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What a relief

November 19, 2012 - Chris Tomassucci

So, we had an election in this country and Republicans lost across the board.

On top of President Obama’s resounding victory in both the Electoral College and the popular vote, Democrats picked up seats in the Senate and the House, a feat nobody thought possible just a few months ago.

Not only was the electoral victory decisive for Democrats, President Obama also fared better in exit polling on questions like “Which candidate cares about people like me?”

More voters agreed with the president on comprehensive immigration reform, and Wall Street regulations.

More people today still blame the policies of George W. Bush for our economic woes than they blame Obama.

Voters also agreed with President Obama on the policy question that provided perhaps the clearest definitive difference between the two candidates during the campaign: should tax rates on the wealthy go up?

This election—like every election in the U.S.—was a battle of ideas. The candidate with the best ideas for the country came out on top.

Do we want to remain the only modern industrialized nation where quality health care is attainable only for those who can afford the ever increasing prices charged by insurance companies?

Do we want Wall Street to have less regulation? How about oil companies?

Are we longing for a repeat of 2008 when the economy crashed?

Do we want a party and president who will fight for equal pay for women in the U.S.?

Do we want to turn the reigns of our foreign policy back over to those same masterminds behind the Iraq war?

What about education? Do we want to grow our Pell Grant program and make it easier for young people in this country to go to college? Or do we want to make student loans more expensive and a college education ever more unattainable for young Americans?

Do we want our young men and women to come home from the longest war in our nation’s history?

These questions—these ideas about the future of our great nation—were put in front of the people. Mitt Romney and his ideas, along with the ideas of the Republican Party as a whole, lost on Nov. 6.

So, what lessons did Mr. Romney take from his stinging defeat? What could he have done better to get more voters to agree with his ideas? Well, according to Mitt Romney himself, nothing much.

You see, according to Mr. Romney, The GOP only lost because President Obama secured the votes of minorities, women, and young people (AKA: a majority of American citizens) by giving them “gifts.”

During a conference call with donors and fund raisers last week—while sounding an awful lot like he did in the infamous 47% comments—Romney said he just couldn’t compete with Obama and the Democrats because of these huge policy “gifts:”

“With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest was a big gift.”

“Free contraceptives were very big with young, college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008.”

This echoes what Rush Limbaugh had to say about the GOP’s loss the day after the election when he called President Obama “Santa Claus.”

Bill O’Reilly on Fox News had a similar assessment, saying that people who voted for Obama did so because they wanted “stuff,” and “things.”

To Romney, it was these specific “gifts” to certain constituencies (Read: non-wealthy, non-male, younger, and more diverse voters) that gave Obama the edge on election night.

“In each case, they were very generous in what they gave to those groups,” Romney said.

Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan had a similar explanation for his ticket’s loss. He cited Obama’s strength in “urban areas.”

Never mind that Obama’s victory was just as much a result of his carrying places like Mr. Ryan’s own hometown of Janesville, Wis., (decidedly not what you would consider a big “urban area,” Obama/Biden beat Romney/Ryan by more than 25 points in Janesville.)

And let us not forget the working-class, rural communities throughout Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Minnesota that Obama carried.

Who really cares though? Romney and Ryan lost, they are no longer running. Why should we care what they have to say now?

I have no interest in picking on a loser. But comments like those of Limbaugh, Romney, Ryan and others are illustrative of the flawed views held by the losers of the Nov. 6 election, and therefore worth taking a second look at.

You see, to Republicans, the Dream Act—which grants young immigrants brought to the U.S. by their parents a pathway to citizenship if they pursue higher education or serve in our military—is merely a “gift” from the Democrat “Santa Clause.”

Never mind that it might be the right thing to do to open a pathway to citizenship for a young person who has never known another country as home. Never mind that these young people have been working hard and pledging allegiance to our flag since they started going to our schools. Never mind that some of them are willing to fight and die for this country in the U.S. Military.

To the GOP, letting young adults stay on their parents' health insurance until they’re 26 is just another “gift” to the loyal Democratic constituency of young voters. The fact that the policy really does make the lives of countless American families better doesn’t concern Republicans.

This is where the rubber meets the road. It’s comments like these that show us how candidates and elected officials really think about their jobs as public servants.

The Republicans consider themselves “conservative” you see, and therefore really don’t like the government to do much of anything, for anyone.

Republicans want to keep the government from raising taxes on wealthy people. They want to keep the government from regulating and creating a more equitable health care system.

They really would rather not have had the government step in and save the American auto industry.

And they would prefer it if the government did not create more regulations for Wall Street.

Republicans would like for people who’ve worked their entire lives to maybe work a couple more years before they’re eligible for Social Security. They would like to see less Medicare and less Medicaid. The Magic Free Market Forces will care for the most vulnerable in our society instead.

To Democrats and President Obama on the other hand, the policy “gifts” spoken of by Romney are not part of some elaborate Machiavellian scheme to “buy” the votes of specific constituencies.

No, you see Democrats believe in the ability of government to have a positive impact on the day-to-day lives of average Americans. Naturally then, they pursue policies that help working families, young people, women, etc. Is that not what our elected officials are supposed to do?

That “gift” of the auto bailout may have secured the votes of blue-collar workers throughout Ohio and Michigan, but it also helped our economy and saved thousands of real American jobs.

The “gift” Democrats gave to young people by letting them stay on their parent’s health insurance may very well have energized more college students to come out and vote for Obama, but the policy also has a very real and very positive impact on families across this great nation.

And that is the big takeaway from the 2012 election.

We had a discussion throughout the year about whether we should’ve let Detroit go bankrupt. We argued about whether we should repeal Obamacare and scale back Wall Street regulations.

We talked about whether the super-wealthy should maybe pay just a bit more in taxes—nothing extravagant mind you, just back to the Clinton levels (you know, when our economy was booming).

The 2012 campaign was a battle of ideas. The idea that government for the people and by the people can—and more importantly, that it should—do good things for real people in this country won the day.

What a relief.



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