So after many months, millions of dollars, and thousands of TV hours, the 2012 presidential election is finally over. And now the smoke has cleared, the GOP, still reeling from a stunning defeat, is left to lick its wounds.
Some GOP insiders, such as Rush Limbaugh, said before the election that if Obama won it would spell the end of the GOP. This was not the first hyperbolic statement. Glenn Beck also said that Obama's election would mark the end of America and predicted that God was on Romney's side. Oops.
As much as I would like to believe that the GOP is dead, I doubt if they are. They will still be a force in American politics. But if they were smart they would have realized some lessons from this election defeat. And those lessons are:
- Cut back on the racism and ramp up the diversity. America is already a diverse country, and is on the brink of going majority minority. Obama won 93 percent of the black vote and more than 70 percent of the Latino vote. The Republican party cannot afford to alienate Latino voters, who are the fastest-growing ethnic group. So if the GOP was smart, they would cut back on the immigrant bashing, and start working on some kind of immigration reform program. I doubt if this will happen, because the Republicans have too much invested in what Sen. Lindsay Graham calls "angry white men," If they turn around and say it's time to be nice to those Hispanics, many of the angry white men will simply form a splinter party. White rage has been the only way that the GOP has managed to get working class Americans to vote against their interests for decades. But that doesn't work when their numbers are rapidly declining. If the GOP was smart, they would start lining up a Latino presidential or vice presidential candidate and many other candidates of color. The key word being if.
- The right-wing media has lost touch with reality. As I have said before, the right wing media does a disservice to its viewers by publishing absolute tripe. This is the reason why FOX and Friends is such a joke it is regularly pilloried on "Saturday Night Live." And this is the reason why Donald Trump, who apparently has more money than hair and brains, is regularly allowed to spew his nonsense on FOX News. Talk of revolution, birtherism and calls for the president's transcripts are all game on FOX. The problem is none of this really matters to the public, who are concerned about real issues like global warming, the war in Afghanistan and the economy. The right-wing media was shocked at the results of the election because they have spent too much time indulging in conspiracy theories and not real facts. Let's hope we have seen an end to monstrosities such as "2016: Obama's America" and "Dreams of My Real Father."
- Don't piss off women. Obama's coalition consists of liberal/moderate white men, minorities, gays and women. (He received 55 percent of the female vote.) And the GOP's far-right, sexist and downright loony candidates just pushed women further into the hands of the Democrats. Women took offense to candidates like Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin, who believe that women should bear the children of their rapists. They also didn't appreciate Mourdock saying children of rape were gifts from God. If the GOP wants to win women over they need to move into the 21st century and make sure their candidates have a working knowledge of the female anatomy.
- Money isn't everything. Barack Obama was widely outspent by the Romney campaign, but he was able to rely on a combination of whiz-bang technology and good old fashioned elbow grease to carve out a victory. According to a tweet by Donald Trump, Karl Rove spent about $400 million on the race and still lost. The GOP relied on media advertising, which they had the money to do, but the Obama campaign relied on online and offline campaigning. And that was often more effective, as most people either disbelieve or tune out political adds.
- Voter suppression didn't work. Voter suppression can only work in a vacuum caused by media silence and a docile Democratic party. That didn't work this time, because in today's media environment, anyone with a cell phone is a journalist and they can upload material and share it with thousands of users in a few seconds. So even if the media was determined not to talk about voter suppression, people still got the story through social media. In addition, the Democratic party was geared up and had an army of lawyers ready to pounce at the first sign of trouble.
- Listen to Nate Silver. Nate Silver, the New York Times number cruncher, predicted that Obama would win with 300 votes, and that is what happened. This is the third race Silver has accurately predicted. He also predicted 49 out of 50 states in 2008 and that Republicans would win the 2010 Mid-Term elections. Three out of three is pretty good. When Nate speaks, we should all listen.
Now considering these points, the GOP ought to go away and do some soul searching and come up with a new game plan. But I have the feeling it won't heed the lessons of 2012. And as the old saying goes, until you learn your lesson, you are doomed to keep repeating the same mistakes.