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

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Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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129 Responses

  1. Avatar Snarky McSnarksnark says:

    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.Report

  2. Avatar ktward says:

    [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.Report

  3. Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

    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.

    http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/how-barack-obama-became-president-harold-washington.html

    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.Report

    • Avatar DRS says:

      Wow. Unbelievable. Just…wow.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      “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.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        I think he is talking about Toni Morrison’s claim that Bill Clinton was “the first black President”Report

        • I always thought Bill Clinton was the Elvis Presley of Presidents.

          It’s the voters, stupid.Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP says:

            Elvis Presley was a white dude singing black music. Bill Clinton remains an amazingly adept politician and Barack Obama is in his debt for all the hard work Bill put in on his behalf this go-round.Report

            • Avatar Michelle says:

              Absolutely. Bill’s seal of approval and tireless stumping for Obama, despite the previous bad blood between the two of them, was a big factor in getting people sitting on the edge to go Obama.Report

              • I agree, but the Clinton Presley analogy still applies. Bill’s skin may be white, but his soul is black, and that’s what counts. If you were alert you would have noticed Obama’s campaign speech a few days before the election. I think a saw a snippet of it on Sharpton MSNBC. He certainly missed his calling. When he retires in four years he should become what he really is – a Baptist preacher.Report

              • Avatar Michelle says:

                My mother, who hates him, thinks he sounds like a preacher. I don’t doubt that some of his oratorical skill set emerges out of the black church.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley says:

      And for the win, TVD provides a perfect illustration of Tod’s argument.

      That’s just double-space awesome with extra chocolate sauce.Report

    • Avatar Katherine says:

      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.Report

      • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

        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.Report

        • Avatar NewDealer says:

          You understand absolutely nothing. Nothing.Report

        • Avatar James Hanley says:

          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.Report

          • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

            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.

            http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/09/24/why-don-t-black-leaders-demand-more-of-the-president.html

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

            • Avatar James Hanley says:

              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.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                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.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                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.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                But he is incapable of recognizing the degree to which his condescending attitude of white privilege is its own kind of racism.

                Well put.Report

          • Avatar George Turner says:

            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.Report

            • Avatar MikeSchilling says:

              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.Report

            • Avatar Stillwater says:

              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.Report

            • Avatar James Hanley says:

              Dude, it’s TVD who told us how hard they understand and promised to translate their obscure meanings for us. Take up your criticism of the racism inherent in that with the guy who’s peddling it.Report

            • Avatar George Turner says:

              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.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                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.Report

        • Avatar zic says:

          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.Report

          • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

            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.Report

            • Avatar zic says:

              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.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                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.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                G Po on food stamps. At this point I have a hard time imagining you doing anything productiv for society anyway.

                Or maybe you can get hired at UCLA as the great white anthropologist of the American black experience.Report

              • Avatar zic says:

                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.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                $6 million dollars is what a really wealthy person has got. then they’re self-sustaining.
                $60 million is too damn much money.Report

        • Avatar LWA (Lib With Attitude) says:

          Tom’s comment is the conservative version of “What’s The Matter With Compton?”

          Why won’t those welfare moochers get off the Democrat plantation and vote for us?Report

        • Avatar Jeff No-Last-Name says:

          “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!Report

          • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

            That wasn’t necessary, Jeff. I don’t mind defending my ideas, but it shouldn’t be necessary to defend myself as a person as well. You don’t know me.Report

            • Avatar Jeff No-Last-Name says:

              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.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

                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.Report

              • Avatar Chris says:

                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?Report

              • Avatar James Hanley says:

                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.Report

            • Avatar Stillwater says:

              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.Report

        • Avatar bookdragon says:

          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.Report

        • Avatar Michael Drew says:

          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.Report

      • Avatar Mopey Duns says:

        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.Report

        • Avatar Glyph says:

          Forget it Mopey, it’s the LoOG.Report

          • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

            Cheers, you guys, and thanks. I’ve had my say and now I need to start watching more sports. Peace, out.Report

          • Avatar Mopey Duns says:

            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.Report

        • Avatar James Hanley says:

          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.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater says:

          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.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      “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.Report

      • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

        Thank you, Kazzy. Yes, it’s far more than politics. My point is that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with Compton, or with Kansas, for that matter.

