The shattering Democratic victory in the 2012 election revealed a nation split into two very different parts. The nation is divided into four neat portions: the Northeast, the Midwest, the West….and then there’s the South, not counting Florida which is its own strange self. The Northeast, Midwest and West constitute the three-quarters of the country that is sane….and then there’s the South.
In the sane three-quarters of the country, Obama won the popular vote by a staggering 7.3 million votes. In the South he lost by 4.7 million. The South is the one area in which Obama was outperformed by John Kerry’s race eight years earlier, because of the race issue. This really is a picture of two different countries.
In the sane three-quarters of the country, everything the Republicans tried, failed. Lies, evasions, attacks failed. Romney’s blatant lie about Jeep actually backfired. Rick Scott, John Husted and their fellow Republican criminals tried no less than seventy different ways to try to rig the voting, and failed to deliver either Ohio or Florida, a danger which Obama publicly demanded a fix for. The Israel-Iran scare tactics with Jewish voters fooled nobody. The Republicans had twenty one Democratic Senate seats to attack, and still failed to take the upper house.
The stunning amounts of conservative money, hundreds of millions worth of ads attacking Obama, couldn’t turn around those battleground states. With the exception of North Carolina, every state Obama chose to contest, he won. When the Republican donors carpet-bombed Sherrod Brown in Ohio, they failed there too: right now I am imagining the tiny, exhausted manager of a tiny, local radio station in Cincinnati building a gigantic swimming pool with all that Republican ad money. Sheldon Adelson backed six candidates with his pots of money, and lost all six races; in all, a lot of crazed rightwing billionaires are a lot poorer right now, with nothing to show for it. You think maybe Adelson and the Koch brothers will hire some rightwing goons to beat up Rove and Dick Armey and try to get their money back?
Mourdock and Akin, the candidates for rapists everywhere, with a chance to pick up two sure Republican gains, went down in flames; so did rightwing bomb-throwers Allen West, Joe Walsh and George Allen, and loudmouths like Tommy Thompson, Connie Mack and Josh Mandel flopped too. Michele Bachmann almost went down with them. America went for liberalism, and went big: they voted for Elizabeth Warren the feared banking regulator, a number of vulnerable Democrats, Democrats in red states, Democratic counter-puncher Alan Grayson, a gay Senator, gay marriage, a vulnerable judge who supported gay marriage, gays in red states, legal pot, voting rights, college for illegal immigrants, support for unions and minimum wage increases, lifting the California GOP’s endless ban on any taxation, and tax increases for schools; state funding for churches was blocked, and again the two loudmouth anti-abortion Senate candidates were crushed. New Hampshire, once a conservative bastion, is now ruled by five women. In the sensible three-quarters of the country, joy and sanity reigns.
But in that one quarter of the country that still has Confederate flags hanging off of their trailers and in their garages, where you can open your window and hear every car and every kitchen tuned into Rush Limbaugh all day, where reality only rarely penetrates, they are still in denial. Romney wouldn’t even write a concession speech, and if you read the text of his speech from election night, you can see that it was just his victory speech with a few words changed: there was no way he could lose, right? We all know the polls were wrong, right? The Romney campaign, Karl Rove and Donald Trump tried to persuade Republicans that the race wasn’t really over, perhaps hoping to drag out a recount and portray Obama as an “illegitimate” president, but even Fox News and John Husted threw in the towel. Sorry, Karl, you’re not conning Fox into crowning the President like you did in the Bush-Gore race.
When the Republicans are not arguing that “Obama didn’t really win, he doesn’t have a mandate, we can ignore all the Democratic victories because the national popular vote was close, Republicans won the House which means the people are for us”, and so forth, etc ….when they do accept that they really lost, the excuses begin. It was Sandy, it was Christie, it was the media, it was Romney who wasn’t a real conservative. They just can’t accept that America has taken a good look at Republican “values” and rejected them.
And by the way, speaking of popular votes and mandates, Bush’s mandate in 2000 was 47.9 percent to 48.4. Bush was on the 47.9 end, half a million votes behind Gore. Thanks to Sandra Day O’Connor, who admitted she wanted Bush to win so she could retire, Bush proceeded to exploit his negative-half-a-percent-mandate to rule like a despotic, autocratic Bourbon king in France. “Don’t count the votes! Illegal wars! Illegal wiretaps! Illegal detention of people I don’t like! Torture is good, empathy is bad! Fire U.S. attorneys who refuse to persecute my enemies! Screw Congress! Screw the press! To hell with balanced budgets! To hell with our European allies! To hell with the facts! I’ve got political capital and I’m going to spend it! L’etat c’est moi!” I’m surprised he didn’t govern on a velvet throne with a giant turkey leg in his hand like Henry VIII. After losing the popular vote.
