It’s the Party, Stupid: Despite what you might hear, the voters sent a clear mandate to Washington

[Post updated below]

Looking back, the most surprising thing about last night’s election results was how quickly, quietly and deeply the knife cut.

As voting counts and exit polls began trickling in shortly after 8:00 EST, the Fates quickly began tipping their hand to show that neither a Romney presidency nor a Supreme Court intervention was in the cards.  By 8:30 the legions of right wing pundits that had spent the past two weeks mocking and trashing Nate Silver’s statistical chops had the common decency to shut the hell up and pretend the whole kerfuffle had never happened. (Except, of course, for Examiner darling Dean Chambers of Unskewed Polls who courageously carried on the battle to keep his head in the sand.)  An hour later everyone was announcing that despite the economy, the Democrats would retain control of the Senate.  Less that an hour after that, the presidential writing was on the wall in huge, blue brush strokes.  With tons of votes still to be counted, all of the networks finally announced what viewers had already figured out: Obama was getting four more years.

I spent much of my evening last night with remote control in hand, switching back and forth between CNN, MSNBC and FOX, and I have to say that although they reported the exact same data the differences between the three were somewhat fascinating.

Wanting to appear the wonky objective news source, CNN spent the first couple of hours showing not-yet meaningful county-by-county statistics in swing states.  (“We see here that in Fairfax County, Obama is down two percent as compared to how he performed in 2008.  However, we want to caution everyone that only about 1% of the vote is in, so this number doesn’t really mean anything.  We’ll be revisiting this county every two to three minutes or so to remind you what the numbers are and why it’s still too early for them to matter.”)  MSNBC seemed to find a way to put on objective, serious, solemn faces matched with measured, earnest tones that still somehow managed to communicate “Neaner, neaner, neaner!”

On FOX, sad and resigned body language announced Obama’s victory hours before they declared him the winner.  But even then, even after they had talked Karl Rove off the ledge, the point they kept hammering home was that Obama didn’t really win because there was no mandate.  Rove, Krauthammer, Ms. Cheney, Ingram, Palin, Kelly, Hume, it didn’t really matter.  The message from the Republican anchors and pundits was clear: Despite winning the popular vote, (as it now appears likely) the Electoral College by a whopping 126 votes, and three seats in the Senate, the voters had sent a message to Obama that they were not mandating a continuation of his policies.  And as bizarre as this sounds, I have to say that I agree with them.

Because from where I sit, the clear message the public sent to Washington wasn’t that they wanted to be governed by Democrats. It was that they really, really don’t want to be governed by Republicans.


Over the coming months Republican leaders, pundits and voters will be sifting through the ashes of what can only be called a disastrous and failed election.  Despite a recession and general disenchantment with both the status quo and the president, the GOP got their asses handed to them.  If yesterday’s results had occurred during an economic boom, they would have pointed to a strong and respectable moral victory.  As things stand, however, they stink of failure.

Odds are that the common wisdom from conservatives will be that this presidential election was lost because the GOP fielded a weak candidate.  In this, they will be halfway right.  Though I think he would have been a fine executive, Romney was indeed a terrible candidate for most of America.  But it’s instructive to note that the reason he was such a terrible candidate is that the Republican base made him that way.  If Republicans want even a whiff of New White House smell in 2016, they need to come to terms with that quickly.

Because it’s the way we Americans craft every primary narrative, the story told is that thanks to his perseverance and popular message in 2011 and early 2012, Mitt Romney eventually won over his party’s base to get the nod.  This is hogwash.  That part of the GOP that is by definition not the GOP base voted for Romney, because after he quickly and repeatedly eviscerated Perry he was the only real choice for social moderates.  The base never, ever wanted him.  Instead, as I said last winter, they took turns pledging their undying support to one base-friendly candidate after another, casting each quickly aside once blemishes were found.  Romney didn’t win their hearts; they just ran out of people to be enthused about.  By the end, the base had neatly divided its primary votes up between Paul, Bachmann, Santorum, Cain and Gingrich; the RINO dregs left to Romney were more than enough to push him over the top.

What Republicans need to realize is that had they succeeded running any one of those “true conservatives” in the general election they would have lost by numbers of Biblical proportions, and might have put the House at risk as well.  In order to win the nomination, Romney had to temporarily align himself with positions that the Republican base thinks are mainstream but aren’t.  (Think: preemptive war on Iraq, building giant walls across the border, contraception issues, becoming a “Christian Nation,” etc.)  Had the base been willing to cut him loose to win once the primary was complete, Romney might have had good shot at winning the general.  Instead, as I have previously noted the thought of the base abandoning him continually forced him to tack further right. Worse, it put him in a position where he constantly had to pretend he was someone else, which made him seem both plastic and spineless.  (Compare, if you will, any of his stump speech performances to the confident, humble, honorable and comfortable guy that thanked his volunteers in a concession speech last night.  That guy would have smoked Obama.)

