It is always productive after a major event like an election to “debrief” the results, a useful exercise for both winners and, especially, losers. Despite its closeness, this election was transformative in several critical respects.
It is always productive after a major event like an election to “debrief” the results, a useful exercise for both winners and, especially, losers. Despite its closeness, this election was transformative in several critical respects. As the late Washington Redskins coach and father of Virginia’s losing Senate candidate, George Allen, used to say: “The future is now.”
The shrinking Republican pup tent won’t work anymore. Due to its narrowing, the Democrats are in a great position to win future presidential (and probably also senatorial) elections. The GOP needs to plan for a very different demographic future if it is to avoid permanent minority status. The Republicans have to replace the Southern Strategy that served them so well for a generation. Old white men are not a good bet for a future, winning core constituency. They tend to “attrit” over time. Most importantly, the Party has to recognize that the country is increasingly diverse. Lily white images at every Republican rally and convention don’t play well on TV.
The GOP needs to shed itself of racial innuendo and code words (e.g., The President is “lazy” — per John Sununu; frequent, insulting utterances that spew forth from Newt Gingrich) that are offensive to minorities and not likely to win many black or brown votes. This tactic will never win a future presidential election. You cannot get to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue if you automatically concede 95 percent of the Black vote and 80 percent of Latino voters.
Republicans also cannot afford to allow the gender gap to continue. They must acknowledge that both women’s health and pay and job promotional equity are core concerns, not side issues.
Republicans must recognize that restricting rights and contracting liberties — whether voting, sexual orientation, a path to legal immigration — means battling the slow but inexorable tides of history, which are all about inclusion and the expansion of rights, not their retrenchment. This is a watershed moment for the Party if it wants to be on the right side of history, which is coincident with the side that wins votes.
The GOP needs to nominate congressional candidates who are in touch with reality instead of people like a Richard Mourdock in Indiana or a Todd Akin in Missouri, both of whom could have used a basic high school biology course. These were Senate races that Democrats had once virtually conceded.
Both Party leaders and followers need to tune in to media that are more than just “affirmation stations” like Fox News. Fox, via Karl Rove for example, absurdly clung to its delusional notion that, somehow, the networks’ (Fox included) call of Ohio for Obama was premature because of outstanding votes from Republican areas, which was ridiculous — the overwhelming majority of outstanding votes resided in heavily Democratic counties, and Rove and the other Fox commentators knew that. Nevertheless, they perpetrated this silliness almost up to the minute that Mitt Romney stepped before his supporters to deliver his concession speech.
Page 2 of 2 - Republicans should analyze why their standard bearer lost his home state (Massachusetts) by a landslide, as well as the other two states where he resides some portion of each year (New Hampshire and California). His running mate also lost his home state (Wisconsin). Even Paul Ryan’s hometown, Janesville, went for Obama. Ryan’s reputation as the intellectual leader of the Republican Party did the ticket no good whatsoever. Ryan was a step up from Sarah Palin, when what the Party needed was a ladder.
Finally, the GOP needs to realize that, yes Virginia (and Ohio and Michigan and Sandy-decimated areas), there is a place for government in our lives.
We may be a polarized nation, but when all the bloviation is silenced, we are a moderate country. It behooves politicians of both parties to keep that in mind at all times.
“Rants” is a series of political and social observations written by part-time Canandaigua resident and Canandaigua Academy graduate Richard Hermann. Email him care of Messenger Post Media at email@example.com.