I see how some Republicans are spinning the election thusly: Voters didn’t support what Obama believes in more than what Romney believes [sic] in. The only reason Obama won is because he won a better campaign. Ergo, Obama doesn’t have a mandate to do anything.
Like Texas senator John Cornyn, rejecting Obama’s call for higher taxes on the rich:
“The president is over-reading his mandate. He ran a better campaign than Mitt Romney. That’s the only mandate,” Cornyn said.
Or conservative columnist John Podhoretz, writing that…
Romney didn’t say… that the election had come out as it did because Obama’s team had outplayed and outfoxed his. He should have, because that’s the truth.
Have these people learned nothing from the election?
Yes, Obama was a better candidate, though I don’t think he ran a great campaign, except perhaps from a get-out-the-vote perspective. But he won because people like him more, trust him more, and agree with him more. And Obama said again and again during the campaign, “I will raise taxes on people making more than $250, 000.” When you do that and you win, your political opponents can’t just pretend that it didn’t happen. Or, rather, they can—because that’s exactly what they’re doing—but a) you’re defying the will of the people, b) contributing to the logjam in Washington, c) hurting the country, and d) dooming your party to increasing irrelevance. Take your medicine, boys—it won’t taste good, but the sooner you get it out of the way, the faster you can leave that taste behind.
I watch their criticism of Susan Rice over the Bengazi matter and two things strike me. One: Nobody gives a damn about the Bengazi thing except for Republican politicians and the conservative media bubble. Real Americans do not sense a conspiracy, nor do they particularly care. They want Washington to fix the economy and deal with the fiscal cliff–and frankly, it’s probably generous to say that more than 5% of Americans even know what the fiscal cliff involves. (Just like it’d be generous to say that more than 5% of the anti-Obamacare types had the slightest clue what Obamacare is.)
And two: In an election where—let’s set aside Hispanics and gays for the moment—you lost virtually every African-American voter and a solid majority of female voters, is the first thing you want to do afterward start beating up a black woman? I mean, think about this, Lynsey Graham, senator from South Carolina.
Which brings me to another election spin you hear from the Republicans: That, yes, maybe they should consider reconsidering their positions on immigration in order to appeal to Latino voters. It’s Latino, Latino, Latino all the way.
And, yes, to a lesser degree you hear Republicans talking about how they should stop talking about rape. I don’t think that suggests a fundamental reconsideration of attitudes toward’s women’s rights so much as a STFU-before-you-hurt-us-again kind of attitude, but, well, maybe that’s a start.
But what you don’t hear is anyone saying, hey, we really need to reach out to more African-American voters. I challenge you to find one Republican saying, We need to reach out to blacks to win more of their votes.
Perhaps because Republicans feel that blacks are simply too allied with the Democratic party…but I doubt it. All votes are up for grabs if a political party addresses a constituency’s concerns.
Perhaps it’s because Republicans don’t see the black vote as as important as the Latino vote, thinking that it’s a static population. But…I doubt that too. Because the black vote is really important. The number of black voters increased substantially from 2008-2012—despite GOP efforts to keep blacks from voting (or maybe because of)—and their votes made a huge difference. In Ohio, the African-American percentage of the vote went from 11 percent in 2008 to 15 percent in 2012—a four point difference which, given that that’s about the margin by which Obama won Ohio, means that blacks basically won him the state. So wouldn’t you think that Republicans would care about courting African-American voters?
But they don’t, and they won’t. Why not? I think the reason is that the anti-Obama extremism of the GOP has become fused with racism. My hunch is that, at the end of the day–as they say in Washington—Republicans don’t really want blacks in their party, because they just don’t like ‘em very much. This is why they’d rather try to disenfranchise black voters than try to win their support. And this is why you hear talk of secession, of voter fraud, and a continued refusal to acknowledge the fact that, for the second time in four years, a black man kicked their butts and won a mandate.
As a guy who grew up with moderate Republicans like Lowell Weicker and Stewart McKinney, I hate to see this. It’s not just bad for the Republican Party; it’s bad for the country.