If you don’t believe that, look at how the Republicans botched the Senate – which history and the economy said was rightfully theirs for the taking.  Elizabeth Warren beat moderate Scott Brown, but I believe most analysts will agree that this is simply because in a high profile election, Massachusetts voters were going to elect a Democrat over a Republican, even one that had performed as well as Brown had.  But a look at the other two high profile races is instructive.  In each, the party’s refusal to learn from “Flukegate” cost them dearly.

Missouri Democrat incumbent Claire McCaskill was caught using taxpayer money to fund a private airplane she owned to the tune of $88,000.  Republicans in that conservative state should have unseated her easily, since such a breach of public trust is plenty of reason to lose one’s job.  But they lost anyway, because they chose to nominate Todd Akin  – a man that was so outside of the American mainstream that he seemed genuinely puzzled at women’s reaction to his claim that women who are “legitimately” raped have secret juices that shut that whole pregnancy thing down.

Similarly, Republican stronghold Indiana should have been safe from Democratic control and no doubt would have if the party had nominated a Scott Brown (or kept Lugar) instead of Richard Mourdock.  Inexplicably, when Mourdock made his now infamous comment about God and rape, Republicans – who were at that moment anxiously trying to court the women’s vote – publically came to his defense and just dug their hole that much deeper.  “If you read the actual transcript,” they said over and over in the media, “you’ll see he doesn’t actually advocate rape:

‘Even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.’

See?  God just wanted that child to be conceived – He never wanted that woman to be raped.” None of them ever stopped to consider that when they said this, the message independent women were hearing – whether they mean to to sound this way or not –  was “God wanted that man to impregnate that woman – it isn’t God’s fault she wouldn’t consent.”

When their leaders are caught saying such things, the reaction from conservative pundits is telling.  Seemingly convinced that they hold a large majority that they just don’t, they act like guys at a frat party.  They tell a woman that wants her healthcare coverage to include contraception that she should have sex in front of a camera so they can get off to her.  They run “funny” cover stories written by men in their “respected” magazines that argue that men that have daughters instead of sons are weak p**sies.  They tell women who sludge out to their own political rallies that they assumed they are there to talk about shoes.  When faced with the reality that these kinds of statement bother a lot of women, they simply reconstruct reality in their heads until they convince themselves that chicks really dig them and hate guys like Obama – which itself only digs that gender hole deeper.

But it’s more than just women.  In an ever-changing landscape where white, male voters continue to shrink as a percentage of the overall electorate, Republicans still don’t understand why black voters don’ get that telling black candidates to “go back to Africa” is just a joke, or why black voters might object to treating a shooting victim as a gangsta’ thug to score political points.  Or why Latinos, regardless of their stance on illegal immigration, might find disconcerting a law that might have allowed people to be stopped on the basis of looking like an illegal immigrant.

I maintain that both racism and sexism exist on all sides of the aisle(s).  But at the moment, the GOP has a huge PR and electability issue that is theirs alone.  Because even if Republicans are correct in their constant claims that their team has far fewer bigots than their counterparts (a big “if”), they’re still the party that seems to take frat-boy glee in flaunting their own side’s transgressions.  It’s as if the desire to be seen as non-PC trumps everything else, including both losing non-white male votes and – in some cases – defending actual racism and sexism out of spite.  They would rather offend  60% 0f female voters or 90% of black voters than tell some asshat with an (R) in front of their name that he’s being offensive.  (Up to a point that is – they certainly came down hard on Derbyshire… well, most of them, anyway.)

Simply put, Republicans need to grow up, grow a pair and grow a more inclusive constituency.  And they need to do it fast.


Update:  I had meant to put this point in the post intially but forgot; it’s important enough that I’m adding it as an update:

The flip side of this mandate is just as true for the Democrats.  They would therefore by wise to pick their battles and work as if they had eked out a one vote victory and needed to earn the voters trust.  If they don’t they could very easily see a repeat of 2010 in two years.

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129 thoughts on “It’s the Party, Stupid: Despite what you might hear, the voters sent a clear mandate to Washington

  1. Tod, this essay is awesome squared.

    I’ve read many, many analyses over the last year of the growing disconnect between the Republican base and the American mainstream. But this one was better, and better written (and more fun to read) than any of them.

    I raise my glass to you.


  2. [T]he clear message the public sent to Washington wasn’t that they wanted to be governed by Democrats. It was that they really, really don’t want to be governed by Republicans.

    This This This.

    In Northern IL, it’s not only mouth-breathers like Joe Walsh who lost– even defensibly moderate GOP incumbents lost. Voters simply were not taking any more dang chances. In fact, Dold’s campaign was a beneficiary of Bloomberg’s new PAC (perhaps that funding just didn’t come soon enough), and Biggert? Heck ..

