5 Wake-Up Calls From The Election

1) To people who hate math — Suck it: It’s not dumb to say that we have heaped more praise upon Nate Silver (and his compatriots like Sam Wang) than deserved. After all, it was the community of pollsters who actually got this right, Silver was just the guy telling us which polls were more likely correct. That said, the ire Silver raised among the conservative community was not directed at his aggregation model, but as a proxy for their displeasure with the field of statistics.

From Peggy Noonan’s faith in “vibrations” to Fred Barnes explaining the importance of trends that lacked “empirical evidence” conservatives lined up to explain their new false idols to replace the math they so strongly resisted. And all of these pseudo-sciences failed.

My word of advice is to stop blaming science for your problems. Slashing education spending will not shift the immutable laws of mathematics. It’s time to recognize that numbers are non-partisan and get a new argument.

2) Republicans — Recognize the Tea Party is done:The GOP recaptured the House of Representatives obviously will enter negotiations over the fiscal cliff with that chip in their hand. However with the losses of Joe Walsh and (most likely) Allen West, and the possible loss of Michele Bachmann, as well as the Senate-level defeats of Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock in easy GOP pick-up states, it’s time for the House of Representatives recognize that the Tea Party caucus that has driven the agenda of House Republicans for the last two years no longer has the backing of the bulk of the country.

Make no mistake, Tea Party sympathizers still wield tremendous power in the House, remaining in power because they occupy safely gerrymandered Republican districts, but if the House leadership is savvy, they will recognize the Tea Party as declining into functional irrelevance as anything more than a local political oddity. If they don’t, the Tea Party risks dragging the entire GOP down for even longer.

3) Mitt Romney — You face two paths: There were two notable instances of business people running for president in the last century. I have long compared the Mitt Romney campaign with that of Alf Landon in 1936. Landon campaigned against FDR on the grounds that the country needed a return to unfettered Big Business because even though those policies caused the financial crisis, Landon argued that FDR’s recovery was too slow. Sound familiar?

Alf Landon retired from public life after the election and rejoined the oil industry. While he would continue to opine on politics when asked — ultimately supporting Medicare and the Great Society — and would father a future U.S. Senator in Nancy Kessebaum, Landon more or less departed from the public sphere.

On the other hand, Herbert Hoover, who lost the presidency in 1932, was a multi-millionaire from his endeavors as an investor in mining. After his defeat, Hoover spent much of the FDR years on the sidelines of government, but continued setting up relief organizations before ultimately joining the Truman administration aiding with WWII relief efforts and head the Hoover Commission, which streamlined the federal bureaucracy.

Mitt Romney is older than his plastic exterior would suggest, but he faces the choice of retiring completely or returning to private business, or spending his golden years contributing to the country in other ways.

4) Future Democratic Strategists — Republicans are going to make a play for the Latino vote: The Obama coalition depends in part on running up big numbers among Latinos, an ethnic group that Republicans have routinely short-changed in their bid to appeal to the covertly (and overtly) xenophobic and racist fringe of the GOP. The immigration laws in Arizona and Alabama that allow authorities to make the 1940s Gestapo-stereotype request “show me your papers” on the mere suspicion that someone might be an illegal immigrant are direct attacks on the very personhood of Latinos.

While some Republicans see no problems with this, many others are more intelligent. Unfortunately for the GOP, the chatter right now is for a completely superficial outreach effort. Specifically, “hey, what if our nominee was Marco Rubio or Susana Martinez?” Or, as Dan Savage kind of crudely put it in an episode of the Slate Political Gabfest, “what about Jeb Bush? He fucks one!” Even Mitt Romney explained that he thought he’d be doing better in the election if he was actually Latino.

But superficiality is dangerous because it sometimes works — maybe not on most people, but potentially just enough to swing an election. Democrats need to spend the next 4 years making a full-throated call for the rights of Latinos. That means proposing comprehensive immigration reform (even if it may be doomed in the House), pursuing and more aggressively publicizing the civil rights cases brought against people like Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and using executive power as often as possible to accomplish piecemeal reform when blocked by the House. Democrats need to ensure that the next 4 years of policy clearly reflect a unity with the needs of the Latino community in a way that can overcome a GOP nominee shilling themselves as, “hey we’re Latino…so we must be a better candidate.”

5) President Obama — You should feel constrained by 2014: As of right now, President Obama has a friendly Senate with 54 Senators caucusing with the Democrats and one race — North Dakota — still a dead-heat with 93% of the vote in. While not controlling the House limits Obama, it’s much better than being out of power in both chambers.

To the extent there’s any grand bargain to be had, it rests on holding the Senate too. But in 2014, the Democrats face an uphill battle with 5 seats — and thus control — in serious trouble. Alaska, Arkansas, Montana, North Carolina, and South Dakota have Democratic Senators facing reelection. Those are all states that Mitt Romney won this election. The Democrats don’t have an obvious pick-up opportunity unless Maine’s Susan Collins retires.

In some ways this is more a wake-up call to Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer. Both are over 70 and their life-tenured replacements require Senate approval. If they don’t evacuate their seats in the next two years, President Obama could well face an obstructionist Senate blocking any reasonable jurist to replace these stalwarts of the Court’s liberal wing.

So to all of these people, this is your wake-up call. What are you going to do about it?

2 comments for “5 Wake-Up Calls From The Election

  1. Robin G
    November 7, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    Praying we get some Supreme Court appointees post-haste.

    • Darryl of FH
      November 11, 2012 at 1:09 pm

      Amen!

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