Well, all that sound and fury and money for more than a year and we wind up more or less where we were before the election. Barack Obama is still president. The Democrats tightened their grip on the Senate. And the Republicans retain control of the House. What, if anything, did we learn?
|Democrats celebrate victory|
Republicans should accept that Mitt Romney only began to tighten the race when he realized this trend and moved decisively to the center away from the rejectionist positions of hard right wing Republicans from the Tea Party. The Republicans need to wake up and realize that the Tea Party has cost them dearly at the polls. The GOP had a good shot at two Senate seats in Missouri and Indiana and lost both of them because of its candidates represented the fantasy world of the Tea Party.
|Tea Party theater|
Second, elections are becoming ridiculously expensive. The presidential and congressional elections this year cost about $6 billion, or $18 for every person in the United States. Compare that to Britain where the 2010 election cost the equivalent of $0.80 per head. Huge Republican Obama-hating donors like Sheldon Adelson ($53 million), Harold Simmons ($24 million) or Bob Perry ($22 million) must wonder how they could waste so much money. You have to wonder how theoretically shrewd investors like that could be happy with a total wipe out. We have not heard how other major ultra-conservative donors like the Koch brothers, who, among other things, sent a letter to their 45,000 employees urging them to vote for Romney, reacted to their defeat.
|Sheldon 'How-Did-I-Blow-$53 million' Adelson|
Third, the prime minister of Israel, Binyamin Netanyahu, has to do some fast back-peddling. Relations between Obama and Netanyahu were frosty to start with, and only got worse as the Israeli prime minister interfered in American elections and worked so hard to defeat Obama. His efforts failed on two counts. Obama won, and he got almost 70% of the Jewish vote. Now that he has nothing to lose Obama could come down on Netanyahu like a ton of bricks and demand real action on the illegal West Bank settlements and a serious push for Palestinian statehood. Look for him to show the new U.S. attitude by at least abstaining the next time a controversial United Nations vote on Israel comes up.
Fourth, will the Republicans realize that things like Obama’s health care plan are here to stay and that taxes on the super rich are going up? Will they work to make the government work better or will they follow the idiotic Grover Norquist (head of the ill-named lobbying group Americans for Tax Reform) position of rejecting any and all tax increases? The jury is out while they lick their wounds and try to figure out how they could have lost a ‘sure’ thing.
Fifth, we can safely ignore and tune out the outrageous and completely irrelevant talk show people like Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Mark Levin and all others like the foolish Donald Trump who now proclaim the end of civilization as we know it. The next time people like Ed Whelan whine about 'a growing mass of citizens seemingly wedded to big government spending' we should ask him about huge defence contractors, farm subsidies or all those companies that pay no U.S. federal income tax. These people are certainly loud, but we should know by now that they have absolute no, repeat no, influence on national elections. So we can simply ignore them and let them play in their ever decreasing play pen with the other children.
Sixth, who will emerge from the Republican wreckage? Will they turn to Republican Hispanic poster-boy Marco Rubio, a GOP senator from Florida? Doubtful. The mayor of a large southern city told me last spring that Republicans are cool on Rubio because he could not even deliver Florida for Romney. He was right. Jeb Bush (who would have to overcome the ‘not-another-Bush’ attitude')? Paul Ryan? Or will a new face emerge with a message that resonates with a wider base? My guess is that the hard-right part of the Republican party will resist any compromise with a “Better Dead Than Red” attitude and would even consider splitting from a mainstream party.
|Can Paul Ryan pump some reality into the GOP?|