    In an historic first, DuPage County will seat a Democrat—Tom Cullerton—for the first time in the state’s history.

    The waay overdue Serious Conversation will finally be, I hope, “What does the GOP do now?” Their 2010 sweep had an underlying downside for the Party: they read it as the go-ahead for going off the rails and certainly the Hill Critters felt emboldened in their obstructionism. It’ll be fascinating to see what happens on The Hill in the next Congress. Plus, Obama now has no reason not to strap on his biggest set of cojones.

    The political junkie side of me is [perversely?] excited by the prospects of the next four years. But honest to god, I’m equally relieved that this long painful slog of an election is finally over.


  3. Because from where I sit, the clear message the public sent to Washington wasn’t that they wanted to be governed by Democrats. It was that they really, really don’t want to be governed by Republicans.

    The message I got was that the first [or second, depending on how you count] black president was not going to be tossed out, esp if black America had anything to say about it and they did—despite 14+% black unemployment and even worse for the kids.

    And FTR, I don’t see this as a bad thing, it just is. It’s easy for non-blacks to underestimate just how much Barack represents to American blacks. Obama tells the story in one of his books about the day Harold Washington won the mayor’s office in Chicago. it was virtually a sea change for the black community’s self-image and self-actualization.

    Or at least it seemed so at the time. Same as now. In 2 or 4 years, unless the president turns over a new leaf on his confrontational style of leadership, black America is still going to be in the pits, and there is no demographic wonder like Barack on the horizon to take his place.


    • “The message I got was that the first [or second, depending on how you count] black president…”

      Can you flesh out what you mean by this? Only one President has ever laid claim to African or African-American heritage.


    • Tom, I’m going to put this in the simplest and politest terms I can.

      Beyond agreeing with Obama that government has a role, beyond what Obama means symbolically, one of the huge reasons Democrats get 95% of the black vote is because Republicans say things like what you just said.


      • Not really, Katherine. If you read me charitably, I was not condemning, I was explaining. This is the second time in a month you’ve insinuated racism on my part, but you don’t know a damn thing about me. I have a strong interest in Black History, have spent much time on in and in correspondence on it. I’m trying o convey what Harold Washington ment to black Chicagoans, what he meant to Obama himself, and what Barack means to black America at large.

        I’m not running for anything, and if so-called open-minded people want to shut down discussion around here in favor of PC, that’s too bad.

        I understand Black America’s relationship with Barack and am far from condemning it. What I’m saying is that the Democratic Party has been the beneficiary over the past 4 years, but the end is in sight. Barack will be gone, the old lions of the Civil Rights Movement like John Lewis are slowly fading into the sunset, and there is not much in the next generation to take their place.

        Barack was it.


        • That you can’t see how the white guy explaining what the black voters mean, and emphasizing how it’s all right by that white guy, just doesn’t work outside the confines of white conservatism…that’s the problem.

          If you don’t think young blacks are still overwhelmingly Democratic, you really should meet more of them. I sometimes have to play the role of defender of conservativism in my classroom because the visceral dislike of conservatives by black students is so strong it threatens to shut down debate. I’ve had a black female student ask, “Why do conservatives hate black people?” (To which I explained that they don’t.).

          I can see a change in the future, and your point about the old lions passing away is accurate, but it won’t be this generation.


          • You don’t know anything about me and my experience; it’s not necessary to delegitimize it where principled and civil disagreement will suffice. As for all the black kids at a white liberal arts college [under 4% at yours, says google]. well, let’s not overplay that either. It’s the same background as Barack Obama’s, and I would fully expect your charges to be steeped in attitudes like his.

            My point is that things will change as the pendulum swings back. The Congressional Black Caucus is virtually without influence and will grow even less so with the fading of the old lions.


            Nowhere to go but up, I guess. That’s a good thing.


            • My black students have the same background as Obama? You can seriously claim to know that in the same comment in which you emphasize that I don’t know you and your experience? You actually think you know what my students’ background is?

              Tell me. Do, please, impart your knowledge about my students. This is just so precious. Please, please, pleassssssseeee.


              • James, Tom is just exercising his long established right as a White Male (aka, Real American!) to speak for others – blacks, women, sometimes hispanics, the poor – and then get defensive when others speak for him. It’s pretty simple, really.


                • Frankly, I found this particular comment of his really offensive. It really is pure white privilege, that from 2000 miles away, without ever having met them he can tell us about the background of black students.

                  Tom doesn’t harbor antipathy toward black people. I have no doubt on that score. But he is incapable of recognizing the degree to which his condescending attitude of white privilege is its own kind of racism.

                  He’s already defined my students. He already understands them. He sure as hell wouldn’t even need to actually let them plain themselves to him. They’re just generic blacks to be plugged into his model, not individuals.

