear to be toward many minority interest groups.
Democrats like to say they are the party of the “big tent” that allows all to stay dry and safe beneath it. To considerable extent, that is true although rich guys may have to pay admission to get in. The Republicans, on the other hand, have managed to make themselves look like the party of the Tower of Babel.
Republicans need to get back to a single set of strong messages, largely regarding free enterprise and free will, spoken in a language that can be understood.