        But as for Compton, I think Barack Obama was a particular alignment of person, time and place that may have delayed a necessary realignment–or in the least, a return to the days when the smart call was for black America to have friends on both sides of the aisle, not just one.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

      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.Report

      • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

        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.

        http://articles.nydailynews.com/2012-09-17/news/33907012_1_black-pastors-gay-marriage-senior-pastor

        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?Report

        • Avatar Stillwater says:

          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?Report

          • Avatar James Hanley says:

            I love that isolated victories bit. Over the past decade one state after another has been decriminalizing pot and/or legalizing medical marijuana. Now two states have taken a further step and legalized recreational marijuana. But, no, there’s no trend there. Just isolated victories all moving in the same general direction.

            Same with SSM. First a state legalized it judicially and a whole bunch of states responded legislatively and through popular vote to ban it. Then a couple states allowed domestic partnerships or civil unions, legislatively or through popular vote. then some allowed SSM through legislative action. Now three states allow it through popular vote. But no trend here, just isolated victories all moving in the same direction.

            The forces of denial are strong.

            OPRI.Report

    • Avatar Morat20 says:

      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.Report

  4. Avatar Marchmaine says:

    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.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      Agreed, and (I don’t know of you made this comment before I added my update above) the Dems could facilitate that by assuming greater popularity than I think they have.Report

      • Avatar Marchmaine says:

        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.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      Still, the Democratic Party is not so coherent a party that all interests will remain aligned for any length of time.

      This is the case for any political party, isn’t it?Report

      • Avatar Marchmaine says:

        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.Report

  5. Avatar Katherine says:

    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.Report

    • Avatar zic says:

      Thank you. I’m zic, and I approve this comment.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer says:

      A plus!Report

    • Avatar MFarmer says:

      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.Report

      • Avatar MFarmer says:

        I feel more like a minority, opposition voice than ever.Report

        • Avatar Michelle says:

          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.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          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.Report

      • Avatar Jeff No-Last-Name says:

        Gay Rights are so damn statist!

        Dumbass, the libs voted to allow marijuana use in 3 or 4 more states. Yeah, Big Goverment is a liberal deal.

        A**hole.Report

      • Avatar Don Zeko says:

        “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.Report

    • Avatar George Turner says:

      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.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        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…Report

      • Avatar George Turner says:

        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.Report

  6. Avatar Plinko says:

    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?Report

    • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

      Gerrymandering, pork, and tenure probably saved 10 to 15 House Republican’s.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer says:

      Gerrymandering largely. The House is not very competitive for both sides.Report

      • Avatar Michelle says:

        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.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer says:

      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.Report

    • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

      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.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley says:

      Dems picked up both NH house seats from Republican incumbents.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      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.Report

  7. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    ” 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.Report

    • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

      This is true. It’s my experience, however, that politicians that make casual comments like that on camera aren’t going too far from their normal wheelhouse.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        Actually, do we have anyone here from MO that can speak to this?Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          Not from MO, but this was the creep who was advocating a marital exemption from rape, last I checked (when he was in the statehouse, and well before the election)Report

        • Avatar Will H. says:

          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.Report

    • Avatar MikeSchilling says:

      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.Report

      • Avatar Michelle says:

        Yeah. It was time for Lugar to retire.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        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).Report

    • Avatar Jeff No-Last-Name says:

      And when he didn’t, they came flocking back. There was no cost to him from the GOP. None.Report

  8. Avatar JasonC says:

    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.Report

    • Avatar Jeff No-Last-Name says:

      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).Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      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.Report

  9. Avatar Michael Cain says:

    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.Report

  10. Avatar North says:

    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.Report

  11. Avatar Rose says:

    I didn’t have time to read the comments. But this post was just spot on.Report

  12. Avatar Damon says:

    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.Report