                  He should fucking come out here. He’ll have lots of time now that he’ll be on welfare. We’ll put him up in our college’s guest house. Maybe I can even cadge some funds to cover his flight. And he can give a talk to our black students about how they’re just gonna love them some Republicans once they get over their Barack fetish.


          • That you can’t see how the white guy explaining what the black voters mean, and emphasizing how it’s all right by that white guy, just doesn’t work outside the confines of white conservatism…that’s the problem.

            They explain their views in English, and quite often, and at great length. If you think they don’t have the ability to clearly express themselves in a way any English speaker, even conservative ones, can understand, perhaps you should explain the shortcomings in their communications skills, because we don’t really see it and would like to be enlightened.


            • George, as a conservative, has his blind spots, and you really shouldn’t expect much from him in the way of insight, self-knowledge, or basic human decency. But, honestly, it’s not his fault, and the last thing you should do is judge him for that.


            • They explain their views in English, and quite often, and at great length.

              Who? Black people? And your criticism is that you can’t understand what they’re saying? What are you even saying here? From where I’m sitting, it’s definitely not a challenge to anything James wrote.


            • No, what you’ve got is a person group) who says, “I think A!” where A is explained in a forty minute monologue, Tom says, “I understand that you think A.” and the retort is “You can’t possibly understand what I think!”

              At that point you know you’re going to spend the rest of the evening not watching football.


              • That reverses things. Completely. Tom was telling James that he knows why black people do what they do, feel what they feel, think what they think, act like they act. He knows black people better than they know themselves!

                Which is an astounding thing for a white guy, dontcha think? Personally, I’d chaulk it up to viewing reality thru this thin, almost unnoticeable, gauze of privilege.

                Why do white people insist on thinking they know what the “black experience” is? It’s a contradiction in terms.


        • Actually, I’m going to stand up for Tom here.

          But I doubt he’ll like it.

          Because I think Obama has been very careful about his efforts on behalf of the black community; careful to not snow favoritism. He’s been pretty careful to not get too persnickety, and be perceived ‘an angry black man.’ Obama’s been a living figurehead, but has not reached out to this cohort of voters in ways that singled them out from other voting cohorts. He didn’t shower them with favors.

          Instead, he tried to be everybody’s president, just like he said he would.

          Now let’s consider Romney. Do you think he’d a done the same? Or would he have done special favors for his primary cohort — really, really rich people?

          Yes, Tom. Unemployment is really high among blacks. Latinos, too. And I hope that’s a political debt Obama feels obliged to settle up.


          • I hope he does, zic. I don’t close the door on Barack reforming his leadership style. Anything but more of the same.

            My far left boss is ranting at the moment, as all his stocks go to hell and between the California’s tax-the-rich Prop 30 passing and him in the bullseye of the “fiscal cliff,” well, that’s what he gets for not knowing anything about politics.

            Hey, I’m a neo-liberal, not too far from Clinton, but before we redistribute the wealth, we have to create it.


            • Lot of people feel that way; most particularly those who feel the bite of the AMT. Those folks feel, hey, I’m here, creating jobs. . . And they are, for the most part, correct here — they carry the outsized burden of the tax load as a % of income. It’s that second income quintile.

              And they got jack shit to do with the wealthy. The ones who really do not pay their fair share of the burden. They imagine themselves wealthy because they’re well off. that’s why Romney though $250,000/year was ‘middle class.’

              No, wealth creation these days is an all together different kettle of fish.

              If you want to be wealth, you’ve got to start with an excess of $350,000 that you can just play with. And you become an angel investor. Or you get lucky and start a company that attracts some angel investment, preferably from someone with the experience to actually help your business with more then just an infusion of cash.

              The really wealthy? They move money around the world in some bizarre game of battleship. The leverage up an empire, and then some other wealthy person comes along and torpedos it.


              • At this particular moment, I’m equally poised between grumbling about my tax burden and going on Food Stamps. Could go one way or the other.

                Really. And as for “the rich,” what the other guy has is of no interest to me. i don’t think it makes me poorer.

                But there is a bit of a giggle listing to my ultra-left boss at that moment. This is the guy who framed his robo-autographed letter from Bill Clinton.


                • So you pretty much have no idea what I’m talking about.

                  There are a lot of people who dream of being wealthy in this country, who have not idea how one goes about getting wealthy. But just in case, they don’t want to raise taxes on the wealthy, because, but for they grace of god, there go they.

                  I advice betting on the lottery, Tom. Maybe striking it lucky in Reno. You’re likely to have more success. The horses don’t really pay out much, anymore.


        • “I have a strong interest in Black History, have spent much time on in and in correspondence on it. ”

          I hang around with the girls from Women’s Lib classes cuz those chicks are hot.

          Also, too, some of my best friends are black!


