Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Election Is Over

You know it's bad when the list of reasons for your loss keeps growing. Mitt Romney is walking off the national stage with his head held high, but with an entire party rattling behind him like cans attached to a newlywed's bumper. The final list, as I see it, is thus:

1. Mitt was a lousy candidate
2. Obama's gave gifts to his voting blocs
3. Obama won the urban vote
4. Obama suppressed voting by making sure that Republicans didn't show up in higher numbers
5. Romney was not specific enough during the campaign
6. African-Americans showed up to vote in Maine
7. Not enough Christians voted for Mitt

Yeah, that about covers it, and the Mitt purge has already begun. By the first of the year he will be airbrushed out of the collective GOP memory, akin to a disgraced apparatchik from the old Soviet Union (they really should be given credit for anticipating Photoshop). In truth, he ran a bad campaign right from the beginning, allowing Obama to define him before he could define himself and making critical errors that stalled his progress. Only the first debate helped him, but not enough. Mitt, we hardly knew ya, but evidently that's the way we want it.

So now to govern. President Obama is wisely using his momentum to make sure that the GOP-run House understands that they will need to find new revenue in addition to spending cuts to avoid not only the fiscal difficulties we face, but their own irrelevance. The same can be said for immigration reform, which will also happen this year, and a reform of the tax code, which I predict will not include a cut or cap to the home mortgage deduction. We also have a new international crisis in the Middle East that threatens to grow and include other countries and terrorist groups.

Welcome to your second term, Mr. President.

In the end, I believe that the election of 2012 will be remembered as the one that ended the ascension of the conservatives in American political life. For thirty years the GOP controlled the message that focused on trickle down economics, an irresponsibly interventionist foreign policy and an anti-government creed that was meant to counteract, and ultimately destroy, the welfare state programs enacted from the 1930s to the 1960s. In part, they succeeded, but they also planted the seeds for the economic blowup and the massive redistribution of income from the middle class to the wealthy. It's now time to begin winding down that inequality and I think that's ultimately what the American people voted for on November 6.

We're finding out, after all, that starving government and blaming it for our ills can be destructive. It's led to slower responses to societal problems and unfairly labeling public employees as lazy, ineffective and wasteful. Government does have a role to play in guaranteeing that Americans who need programs and qualify for them actually get them. The free market works rather well in the United States, but the market can't cure all of our ills. We need public systems where the private sector can't, or won't, step in.

It's been a fun 18 months covering the political drama, but I'm closing the books on this election. Have a Happy Thanksgiving and let's all try to get along, shall we?

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