The demographic clock's ticking. It's crucial that the GOP establishment "gets" it since it's obvious that the electorate has it figured out. On election day Americans rejected 12 of 16 Tea Party candidates nationwide including Richard Mourdock (aka the "rape guy ") and Todd Akin (aka the "legitimate rape guy") along with Florida's Alan West and Illinois' Joe Walsh, a couple first-term incumbents who embody the sort of hard-right extremism that drives mainstream Republicans straight into the "independent" column.
A conservative dilemma?
Attaining and holding on to power is the obvious basis for any political party's existence, which is why McConnell's dream of a one-term Obama presidency makes perfect sense. However, in this case, McConnell's rationale may be based on something beyond a simple attempt at getting the jump on the traditional Democratic/Republican revolving cycle of power. It may stem from the recognition that the window of opportunity for keeping the conservative doctrine viable requires immediate action to deny Americans a taste of the progressive-policy agenda of both Obama and the Democratic party.
On election day, Democrats made gains in the House and won all but one contested race in the Senate. President Obama won all but one of the swing states and won majorities among women; moderates; 18-44-year-olds; Asians (by over 70 percent); people earning below $50,000 annually; Catholics; African-Americans; and Latinos. He received 3 million more of the popular vote and 126 more electoral votes than his Republican opponent.
Taking all that into consideration, could it be that McConnell and his fellow hard-right ideologues grapple with the possibility that at this stage in America's societal evolution voters view the progressive, rather than conservative, outlook as most simpatico with the kind of thinking needed to sustain America's relevance and viability?
It's something to consider. Our president is now officially a lame duck. If McConnell and his GOP cohorts truly believe that a progressive agenda is so destructive to America, then why bother thwarting Obama's efforts to implement progressive policies? Just give Obama everything he asks and within a year or so, America will become such a social and economic basket case that voters would be practically begging for the return of GOP leadership. A Democrat wouldn't have a chance in 2016.
But that won't happen. McConnell and company understand that within the hard right's tightly wound ideological cocoon, the slightest embrace of progressive policies amounts to a complete repudiation of conservative values. Fair enough. But that type of stifling dogmatism will have to be eradicated if the GOP intends on remaining relevant.
Despite its ghastly 2012 outcome, the GOP still has a tremendous opportunity to make a political comeback. Stop with the foisting of 50's era candidates -- especially those exhibiting the furtiveness of a Mitt Romney. And drop the false pretense that fails to disguise the perverse reverse populism that draws filthy-rich politicians like Romney into leveling charges of "class warfare" against those struggling to rise from the lower rungs of the economic ladder.
Epilogue: Planes to the Party; Souls to the Polls
In a way, a metaphor for this election may have been expressed by way of an interesting sequence of events, one of which was the focus of an item that appeared in a local Boston newspaper one day after the election. The report noted the election-day arrival to Boston's Logan airport of about 50 private jets, each filled with corporate squids, their main squeezes, and other Romney supporters who jetted in to partake in Mitt's "victory" gala at the Boston Convention Center. That item reported that airport personnel had trouble finding spots in which to shoehorn this fleet of corporate jets, a quandary that resulted in delays of a several minutes or more before the well-heeled Romney supporters were able to high-step their way off into the night.
Meanwhile on that same day throughout America -- particularly in states where voter-suppression laws had been enacted -- church vans numbering perhaps in the thousands, some emblazoned with the moniker Souls to the Polls, were busy shuttling ordinary Americans not to presumptive victory parties, but to the polls. Many aboard those vans understood that they were facing an up to 7-hour wait to cast their ballot. To me, the contrast revealed itself in the form of numbers of dollars versus numbers of people and in 2012, the people won.
Nevertheless, the formula for a GOP comeback is not rocket science; it must open its eyes wider and more broadly. It must take in a more panoramic view of America, circa 2012 instead of flailing against the demographic changes that continue to unfold. They must then follow up with a legislative and governing approach that lends itself to far more pragmatism than that which it has presented over the past four years. By stepping in that direction, the politics will take care of itself.
Just ask President Barack Obama.