            • Not attacking you as a person, because, as you say, I don’t know you as a person — just Some Dude With Freakishly Large Sunglasses.

              I responding to your rather silly comment — you took a couple of Black History classes, so that makes you an expert. You and I, as white pebbles, will never really know what it means to be black.


              • Actually, I studied black history on my own and corresponded with many knowledgeable people about it, Jeff. And other things. And now, I’ve had my fill of this, I’m sure you understand. See you next time, and thanks to those who found my take interesting enough to discuss or at least entertain. I see no reason for us to spend our time here exchanging conventional wisdoms.


                • I’m a white guy (as you’ve probably guessed), but I spent last night, as I did election night 2008, watching TV in bed with a black woman (the same one from 2008), this year catching up on Dexter and hanging out on black Twitter (yeah, it’s a thing: I recommend starting here and working your way in). Despite the fact that I basically spent the election night in “the black world,” as an outsider, I’m still pretty damn sure I can’t say I understand black people. But certain things are pretty easy to figure out. My girlfriend, only one black person, voted for Hillary in the ’08 primary, and while she voted for Obama in the general that year, didn’t really become a supporter until recently. But I suspect that she’d have voted for Kang or Kodos over Romney, if the Democrats had nominated one of them (and if natives of Rigel IV were eligible for the presidency), as I suspect many, many, many black people would have. Now, in ’08, my girlfriend cried when the election was called, because she’d been told her entire life that she’d never see a black president, and she believed it literally up to the moment his election was certain. Would she have been as excited, and proud, about another Democratic candidate? Probably not. But she’d still have voted for him or her. Again, as I suspect the vast majority of black people would have.

                  Why? The Republicans have a race problem, even if they don’t feel like it’s deserved. They also have a women problem, again, even if they feel like it’s not deserved. And they have a youth problem. And a gay problem. And a secularist problem. And a bunch of other problems that result in, and perhaps from, a fairly narrow coalition (white, mostly male, older, and Protestant… they lost the friggin’ Catholic vote… and diverse only economically). A narrow coalition won’t get you far. In fact, it will mostly get your resentment from the outside and bitterness and victimhood from within.

                  It seems to me that in your effort to understand black people, which appears to have led you down a garden path, you’ve completely lost any perspective on yourself, and if you want to understand why black people don’t vote for your candidates, self-understanding is the best place to start. If nothing else, it will keep you from suggesting that black people (and perhaps other minorities) only elected Obama because he’s black (or even more condescendingly, as you’ve expressed it, because they didn’t want to vote out a black president). It might even help you to see why, even if you ultimately conclude it’s unfair, the perception of your party and your political worldview among black people, and Hispanics, and women, and gays, and many other groups (Catholics! for Christ’s sake, even if only by a small margin) makes it difficult to vote for them. And maybe, just maybe, you can start trying to fix that.

                  I honestly hope you do. I think you’re somewhat right about the “eggs in one basket,” but the problem is, for many groups, particularly those who are disadvantaged in some way, there is only one basket in which placing one’s eggs might result in some sort of return.

                  And again: Why?


                  • One thing TVD is missing here. The very fact that the Dems are the only party to have bad a black president will continue to connect black voters to the Democratic Party. The only question is what happens to the black turnout when the nominee is white again. It wouldn’t be surprising for it to decline. But the idea that those voters will shift away from the party to the GOP is just a comforting fantasy.


            • You don’t know me.

              This might be cheap, and all too easy … but you didn’t mind violating the “you don’t know me” principle when you were making blanket statements about college students based on their skin color.


        • I’m sure you believe that you’re only explaining, but you might consider that it’s coming off in much same way as when men explain what women want and why they think/act/believe in certain ways.

          There is a reason that sort of thing tends to make women cringe.


        • Barack actually won’t be gone for a while. He’ll be a powerful validator for Democratic nominees to the black community for a long time to come. Clinton will for a while yet too. Not saying things will be the same voting-wise as the last two cycles, but neither do you know what they’ll reset to. Also, what’s in the next generation (or even the currently governing generation) is in the eye of the relevant beholder, which is the changing electorate, not you.


      • I am not sure if longterm exposure to Tom has just driven half of the LOOG into a frothing-at-the-mouth state where they are literally incapable of treating his comments charitably, or if the sweet glow of victory is driving the urge to twist the screws while the twisting is good, but I am disappointed by the inability to see what Tom is actually saying. Surely you can do better than this.

        All Tom is driving at, if I read him right, is that he thinks that changes in the political landscape (brought about in large part by Obama’s successful bid for re-election, along with the fading of the old guard in the Congressional Black Caucus), will result in the unmooring of the black vote from the Democratic party. I presume this would also require an attitude adjustment on the part of the GOP.

        Presumably Tom thinks this is a good thing. I can’t say that I disagree, and I am strongly wondering why everyone is attacking him for it.