Just in case anyone forgot.
So the Republican holy war will continue. America is sick to death of the campaign of obstruction waged by the Republicans, and even mild-mannered Harry Reid has promised to change the filibuster rules, but still the GOP has no plans to abandon their blood feud with Obama. Mitch McConnell is already demanding that Obama move even further to the right, before the GOP really really promises to meet him in the “center” this time. And maybe even let him kick a football! Boehner is saying the same: his notion of bipartisan compromise is…the existing GOP position. Then the old mantra of destroying Obama’s first term and making Obama a one-term president, a colossal gamble that backfired, will shift to new calls for Issa to draft articles of impeachment, particularly if the Republicans do well in the midterms.
And while tactically the Republicans will continue to hound Obama, strategically they will be ever more firm in their resolve that America will love Republicans as long as they can just be conservative enough. Cal Thomas, the morning after the election, was ranting that America, in choosing the Democrats, had given up on morality: Republicans, conditioned for years to argue that anyone who challenged President Bush hated the troops and America itself, really do believe that anyone who disagrees with them is morally and ethically suspect, and that compromising with Democrats is akin to negotiating with terrorists. Appeasement. They will never let go of their far-right views, and will continue to expel apostates like Dick Lugar from their ranks. To wave an unlamented farewell to turncoats like Olympia Snowe. Day after day, they will further affirm their twisted view of reality in the Fox/Rush echo chamber.
They will continue to drive more and more sane people out of their party, so that even their base supporters will begin to crack. Obama, with the help of Latinos, won a majority of Catholics even though the church was screaming about Obama’s alleged attack on religious liberty, and Obama the scary Muslim even got thirty percent of the evangelical vote. Obama also made inroads with Cuban-Americans, so all you Republicans who think that nominating Marco Rubio is the short route to winning Florida and the White House might want to take a second look down there.
All of this sets up the Republicans for a serious butt-kicking in 2016.
In 2016 the Democrats will field a white candidate who is more immune to the personal attacks of the Republicans, someone readier than Obama for a street fight, defending a stronger economy, leading waves of Democratic voters who are hell-bent on overcoming the efforts of guys like Rick Scott to make it harder for them to vote, and an electorate enjoying the benefits of Obamacare, the safeguarding of Social Security and Medicare, and an improving job market. Unions will be energized by Scott Walker and John Kasich; women will be energized; the tea party will be discredited and the old white guys will begin to age off the system.
So the Democrats will be even stronger next time, and even begin to contest southern states by going after the minority vote. If a black presidential candidate can come within about ten points in Georgia, the Carolinas, Missouri, there is territory to exploit down there, once the Democrats begin rebuilding their party down south. Obama, a black candidate, only lost 55 to 44 in Mississippi! Better outreach to Latinos can put Texas into play, and once Texas is on the table, there is no big state that is still safe for the GOP. The more the old-white-guy demo shrinks, the purpler the South gets.
In the 2016 election, the Republicans will fall further behind with women, minorities, gays, and the young, in their obsessive focus on your typical Republican stalwart: an aging white male with a high-school education, with more tattoos than teeth. They will be leading their shrinking platoons of old white guys, and an increasingly reluctant phalanx of fatcat donors who are still wondering what they got for their money in 2012. Unless the zealots can figure out some way for their wimmin-folk to magically begin giving birth to more seventy-year-old angry white guys who like to wear hats and drive Buicks really really slow, they will have a serious demographic headache.
The GOP zealots will shout down the pragmatists. “Sure, I know, we need women, but we can’t back down on abortion or contraception! Sure we need Latinos, but we can’t budge on immigration! And hell no to gay marriage!”
And at the top of the ticket they will no longer have a man like Romney, a gifted liar who fooled a lot of people into thinking he was a moderate and a bridge-builder. Romney really was the best opponent they could have sent up against Obama. Next time Team Red will be led by a total whackadoodle like Bachmann, Santorum, Newt, a member of the dreaded Paul family, or Donald Trump. Or Sarah Palin, if the Gods of Politics are smiling on the Democrats. Or some thug-like coward like Chris Christie who will burst into flames of rage the first time a reporter asks him a hostile question. Or some reality-denier like Paul Ryan who will even lose a big part of the old white guy vote because of Medicare and Social Security. So the eight-year Democratic reign in the White House will be….sixteen years.
All you Republicans who are laughing at my prediction were the same ones ridiculing my predictions for Obama in 2008 and 2012. You just never learn, so you?