As the Republican party continues its autopsy of its epic failure to unseat an incumbent Democratic President laboring under the worst economy since the Great Depression, it should keep in mind the figures 124 million and 62 million. If at least 124 million Americans vote in a presidential election, they are almost certain to put Democrats in the White House. In truth, President Obama could have given up as many as four million of his 65.6 million votes last month and still won. In the 48 months between the election of 2012 and 2016, another 2.4 million HispanicLatinos will turn 18 and most will be eligible to vote. These new voters represent an increasingly politically-engaged group that last month voted more than 70 percent Democratic. That is how real and deadly the future seems for Republicans.
In many ways the future is unmanageable for the GOP. It is one thing to gaze at the spectacle of House Speaker John Boehner dealing with the Tea party in the Republican Caucus in the House of Representatives. That is bad enough. But even if Republicans at the national level can somehow moderate their views on issues of importance to HispanicLatinos, women, gays and lesbians and independent voters in general, they will have to deal with radical Republicans at the state level – which for all practical purposes in a digital, 24/7 world can produce unrelenting chaos. Any story coming out from any state capitol or county courthouse can become a national sensation in a microsecond. Think Joe Arpaio in Arizona or Todd Akin in Missouri. That is what makes the 62-million figure important.
It is hard to see how and why the leadership of the Republican party does not see the danger at hand for its future. Its leaders are not aware that their party could be only a few years from extinction. Things do die. Larger entities than the Republican party – whole empires and powerful corporations, in fact – have disappeared through history. A political party disappearing is nothing. On this business of the fiscal cliff, the country already is suspicious of Republicans by a 2-1 margin. So within a few weeks, the country could blame Republicans for throwing the economy back into recession. And let us say that another storm like Sandy brews up in the Atlantic next summer, pushes past Florida and instead of wrecking New York and New Jersey parks itself over Atlanta this time. Already caught in a demographic squeeze as the nation’s population changes, embroiled in an extended Bush recession and then pasted by another blow from the change in climate that Republicans deny – the GOP could be at the precipice leading into the 2014 midterm elections. They just lost an election that if President Obama had had a better night in Denver one evening might have turned into a landslide. And now, another storm named Hillary already is beginning to vent its first soft but undeniable breezes for 2016.
Are we fitted into the times we are born into? So asks Abraham Lincoln in the new film that should be required viewing for all – more so for modern-day Republicans than anyone else. The Lincoln in Lincoln is the dream of any Democrat or Republican. A nation so divided as ours is today, riven by intense ideological rivalries and regional, sectional differences, could use an individual who commands the respect of all to ask the eternal question we ask of ourselves with often vague success, How and where do we fit? Lincoln did not ask the more important question that has dogged humankind since it attained the power to reason, What does it all mean? No, he asked the one that we should be able to answer, for we do have the power to control our lives. Incumbent in Lincoln’s question is the degree to which each citizen and resident of the United States understands his or her responsibilities.
Years ago as a young boy in the small town of West Texas where I grew up, I would daydream along the railroad tracks in the shallow valley below our home. I would wait for the high, mighty trains that I imagined came roaring from Los Angeles from the west or Atlanta from the east. The trains would slow down as they sped by an old salt lake but even so would displace enough air to create a powerful force that on occasion sent my thin, reedy body reeling and crashing into the brown dirt. While other boys were sniffing glue, I was getting off on sudden blasts of air from caravans of steel that the day before might have sat idling near the Pacific or come from the other side of the country where Sherman ran roughshod over the Confederacy.
One day, one of the trains slowed to a pace slower than usual. A clump of rail yard workers not far from me waited. One of the crew stood by a thick iron stick that he pushed away from his body. As he did, the tracks moved and separated in part. I watched with fascination. A new set of tracks appeared suddenly and diverted the massive train to another set of tracks. That decades-old image came to mind as I sat with my old college roommate watching the returns of the election of 2012 that some observers have characterized as a status-quo election. It was anything but. In fact, it was a shattering election – far more important than the pedantic conclusion that Democrats retained control of the White House and the Senate and that Republicans maintained their majority in the House.
The topic of immediate concern in Washington is the nation’s fiscal crisis. Nothing is more important. But not long thereafter, the time for immigration reform will arrive. What does immigration reform mean? When will the Obama Administration and Democrats in Congress draft and propose legislation? Is the intention to build on the last proposal that went nowhere? Is there a legalization component? President Obama should be involved directly, but will he engage? Who in Congress and within public interest organizations will be central to this drama? Is there a cost to the Treasury? What terms are acceptable to discuss in public? Will the fight be as bitter as over healthcare? What steps are being taken to assure that the public accepts proposed legislation? Will all come to naught in the face of Republican opposition and predictable Democratic angst? Will hard political capital on both sides of the aisle be used to get this done? Or will one party use it to set up the other in time for November, 2014?