        Unless there is some reason why a racial group only voting for a single part is a good thing.


          • I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again.

            I can’t wait till election season is far behind us.

            Maybe the conversation around here will stop being so vile.

            The personal attacks and above all the lack of intellectual charity on display are the opposite of what the LoOG is meant to be about. I know that if it had been thus when I had started to read, I would have had no inclination to keep reading, let alone to contribute.

            I would not have dared.


        • Mopey,

          TVD claimed the Dems are going to lose black voters as a solid constituency. I pointed out that his approach smacked of the kind of white privilege that turns away black voters. Others noted this as well. Then TVD noted that he–a white guy, to the best of my knowledge–was just explaining to us other white folks how black people think, which he points out is hard for white people to understand.

          So he’s our own personal guide, the white leading the white through the land of the black. (For the record, I spent election night ’08 with a mixed race crowd, and know personally just how much Obama’s victory meant to them. That wasa little more informative than ths.)

          Then he condescends–as a white guy–to explain black students he’s never met.

          And you ask for charitable ness? TVD long ago burned away any claim to being read charitably.


        • will result in the longed for, dreamed aboutunmooring of the black vote from the Democratic party.

          There. I think that’s what TVD’s argument amounted to. It’s a partisan fantasy not based in reality.

          Or this! It’s the recognition of a logical possibility, that conservatives love to grab onto (counterfactually, mind you!) to sustain the other fantasy they hold. That conservatism cannot fail.


    • “It’s easy for non-blacks to underestimate just how much Barack represents to American blacks.”

      I’m struggling to weigh in on the entirety of Tom’s comment (in part but not entirely because I didn’t click through the link), but I think this snippit is a salient one.

      I lived in Bethesda in ’08 and worked just across the DC border from Silver Spring. The day after the election, I ran to the Silver Spring grocery store to grab something. Once inside, I noticed a long line (as in, the length of an entire aisle and then some) of black folks, mostly older, waiting at the Customer Service desk. Ashamedly so, I thought there might have been some big hiring effort and these were folks in line for an interview or application. I asked someone what was up and was informed they were waiting for more copies of the newspaper to come in; they all wanted a copy commemorating our nation electing its first African-American president. “HOLY FUCKING SHIT!” I thought. I knew the moment was huge and historical but I really didn’t grasp just how much it meant to the black community, particularly older members who might have lived during a time when the idea of a black president wasn’t even a fantasy, it was a non-thought.

      I’m not really sure where Tom is going with this comment or the subsequent ones, as the thread has spun off down several rabbit holes. But, yes, what Obama means to the black community is something white people (myself included) will likely never understand.


    • This doesn’t entirely jibe, Tom.

      Some black people may have voted for Obama ’cause he’s black, and some white people may have voted for Obama out of white guilt, but…

      White people didn’t vote gay marriage into law because of Obama. They didn’t raise taxes in CA because of Obama. They didn’t vote for pot legalization because of Obama. Team Red took a drubbing last night… not a deep drubbing, mind you, but a broad one. Economic conservatism still has lifeblood, but social conservativism was clearly out yesterday.

      That might be an oscillation, but like Tod I expect that’s something closer to a demographic slide.


      • I don’t see the isolated victories you speak of as a trend, Pat. California in particular, which has been driving wealth away for decades now. It used to be the Golden State; now it can barely pick up our trash.

        And as a matter of fact, Obama did have an effect on the gay marriage vote, at least in MD. But another time–that’s a fascinating influence of politics and religion where it was politics that outstripped religion.

        I have no opinion: the info isn’t in yet, nor do I think anyone quite understands what just happened. Again, the end of a pendulum swing, or the base of a trend line, eh?


        • I don’t see the isolated victories you speak of as a trend, Pat.

          Well, of course you don’t. But you haven’t given any reason to think they aren’t!!!

          At this point, everyone at the LoOG knows you put partisanship above evidence and argument, Tom. So simply reasserting that you don’t agree with Patrick isn’t really comment worthy, is it?


    • You tell ’em, Tom. Sooner or later the blacks and hispanics will get that no one understands them better than the the middle-aged, middle class white man.

      Sadly, those crazy blacks won’t listen to their betters.


  4. I concur: “Because from where I sit, the clear message the public sent to Washington wasn’t that they wanted to be governed by Democrats. It was that they really, really don’t want to be governed by Republicans.”

    Still, the Democratic Party is not so coherent a party that all interests will remain aligned for any length of time. They may find that in the absence of a credible Republican Party, opportunities for realignment will emerge from within.


      • Agreed, but advice best given by members of that team; I’d caution against believing the demography as destiny triumphalism. Not because I think the Republicans will capitalize on it (they may or may not) but because it opens opportunities for parts of the democratic coalition to renegotiate their current arrangements is ways that might not fit the expected narrative.


