So we’ve survived this last round of presidential elections and I managed to only discuss it in the Twitterverse. Then Romney and Ryan and the other annoying “r” guy… Rove, began their assault on the voting public due to their failure to acquire a win. There are some significant lessons to be learned here for Democrats and Republicans alike.
But first, a little history… In 1991, at the tender age of 18, I registered as a Republican for my first election. Why? Well, it was contrary to my parents political views and I did believe it to be the original party of Lincoln. Parenthetically, based on the cheesy films I was exposed to in the ’80’s, I also thought it was the party of rich people and by being one, I’d somehow be rich. That never happened. Ultimately, William Jefferson Clinton happened to me and I was wooed over to declare my status as a Democrat where I have remained since, firmly aligned with core democratic values and principles. But I digress.
It is worth noting that Ronald Reagan began his career as a Democrat and later switched to the Republican party. (Under the Republican party he served as Governor of California and ultimately succeeded Jimmy Carter as President of the United States.) While I began as a Republican, I associated myself as a Republican with liberal leanings, who was very concerned with social issues and ensuring that all people had basic needs met, without necessarily having big government. In short, I was and continue to be at heart, a Lincoln Republican. This context is relevant because as a voter who is (1) female, (2) a child of social and political activist, (3) Caribbean descent (specifically Puerto Rican and Barbadian), and (4) politically astute, I am not your typical run of the mill voted down the ticket voter. I vote and have voted across party lines. I stay informed on current and historical trends. I live and love politics and believe in our government and leadership. I’ve read the constitution, the bill of rights. In short, I am a true Lincoln Republican/moderate Democrat.
But the reality is that party of Lincoln no longer exists. And Reagan Republicans have been forced out of the Republican party because they are too moderate and/or liberal in their leanings to be accepted. Even Senator John McCain’s daughter and wife have advised Republicans to evolve or die. And while many liberals and conservative, extreme leftist and right wingers don’t care if the Republicans evolve or not, I do. I care about those who have been left out of the political process because they don’t fit an either/or category. I care that it is in the interest of the citizens of this country to have at minimum a two-party system (if not a multi-party system) which, focuses more on policies than rhetoric. Americans should have a real opportunity to choose the best leaders to represent us, not least bad of two. And more importantly, I care where those votes will go over the next four years, in 2016, and beyond.
So, where does that leave us?
With a Democratic party that was against the ropes in 2010 and rebounded thanks to a sect of extreme right-wing social conservatives that managed to hold hostage the Republican party. And with GOPers became weak-kneed and scared that folks like the Tea Party Movement (note movement, not party) had somehow created a large and concentrated base that required pandering to. Everyone jumped on that fascist band wagon and Republicans moved from the middle to the far right in order to show an essentially racist coalition, that they were on their side. In 2010, the Dems were reeling from a butt kicking, the GOP is now in the same boat.
2008 brought back the Lee Atwater Southern Republican strategy (a la Karl Rove per Reagan) to scare the crap out of White Americans regarding African Americans. They increased their efforts around utilizing “code words” to speak to those fears publicly and institutionally in the hallowed halls of government. And it was this particular strategy, the Atwater strategy, that Romney and Ryan employed in this election. Only we saw it. We knew. And, as Americans (with a slim majority 50.6% vs 47.8%) we did not find it acceptable. This election was a fight about the soul of America; who we are and what we represent.
Let me be clear (and I say this as an Obama supporter) I agree with my good friend, Obama would not have won had Romney stayed true to his core moderate Republican roots and base. Had Romney remained centered and not pandered to the racist and extremist base as he did, women, liberals, Latinos (who are a diverse and disparate voting bloc), independents, and those who were disappointed in his performance would not have voted for Obama. But instead, Romney’s inconsistencies, his rhetoric, along with those of Fox News idiots, and the Rush Limbaugh’s of the world ensured an Obama win through their Atwater-ish stupidity. And even now they continue.
The GOP need to realize, people by in large did not vote for Obama per se. They voted to reject the GOP’s message and proposed policies. They voted to send a message to the party that while they were pissed off at Obama in 2010, they are thoroughly disgusted with the direction that the party has gone in 2012. Marco Rubio is changing his stance (passively), Bobby Jindal is back to opening his mouth after being silenced by his party, and other prominent Republican leaders are suggesting that the party reflect and regroup (via a proctology exam).
The GOP as is should die. The level of hate and racism emitting from the party’s leadership and its pundits is divisive and horrible for this country. As Meghan McCain stated in her Tweet, it must evolve, it must reflect the growing diversity that is America, it must embrace its roots as the party of Lincoln, it must review in great detail, it’s decision to move so far to the right and those implications. OR it should embrace it’s current extreme configuration with aplomb. And if they do, those with any basic sense and love for this country, should create a nationally recognized 3rd party that holds true the core principles of the Republicans while ensuring its evolution.
And my fellow Dems should take heed. We should not pat ourselves on our collective backs or rest on our laurels. People, throughout this nation, are pissed off and disenfranchised with their political leadership. From local state races to major national races, the people are getting tired of the bullshit. And they should. With social media being utilized to share information and call out mis-information, we have a more sophisticated constituency who seeks results and accountability of its leadership. Obama won by 2.8%. That isn’t much and it is a message for those in either party willing to listen. While the GOP is licking it’s wounds, now is the time to batten down the hatches, take a good look at ourselves, and make sure that the next election (when the campaign begins in roughly 2.5) we can give the voting public a clear reason why they should continue to let us represent them. Because the jury on that is still out. And there is enough time to rebuild a party or create a New Republican Party…