Listed in this fashion, the questions frame the sheer difficulty of what is demonstrably easier said than done. No one has answers for most of them, except that the Administration will need every tool to achieve success – and develop new ones.
The baying at the moon began the instant it became evident that none of the swing states were going Mitt Romney’s way on Tuesday evening. Like gargoyles atop a cathedral, the faces of Republican strategists and their sidekicks on right-wing television looked stunned with surprise then were etched by gall. After denial could no longer hold back the reality of the night, horror began to grip their faces. Barack Obama would be President until 2017, and the billions of dollars that the Supreme Court had sanctioned for corporations to buy the election started going down the drain as each race for the Senate was called. Their only consolation was losing a handful of seats in House of Representatives – and that only because state legislatures throughout the country have so gerrymandered congressional districts that Democrats cannot mount competitive races in most states.
And so before the night was out, the discussion turned to how Republicans “reach out” to HispanicLatinos, who generated supermajorities of as much as 80 percent in some states for the Democratic ticket. Continue reading →
With the election over, there is no question we have entered the age of the new demography in which the changing internal populations of countries are remaking their politics. HispanicLatinos, millennials, African Americans, independent women, gays and lesbians and a host of fair-minded voters not blinded by religious fervor or abject racism came together and delivered a good win for President Barack Obama. The uncertainty is whether the United States will give itself the chance to take advantage of its demographic transformation to secure its future. In that sense, we have entered a new age of opportunity. But it is also clear we have entered the age of climate change. The assertion of the new demography came simultaneously with Hurricane Sandy that should have blasted smugness for all time.
If I may, a personal, self-serving note: If Florida, as expected, is finally given to Obama, it will confirm the call I made on October 29 that nailed the election’s outcome on the button in the Electoral College. On the popular vote, I was also very close. I said the spread between Obama and Mitt Romney would be three million votes. The spread currently stands at about 2.7 million. You can read that blog at:
It is almost impossible to understand Ruben Navarrette. On the heels of trying to take down Olympic hero Leo Manzano a couple months ago, Navarrette in a column published by CNN on its website is trying, in effect, to keep HispanicLatinos from voting for President Obama. It is no longer important to understand what makes Navarrette tick, though his point is well taken: HispanicLatinos are not yet respected fully by the political system. But his answer to the problem is particularly atrocious. Navarrette wants HispanicLatinos to vote for neither Mitt Romney nor Obama – a half no-vote for each.
Navarrette when he votes today thereby would deny a full vote to Obama, the one of the two candidates more likely to nominate a member of the Supreme Court likely to defend the constitutional rights that HispanicLatinos need to…become respected fully by the political system.
Whether President Obama wins re-election tomorrow, some electoral post-scripts will be engaged immediately. We will know if the HispanicLatino vote was important as expected, especially in the swing states. One of the two campaigns clearly will not have done enough to win – while hundreds of thousands of HispanicLatinos who did not vote could have made the difference. In either case, the HispanicLatino vote becomes ever more important. On the very day after the election, they will add more potential voters for 2016 proportionately than any other group.
If Obama wins with the HispanicLatino vote having proven decisive, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio will shoot to the head of the pack in his party, and his political action committees will begin to attract immediate money. Just as important, he will draw additional, competent political advisors with national experience to make sure the young legislator does not misstep and try to turn his party away from its harsh anti-HispanicLatino rhetoric. For those reasons, Rubio and sophisticated political analysts – not necessarily the ones on television every morning – will look closely at the results from three distinct congressional races across the country to read tea leaves about the future and to consider other possibilities.
On the weekend before the election, it feels it is going President Obama’s way. My own sense of how it ends, made earlier this week, is only an educated guess. The inside-the-Beltway crowd insists the election is a close contest. The savants in the newspapers and on television assert that the election is a near standoff between an aroused Tea party financed by this century’s version of robber barons and the presumably more sophisticated Obama ground game. That is a simple narrative that might prove imprecise. After all, the Tea party derived its sweep in the 2010 midterm elections from a smaller and therefore different electorate.
In 2010, about 91 million people voted – 38 million less than the 129 million who voted in 2008 when Obama won by almost 10 million votes. It seems it would take less effort among Obama supporters to generate as many Tea party voters. So the worry about lagging enthusiasm among Obama’s supporters that the pundits fuss over probably is not as appropriate as they surmise. Obama would have to lose close to 100 percent of his winning 2008 margin and suffer other desertions from his ranks to lose the election – ranks that have grown naturally, too. It could happen, of course.