      • Certainly. I merely observe that there are large segments of both parties that are held in place less by successful policy than team loyalty. Break that, and who knows what possibilities might open up.


  5. Because from where I sit, the clear message the public sent to Washington wasn’t that they wanted to be governed by Democrats. It was that they really, really don’t want to be governed by Republicans.

    I don’t think so. Look at the ballot measures. I think a country that decisively turned against Reagan’s War-on-Crime and War-on-Drugs policies, and towards support for same-sex marriage, is one that’s communicating that they’re genuinely closer to the Democrats (even if the Democrats are no great shakes on the first two of those issues, they’re ahead of the GOP) – and, beyond partisanship, that the country is more liberal than we believed

    Not only did the Dems win this election, in several different ways liberalism won it.


    • I agree with Katherine. I underestimated the widespread influence of modern liberal/progressive ideas. Young people voted something like 61% for Obama, and this might have been mostly pop culture-influenced, but that’s part and parcel of modern liberalism — the Left has captured pop culture completely, and their politics are simply a part of the culture, via Stewart and Colbert and Maher. I thought there was a significant opposition to modern liberalism and Big Governmentism, but I now see that either the opposition didn’t come out in force, or modern liberalism (superficially and sincerely) has passed the majority point.


        • I wouldn’t necessarily take support for more liberal social policies as endorsement of big government. You can also read support for decriminalization of pot and gay marriage as support for government staying out of people’s personal lives, a rejection of the conservative version of the nanny state. I don’t think it’s a rejection of genuine economic or fiscal conservatism which, to my mind, Romney did not represent any more than Obama.


        • MFarmer,
          I won’t be voting for the racists/social conservatives next time round.
          (It’s a losing strategy).
          But that doesn’t mean I won’t vote for a man with the brass to publically call for higher taxes for the middle class (and less of an imperial presidency).

          Bring out the popcorn, this next few years should be interesting.


      • “Young people voted something like 61% for Obama, and this might have been mostly pop culture-influenced, but that’s part and parcel of modern liberalism — the Left has captured pop culture completely, and their politics are simply a part of the culture, via Stewart and Colbert and Maher.”

        Yes, that makes perfect sense. Young people don’t vote D because they came of age while George W. was president or because they think that the GOP is full of gay-bashing troglodytes, they vote D because MTV tells them to. That’s not even slightly condescending.


    • I don’t think the voters clearly said anything, given that Obama’s support dropped by 9 million and Romney’s by 2.3 million, and how close the race actually was.

      There’s a quick little game I’ve run ever since Florida 2000, which asks “how many voters would have to have changed their vote to flip the outcome?” In a tight election, that’s usually determined by the margin in a few battleground states. In this election the answer (to flip OH, VA, and FL) was 0.12% of the population, which is one voter out of a “town” of 900 residents. If Tinyberg’s mayoral candidate Romney had flipped that one vote (Sue Ann down at the Piggly Wiggly), he’d be mayor instead of Obama, and we’d be having an entirely different discussion. The House and Senate hardly even changed, shifting only a few seats, so we could’ve skipped this whole election cycle and it wouldn’t have mattered. Nobody really likes the hand they’ve been dealt but everyone is standing pat.


      • And how many votes would it take to have made it a landslide? How many states could have tipped from Romney to Obama if .12% of folks voted differently?

        Coulda, shoulda, woulda doesn’t count for much…


      • In an actual landslide it takes enormous number of votes to tip it, I doubt you could flip the 1964 or 1972 elections without changing about 10% of the votes, about 50 times more than you’d have to change for the 2012 election. This election would’ve flipped at 0.12% of the population, or as I said, one person out of 900.

        It wasn’t nearly as close as Florida in 2000. If you recall, the amount of people in the nose-bleed seats at the DNC convention, perhaps just one side of the nose-bleed seats, are all it would’ve taken to hand that one to Gore.


  6. I want to +1 this, Tod, but how do you account for the House in this narrative? It’s hard to see the outcomes in the Senate as anything but a smackdown for the Republican party, but a public revolting at the GOP surely would have given a few seats to Democrats somewhere, right?


      • Here in North Carolina, where the Republicans won big in 2010, redistricting gave Republicans a huge advantage. The state sent 7 Democrats and 6 Republicans to the 112th Congress. After Tuesday’s election, I think only four Democrats will return. That’s not because party loyalties changed drastically over the past two years.


    • That being said: Walsh is out, Watts is out, Grayson is back in, California turned three formally safe GOP seats blue, Bachmann barely held on, and GOP rising star Mia Love could not unseat Matheson despite being a Republican running in Utah during a Presidential election year.


    • Exactly. And in the Senate, Akin slipped through the net, and Mourdock made the mistake of putting a private religious view out there for public consumption.

