So after what seemed like a never ending campaign and hundreds of millions in ads, the dust has settled and Barack Obama gets another four years at the helm. Nationwide, a number of pro-pot and gay marriage initiatives passed. The Democrats increased their numbers in both the House and Senate.
Here in Wisconsin we elected the first openly gay member of the U.S. Senate and lost control of the State Senate.
Even though I am generally happy with the results, I don't want to get into "I told you so" mode for my friends on the other side. Instead, I just have some overall observations and comments about some different aspects of the election…
Blindsided Republicans: Over the last 12 hours, I've heard a number of conservatives say they were shocked and "blindsided" by the results of the Presidential election.My response to that? No kidding.
When you immerse yourself in the echo chamber of conservative media as many these days do, and the results come out different than what you've been hearing, a blindside is bound happen. When scientific polls don't show your guy ahead? Blame the polling methods! When you win the debate? Debates matter! When you don't? Debates don't matter! Global warming is a hoax and everyone knows it! Conservative media types love Paul Ryan so that means everyone else will too because P90X!
For months now all you've been hearing on conservative talk radio, conservative websites and on places like Fox News is just how awesome Romney is, how much Obama sucks and why 100 different reasons a day why everything is going to work out your way. Many conservatives never take time to listen to or consider alternate viewpoints because they don't want to hear them. They want to be reassured that yes, Pres. Obama really is a secret Muslim and that 50% of Americans are "moochers" because it validates their own opinions. While it may feel warm and fuzzy to only hear what you want to hear, reality has a way of yanking that protective blanky away real quick. A perfect example of this from last night is Karl Rove and Fox News insisting that despite what everyone else with a brain was saying about an Obama win, it just wasn't the case!!
My advice to those who feel blindsided by the results? Take off the blinders once in a while. There's a whole world of alternative viewpoints you should at the very least consider and use some critical thinking skills to evaluate.
President Obama: Despite four years of pounding by the conservative media establishment I talk about above, he walked away with a pretty convincing 100+ electoral college victory last night. While it wasn't by the wide vote margins he won with in 2008, a win is still a win. The question now becomes how he handles the GOP House to get anything done in order to create what every second term President wants: a legacy.
Mitt Romney: Despite blowing millions and millions of his own money, the guy could never connect with "regular" people. And how can you when you have to campaign to the right of Rick Perry & Newt Gingrich to win your party nomination then swerve back to the middle? Pro-choice and then Pro-life! For government control of healthcare and then against it! It just fed into his whole persona of "Say anything to get elected" that a lot of people believed.
Paul Ryan: Young gun! Up and coming! Future of the Republican Party! …or not. On the plus side, he won't lose his membership to the House gym and it's wide variety of bicep enhancing equipment.
SuperPACs: A lot of very rich people are a little less rich today with nothing to show for it. I'm glad that at least in this round, unlimited anonymous money wasn't enough to beat good old fashioned boots on the ground.
Minorities: This is another place that I just don't understand where the Republican party thinks it's going. Hispanics went for Obama by like 50 points, yet the GOP continues to do everything it can to drive the fastest growing ethnic group in America away. It takes more than hoisting up people like Marco Rubio or Herman Cain and saying, "See, we like minorities too!!" to gain their support, and yet all the very smart people in the Republican party can't seem to understand that. It's not about personalities, it's about policies. And when you brag to one group of people about how you're going to screw another group, don't be surprised when that second group doesn't much care for you around election time.
Republican House of Representatives: They didn't even wait for the results to come in before digging in their heals and saying they had just as much of a "mandate" as the President. The fact is, they (at this point) have lost a few seats, remain the most unpopular branch of government and only hold on to control because the gerrymandered districts that they all come from. It might be in their best short term interests to keep waiving the obstruction flag, but in the long term it's detrimental to their party and to progress. They claim they have a mandate? Then that must mean Senate Democrats have a mandate too, right?
Conservative media: Another group that will dig in because it's in their best interests. It's another four years of material for them to generate daily outrage among their angry, aging white audience. Expect to hear lots about how this Country is even more "doomed" than it was before and how if only Republicans would go even further right, they'd win! Purge the moderates. Heck, purge those who aren't on the rightest right plank and support the nutballs who are because they're the true patriots that deserve our support. Oh, and tune in tomorrow for the real story about how in order to hide his Muslim fathers birth certificate, Obama purposefully bombed a US embassy and let the military take the blame in order to hurt Southern states!!!!
Local races: Congrats to Nikiya Harris, Evan Goyke, Mandela Barnes and Daniel Reimer. All are solid young "doers" who I'm happy to call friends and support. They'll be a welcome breath of fresh air in the toxic environment that is Madison.
All in all, I'm thankful the elections are done for the time being. Here in Wisconsin, it's been pretty much a non-stop election for the past several years. It's going to be nice to log in to Facebook and not be bombarded with political missives or turn on the TV without a "I'm Joe Blow and I approve destroying my opponent's reputation".
Hopefully, everyone can let some of the rhetoric go and get down to real solutions. Is it going to be the end of the world if tax rates for those making more than $250,000 revert back to the boom days of the early 2000's, for example?