Written by Scott Parker
So it’s all well and truly over. And thank God too. It’s a gooooood morning around here folks, and I am just bursting at the seams to ponder the lessons learned in this election.
1. AMERICA IS CHANGING. The far-right view of the stereotypical Conservative is no longer playing with the majority of Americans. Minorities have greater power and influence. Women have greater power and influence. Gay people have greater power and influence. These are not debatable points–they are reality. To deny these very simple truths would be to live your life with your eyes closed–it might be an easy thing to do, but it’s also self-deceptive. If you are a hard-right Republican, you would do yourself some good to look at the tide of change that is engulfing this country and move your view to the center. You don’t have to, but if you don’t, as we’ve seen, you’ll pay a big price.
2. POWERFUL INTEREST CANNOT BUY DEMOCRACY. Karl Rove persuaded a bunch of millionaires that if he gave them a whole lot of money, he would deliver Barack Obama on a silver platter. That didn’t happen. The GOP kept the House, but let’s think about this objectively–all that money to keep things just as they were? Republicans–at least the ones with the ability to be objective–realize that they were lucky to hold onto what they held onto.
3. IF YOU WANT TO WIN AN ELECTION, HAVE A QUALITY CANDIDATE. The blame game has already begun among Republicans, and seems to focus–correctly–on the idea that Mitt Romney was a flawed candidate. The epic flip-flops, the malleability of the message–all of this and much more played against a man who, after all, turned out to be wholly without personal conviction. When your running mate–who himself would have made a very vulnerable candidate–has a far higher favorability rating, something is terribly wrong. Yes, Romney got a bump in the polls after the first debate, mainly because he shocked everyone by coming out as a moderate (though no one should have been surprised given all the flip-flopping). But the final results last night were exactly what I predicted on my own RCP map before the first debate. The top figures in the Republican Party, as represented by Newt Gingrich this morning on CNN anyway, already know that if they continue down their current path, their slide toward irrelevance is assured. This election was a big rejection of far-right Conservative principles, and it would take some real fantasizing to spin it in another reasonable direction.
4. HAVING A TV NEWS NETWORK AS THE VOICE OF YOUR PARTY DOESN’T HELP ANYTHING REALLY. Sure it’s fun to watch Fox News for a giggle, but it’s very important to remember–they are intentionally limited in the factual information they provide to their regular viewers, and have to be that way because they want/need to keep that base engaged and watching. Like all networks, Fox is primarily about ratings, and cynically exploits its audience in order to get those ratings. Their job was to pump the base up, in the face of what looked to be–and what turned out to be, in plain fact–a tide of change that would largely engulf the politics of division and obstruction that is at the heart of their message. What did Fox News accomplish in doing so? A lot of broken spirits–and the priceless view of Karl Rove, apoplectic, feverishly crunching numbers AFTER the election was called by Fox’s own people and suggesting that his party’s own major news organization was wrong. Say a prayer for Karl Rove–when the billionaires get to him, he’ll have A LOT to answer for. Nothing will change, of course–as I type this, Rove is on Fox stating that Obama’s margin of victory was slightly smaller than his massive victory in 2008, like this is relevant to anything. Obama was vulnerable politically, everyone knew it. Republicans couldn’t do better than they did? You’re gonna hang your hat on a slightly smaller margin of victory? OK, if it makes you feel better, go for it. We don’t want you to be sad.
5. PROGRESS HAPPENS. You really, really can’t turn back the tide. If you look at the history of America, both politically in socially, it has always moved forward. People try to resist, but eventually everything comes to pass. Once you give people such things as civil rights, the ability to get an abortion legally or to marry their same-sex partner, you can’t take those rights away. We are not a society governed purely by religious belief or personal bigotry. Americans are all about freedom—and yep, that would mean freedom for all, kids.
6. IF YOU ARE A REPUBLICAN AND ARE RUNNING FOR OFFICE, NEVER MENTION RAPE OR RAPE BABIES. Both of the morons with high-profile “rape” comments lost their seats. What does this tell you? Here’s a clue: I don’t know if you know this, but WOMEN HAVE THE RIGHT TO VOTE. And believe it or not, they are SMART. Heck, give me a smart woman over a smart man any day. I have no doubt that more would get done.
7. WHEN YOU WORK WITH YOUR OPPONENT RATHER THAN AGAINST HIM, IT MAKES AMERICA STRONGER. Chris Christie and Barack Obama worked together on Sandy relief, with Christie–a very staunch, high-profile Conservative–giving high praise to the President. In an era of big-time divisiveness and obstruction, this was a good thing–two ideologically opposed leaders working together for the greater good. Sure, Fox News was taking shots this very morning at Obama because the east coast isn’t 100% cleaned up, but they do not live in the real world, so that’s OK.
8. THE TEA PARTY WAS A BAD IDEA. Tea Partiers were swept into office in 2010, and promptly proceeded to add immeasurably to the Government gridlock that was already upsetting most Americans. The Republican Party has backed away from the Teabaggers ever since. Some, like the aforementioned Karl Rove, knew this was a bad idea to begin with. An extreme platform will not win you an election—not a significant one at least. Even Ron Paul, who helped inspire the movement, washed his hands of any real involvement with it yesterday on CNN. The Tea Party isn’t dead (neither is the KKK, or the American Nazi Party by the way–har har), but its influence is on life support if it’s given any serious consideration by the majority of Americans in any way, shape or form.
And a bit of advice for my Democrat friends:
9. IF YOU HAVE A FAR-RIGHT REPUBLICAN FRIEND, KEEP ‘EM TALKING. One of the key factors in losing this election for the Republicans was that their own far-right stance alienated people. Remember, most people are neither far-right nor far-left. There are an awful lot of folks in the middle. Alienating them means that you WILL NOT GET THEIR VOTE. Don’t believe me? It’s just simple fact. So if you wish for the Democratic nominee to win in 2016, draw your far-right Republican friends into the conversation and keep ’em talking. They are guaranteed to push people away, and as Lindsay Graham put it, the Republican party is “not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term”. That’s a rare moment of lucidity and candor from a Republican, but at least SOMEONE out there knows in what direction the light switch lay. Interestingly, Obama appears to have picked up a fair amount of moderate Republican votes as well. If that isn’t a rejection of an ideology, I dunno what is.
Soooo…there you are. There will be a lot of chatter about why Romney lost, and why the Republicans gained, well, basically nothing. All that money, all that spouting off, all the obstruction, all the partisanship–all for nothing. The people have spoken–work together, or get out.
With that, it’s time to go to work!
Scott Parker is the creator of Scott Parker Books, through which he has written and published various rock music books on Frank Zappa, The Who, Woodstock and several others. He is also the host of Zappacast, a podcast featuring exclusive interviews with friends, family and fellow artists affiliated with Frank Zappa as well as his music.