Barack Obama’s victory over Mitt Romney may have saved the American middle class, depending on what Romney may or may not have done after assuming the presidency. Now we’ll never know. But Romney was gracious and conciliatory in defeat and hereafter the focus falls squarely on President Obama and the obstructionist GOP — a rudderless, captain-less ship rushing headlong toward destruction by an immense iceberg called Demographics.
The GOP’s main appeal is to aging white Christian alpha males — the kind who go to church, read the Bible, sing a few hymns, then try to chauvinistically dictate how other people should live their lives. Thus the GOP has lost all appeal for the majority of women, gays, minorities and increasingly liberal-minded young people. The GOP’s problem is obvious: the American public is becoming more diverse and tolerant, so racism, sexism and homophobia increasingly alienate voters, driving them to Democratic candidates, even in tough economic times.
Because the economy has been in the doldrums for Obama’s first term, this should have been an election in which the GOP won back the presidency and picked up seats in Congress. But an interesting thing happened on the way to the quorum: women, gays, minorities and young people didn’t vote for economic saviors. By resounding margins they preferred life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Some of them stood in line until the wee hours of the morning to make their voices heard. And they voted for equality and progress, even if it means paying higher taxes to help the less advantaged. In the end, there weren’t enough white men voting their wallets and narrow-minded parochialism for Republicans to win. And there will be fewer and fewer white patriarchs voting in each new election.
Voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington said “yes” to gay marriage. Minnesota voters rejected an attempt to ban gay marriage. Wisconsin voters elected the nation’s first openly gay senator. Voters in Colorado and Washington approved the recreational use of marijuana. So the handwriting is clearly on the wall for backward-looking Republicans: “You have been measured and found wanting ... .”
Tea Party types who were fired by voters included Joe Walsh, Richard Mourdock, Todd Akin and Allen West. Even Michelle Bachmann was in danger of losing to a Democrat in a heavily Republican district, despite outspending him by a factor of 12 to 1. Is there any doubt that lunatic-fringe “crackpottery” was a major cause of voter displeasure?
Romney was obviously not the main problem. The blowout would have been even worse if the Republican presidential candidate had been an arch-conservative like Santorum, Bachmann, Cain, Perry or Palin.
How can we be sure? Well, the GOP had 17 viable Senate candidates, most of whom ran far to the right of Romney. In 12 of the 17 states in question, Romney outperformed the more conservative Senate candidates, often by wide margins. The five candidates who bested Romney in their respective states all ran as moderates. So voters rejected conservatism and the presidential race was only as close as it was because Romney ditched being “severely conservative” by morphing into Peace Butterfly Mitt in a carefully calculated and orchestrated Etch-a-Sketch campaign. But he lost credibility in the process, a victim of his party’s medieval worldview that required him to play a warlike hayseed in the early going.
The handwriting may also be on the wall for the pro-Israel war hawks and neocons. (Ironically, the majority of Jewish voters also rejected conservatism.) Sheldon Adelson was 0-7 on the night as all the candidates he funded — George Allen, Shmuley Boteach, Adam Hasner, Connie Mack, West, Romney and Pat Ryan — were defeated. Since the hawks tend to be wildly regressive on social issues, their plans to ally Israel and the U.S. in new Holy Wars may be going down the tubes, thanks to Demographics.
Demographics also suggest that the GOP will have trouble winning elections as long as nearly every plank in its platform remains a creaking anachronism: anti-equality, anti-choice, anti-progress, anti-peace. If the economy continues to improve, and the Democrats are seen as being better on both economics and social issues, Republicans may go the way of the dinosaurs, plodding inexorably toward extinction. If they want to survive, they need to admit that it’s now the 21st century and start to evolve.
Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary” at www.thehypertexts.com.