      That God’s ways are mysterious and that a pregnancy resulting from rape would be part of His Plan is a perfectly reasonable providential belief. However, in a country where even the majority of self-described pro-lifers favors the “rape exception” is a vindication of what our Mr. Murali/Rawls demands as the language of “public reason.”

      Dude screwed up. As for Akin, it was a wives’ tale he’d heard somewhere long ago, and Missouri decided they’d rather have the crook McCaskill than a shaman, not unreasonably. Otherwise, the GOP picks up those seats.

      So the message of the election is this: When you come to a fork in the road, don’t.


    • I think it’s far easier to be out of touch with the national mainstream and win the House than the Senate or the Presidency. It’s why whenever you see Bachmanns and Kuciniches you can almost guarantee they’re in the house.


  7. ” Republicans in that conservative state…chose to nominate Todd Akin…”

    It’s worth pointing out that Akin didn’t make his remarks about rape until after he was nominated, and that he refused to step down despite every Republican in the universe yelling for him to quit.


        • I left Missouri two years ago, but I still get the news & NPR from STL (NPR in Springfield plays classical music instead of programming through the day).

          Akin was a solid conservative Congressman from a St. Louis metro district. I think all of the St. Louis districts are R now that Russ Carnahan’s seat was lost in redistricting (Carnahan would have kept the seat even if he ran on the “I plan to steal from you!” platform due to nothing other than his name).
          McCaskill is from Kansas City. So, you have the old east-west rivalry going on in the state.
          Akin likely had the edge pre-comment. The calls to step down afterward didn’t help him too much.
          McCaskill isn’t what you would call a very liberal democrat. Every office she ever held was always ridden with scandal, beginning with the KC prosecutor’s office.
          But the same with Kay Bailey Hutchinson. People keep electing her, and I really don’t understand why.

          Missouri has one good Senator anyway. I really like Blount; more so than either one from Illinois.
          Illinois is notably different in this: Out in the county, political party just doesn’t matter below the national level the way that it does in Missouri.
          Illinois has some terrible problems, but I wouldn’t say that they are worse than Missouri– just a different set of problems.


    • I’d agree. That the GOP nominated two idiots like Akin and Mourdock [1] is largely an accident. That being that sort of idiot is now politically radioactive is real, and very welcome.

      1. I share James H’s regard for Lugar, but’s he’s 80 years old and six terms in. His is not a career tragically cut short.


      • Mike,
        No, it damn well ain’t an accident! It’s the Tea Partiers insisting, again and again, that they can run people without vetting them!!

        I can name one putz on the Democratic side, and this is out of all the fucking congress, who was loony — in the past three election cycles (started to molest his congressional staff, that sort of shit).

        At least five idiots, mostly at the Senatorial level, in the past three elections? The mind, it Boggles… (Allen, Odonnell, Whoever ran against Reid, Akin and Mourdock).


  8. It seems apparent to me that if the GOP stays on it’s current tack they won’t be winning many national elections in the not-to-distant future. So, I am curious as to where everyone here thinks the Republicans go from here. I have some ideas of my own but I am curious as to what the community here thinks.


    • I really don’t know. Boehner seems to have grasped the obvious and may be willing to work with Dems. McConnell not so much. We could see a major fracture of the GOP, based on House vs Senate Republicans.

      If Reid carries through with his threat/promise to abolish the filibuster, The Senate Republicans are going to go all the more bi-partisan (and not just Joe LIEberman).


    • I’m predicting a crack-up. Three parties for a while.
      Everybody hates the racist/socons, and the racists/socons hate everybody else, too.
      Ya can’t make a party if half of it won’t show up.


  9. Because from where I sit, the clear message the public sent to Washington wasn’t that they wanted to be governed by Democrats. It was that they really, really don’t want to be governed by Republicans.

    As many have noted over the years, polls suggest that the American public wants the Democrats’ policies with a Republican executive doing the administration. Lean, mean implementation good; lean, mean policies bad.


  10. I earnestly hope that A) Obama and the Dems don’t try and over reach this and B) the GOP and especially the House GOP clue in and realize they’re not going to get anything but woe out of continuing their old strategy.*

    Some sort of deal on taxes, some short term spending increases and some big mid and long term spending cuts would really help things along.

    *And if the GOP does continue their obstruction strategy I hope Obama lets everything expire, passes a small middle class tax cut and dares them to refuse it.


  11. Tod,
    In general, I think you’re correct in this post. As much as it annoys me, the American populace that votes is moving to the left, away from self-sufficiency and independence, and more towards dependence upon the state. The Repubs will need to move left and get on board with some of this if they are to remain viable because it doesn’t look like this trend will be reversed anytime soon.

    I do have one quibble. A quick google search gave me a stat of 57.5% of voters voting this week. Mandate? Please.


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