It’s All Over but the Shouting

Tim Bean

11/7/2012

 

So there we have it, the “most important election” in my lifetime is now over, and President Obama has won a second term.  As I was watching the election results last night, it was interesting to see and hear the various pundits and prognosticators scramble to come up with new and different scenarios that could lead to a Mitt Romney victory; even as it became increasingly apparent that such a victory was not going to happen.  I remember watching a portion of the Fox News coverage at around 8 or 9 EST, as the realization that Mitt was not going to win set in, and there was an air of disbelief and even a hint of denial in their voices as they continued to cover the results.  It eventually became so bad, bordering on pathetic, that I had to change the channel to CNN’s coverage, and finally closed out the night by watching the Daily Show’s and the Colbert Report’s live election coverage.  Regardless of the channel though, the results were/are the same; President Obama won, and when the dust settles in Florida, I believe that state too will turn blue on all of the news networks touch screens.

The Presidential race was obviously not the only election going on.  There were Senate and House seats up for grabs too, as well as the many state and local elections too.  The GOP was able to retain control of the house, the Dems have an ever so slight majority in the Senate, and it looks as though the status quo reigned supreme; and gridlock has a very good chance to continue in Washington D.C.

In three states (Maine, Washington state, and Maryland) measures to recognize and legalize gay marriage passed, joining 6 other states and the District of Columbia in that recognition.  Two states legalized the use of marijuana for recreational purposes, those being the state of Washington, and Colorado; a similar measure failed to win voter approval in Oregon.  Personally, as a libertarian, I see both of these measures gaining ground and winning voter approval, as a step in the right direction in the advancement of the ideals of libertarianism; and I say that as someone who does not smoke pot, and is not gay.  It is still very important to point out that the federal government does not recognize gay marriage, and marijuana is still federally illegal; meaning that Gay couples getting married in those states which recognize such unions still don’t get all of the federal rights and benefits that heterosexual couples get; and just because the state of Washington and Colorado legalized marijuana the federal government can and more than likely will arrest you, and put you in a federal penitentiary if they catch you buying, possessing, and using that drug.

Going back to the Presidential election, what do I think all of this means?  Well, I quite honestly believe that the GOP is in serious trouble.  I have said that I think that the Republican Party is a dinosaur heading for extinction, and my reasons are fairly simple.  First of all I think it is becoming increasingly apparent that the Republican Party’s rather narrow minded stances on social issues does nothing to attract younger voters, and turns off many other people who are more of the live and let live mindset.  Legalizing gay marriage will not magically turn everyone gay; and no one will force you into a gay relationship either.  Instead the status quo (federally speaking) simply denies people of many rights (about 1000) and hinders them in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness – which is still a part of our Declaration of Independence.  As long as the GOP remains so intolerant on this subject they can count much of the LGBT community, as well as many other people who have more tolerant views, out when it comes to voting for Republican candidates.

Then there is the GOP’s rather hawkish view on immigration, which does little to nothing in attracting much of the Hispanic vote.  Building a wall around our country is not the answer, nor is threatening mass deportations, or some form of profiling, or whatever other particularly draconian measure they can dream up.  Many Republicans will argue that we need such extreme measures to get a handle on the increasingly violent drug crimes and trafficking along our southern borders.  Simply decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level would take a lot of the air and money out of the illegal drug trade; which would lower the border violence, and actually reduce the overall crime and incarceration rate across this country – we have more people in jail than any other country in the world, including China; much of those inmates are there for simple drug crimes, like possession; this is not something to be proud of.

The GOP basically suffers from a serious image problem.  In the eyes of many people, it is seen as the all-white, rich, old peoples’ party.  It will not win another Presidency as long as this image continues to fester and grow amongst people.  Our country has been, and is continuing to become more diverse, and there is a no so small percentage of young Americans who are far more open minded and accepting of diverse ideas, views, and opinions, and people.  As long as the GOP is seen as a bunch of snobbish, non-inclusive, intolerant old white folks, it is destined for the political scrap heap alongside the Whig, Bull Moose, Greenback, and Reform parties.  Following the Republican Party’s antics towards its own delegates in Tampa, I really don’t see them changing their image, or behavior, anytime soon.  I know the Democrats had a very similar dismissal of their delegates’ wishes too, and I am not excusing them.  Two wrongs don’t make a right, and neither should be seen as anything but an unacceptable way to treat members of their parties.

Today much of Fox News’ post-election discussion has centered on how and where the Republican Party goes and does following another lackluster bid for the White House.  There are some on that network that claim that what the GOP needs is an even more conservative candidate; that Mitt Romney just wasn’t conservative enough – which is what many Republican pundits declared all through that party’s primaries.  I say that if this is the route that this party chooses to go, it will not meet more success; it will only hasten its demise.

That network is also clinging to the idea that this election highlighted a growing split in the political ideology in this country; that split being between those who want more and bigger government (socialism) and those who want smaller government (federal republic).  While I am sure that there are many who fall in either of those categories, I do not wholly believe this argument.  I believe that given the sub 50% favorability levels for both Obama and Romney during this campaign showed that most people simply chose the lesser of two evils when they stepped into the voting booth.  Apparently most people think President Obama is the lesser of two evils.  Given the above referenced image problem that the GOP has, and that party’s rather intolerant stance on many social issues, it should not really come as a huge surprise that many people thought of Obama as the lesser of two evils.

Finally, there have been some Republicans who are leveling a measure of angst and blame at Libertarian Party Presidential candidate Gary Johnson for costing Mitt Romney this election.  Okay, look, to quote Herm Edward’s infamous rant, “You play to win the game!”  It was not Gary Johnson’s job to get Mitt Romney elected; he was running for himself to be President.  It was Mitt Romney’s job to win the Presidency, meaning that he had to be able to beat ALL candidates; including Gary Johnson.  Some will then decide to blame those who chose to vote for Johnson for costing Romney the election.  I will say this again, it is the candidates’ job to convince voters that they deserve their vote; and Romney failed to do so in large enough numbers to win.  I will also say that those who chose to vote for any of the 3rd party candidates did so because (1) they didn’t like either Romney or Obama, and (2) those were the candidates whom they most identified with.  In essence they chose to vote for something and someone they believed; rather than choosing to use their vote against someone or something and choose whichever guy was the lesser of two evils in their eyes.

So after a gazillion dollars spent during this election year, by both parties, we essentially end right where we started, with President Obama in the White House, a Democratically controlled Senate, and a Republican Controlled House.  Money well spent for more gridlock huh?

 

A loser doesn’t know what he’ll do if he loses, but talks about what he’ll do if he wins, and a winner doesn’t talk about what he’ll do if he wins, but knows what he’ll do if he loses. (Unkown)

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