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The Big Winner of 2012: True Representation

Women. And compromise. And health care. And moderates. And the embrace of 21st century life. Election 2012 showed Republicans that they need to make some major changes to keep up with today.

 

I'm not writing this because I’m gloating over the results of Election 2012. I'm not writing this because I think “my guy” beat “their guy.”

I'm writing this because I think the election showed us some very important things about the citizens of these United States: 

Our country’s electorate chose to recognize the plurality of all its people and cast their votes in ways to protect the rights of all its citizens. Our country’s electorate chose to promote the idea of governing for the benefit of all citizens rather than the benefit of a few. And our country’s electorate chose to cast the majority of their votes for candidates who ran on a platform of inclusion and compromise against those whose party staked its campaign on religious superiority, intolerance and values from the past century.

On the whole, we learned quite a lot about our country last Tuesday, Nov. 6.

We learned that the country doesn’t take kindly to the restrictions on women and women’s health that many Republican candidates promoted during the campaigns. We saw this in the overwhelming rejection of candidates that not only made outrageous comments about rape and contraception, but also proposed legislation restricting women’s ability to make their own reproductive choices.

Candidates like Todd Akin (of “legitimate rape” fame), Joe Walsh, Scott Brown, Richard Mourdock (who suggested pregnancy after rape is a “gift from God”), Alan West, and others were defeated. An historic mark was made in the Senate—20 women senators will now hold seats in the upper chamber, including the legislative body’s first lesbian senator. Tammy Ducksworth, Clair McCaskill and others won spotlighted, news-making campaigns. Pro-choice candidates (including CT’s Chris Murphy and Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts) received resounding support across the country and women voters cast ballots overwhelmingly—by 38 percent—for Democratic candidates who supported women’s equality measures.

I heard one pundit on the morning after the elections make a pithy, yet incredibly insightful, analysis of what happened during Election 2012 when it came to how the Republican Party positioned itself. Matt Dowd of ABC said, “The Republicans ran a ‘Mad Men’ campaign in a ‘Modern Family’ world.” That couldn’t be more on point.

The election showed us that voters support social issues, like marriage equality and even legalization of marijuana, that are more of today than 50 years ago. When the 18-month debate and election cycle hyped the GOP’s reproductive platform that was not only anti-choice but also seemed to be anti-contraceptive, the country seemed to scratch their collective head at the end point and say, “What century do they think it is?” With states as varied as Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington supporting gay marriage referendums, it seems the country is supporting diversity more and more.

What the country doesn’t seem to support as much is the Tea Party. Five Tea Party candidates lost their runs for seats and the standard bearer—Michele Bachman—managed to only eke out a very tight win. This only highlights another major conclusion from the election: The GOP is highly fractured and needs to reassess its priorities, its leadership and its direction if it’s going to maintain a large enough electorate to represent.

Even in the less extreme sectors of the party, there is recognition that party unity has taken a major hit. Former Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer said that Mitt Romney wasn’t the “spiritual leader” of the party. Former party head Michael Steele and former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani both spoke out about how the Republicans as a whole need to reexamine how to incorporate more moderate views front and center into their party’s platform.

There were other major miscalculations the GOP made, especially when it came to money, and we saw that big money didn’t necessarily equate to big wins. Despite outspending the Democrats, the Republican candidates in key battles lost to the surprise of some party stalwarts. Karl Rove, the high priest of the party, had to come up with every rationalization in the book to explain why the big bucks and his strategy didn’t work—not only to big money donors but to himself—to great embarrassment on live TV while serving as a pundit on the conservative FOX network.

Speaking of overspending and waste, just look what happened to Linda McMahon. In her second failed bid for political office, the Connecticut Republican spent $50 million, this after the first $50 million she spent losing a bid for governor the year before. That’s quite a lot of money to spend on learning that what you stand for isn’t what voters want any more.

The Republicans failed to campaign in a 21st century way. The Democrats took much more advantage of social media platforms, fundraising and incorporating contemporary methods to economize what their less full war chests contained.

Overall, the Republicans miscalculated who would come out to vote and who was important in the electorate. Despite beliefs that the youth vote wouldn’t turn out for President Obama in 2012 like they did in 2008, the opposite happened: the youth vote increased and the overwhelmingly supported the President’s re-election. The enthusiasm amongst women and minority voters was at an all-time high for the Democrats once again.

Sadly, it was reflected in the faces of the Republican candidates and spokespeople out front and center of the party. Donald Trump and the Todd Akins of the world did the GOP no favors. White men who seemed to be out of touch with the electorate became equated with what the party stood for. And in the immediacy of today’s news cycle, those kinds of newsmakers hurt the Republicans in critical ways.

Here’s what did win: Truth. Tolerance. Compassion. In the days following, we’ve seen an acknowledgement of that as Republican leaders, like John Boehner, have made more conciliatory remarks about some of the president’s major programs that voters favored—health care and immigration among them. Key to these initiatives is the intangibles of compassion and inclusion. Those are hard messages to get around and it worked in the Democrats’ favor.

We all can take away lessons from Election 2012. Compromise is something voters want. Middle ground and moderates—especially when it comes to social issues—is the way the majority of the country trends. And finally, the country is different now in racial makeup, in priorities and in the direction it’s heading. Politicians would be wise to heed what it is the citizens of this great country want when it comes to representing them.

socrates November 11, 2012 at 11:56 AM
Let's be clear. The margin between winning and losing was very small. Abortion matters more to women than does national security or the economy. That's the take home message.
socrates November 11, 2012 at 11:58 AM
"Here’s what did win: Truth." It did, huh? Food Stamps Surge By Most In Year To New All Time Record; Delayed Release... In 13 Philly wards, Obama received 99% of vote -- or more! St. Lucie Florida had a 140% voter turnout The Petraeus affair was buried until after the election. Hillary won't testify about Benghazi Truth did not win. Truth is dead.
Sean M November 11, 2012 at 01:55 PM
I hope that Patch does not pay for this nonsense. Government does not represent all. The Democrats sell their votes to big business who demand government handouts. Republicans do it to. Your women comment is completely insulting. There were two comments about sex made by Republicans. The first was legitimate rape. The feminists took that way off the deep end. It was a bad choice of words. The second was Mourdock saying that he thought it was God's plan that a raped woman got pregnant. Those of us that believe in God understand exactly what was said. Bad things happen to good people for reasons we do not understand at the time. Understanding it is God's plan helps people get through tough stuff. The real war on women is you feminists telling girls that sleeping around is okay. Telling them take a bunch of pills that alter your body chemistry is somehow okay. Go look at what this sexual liberation has done to society. 40% of kids are born out of wedlock, which is a major predictor to poverty. The divorce rate is over 50%. No one knows how to work in marriage anymore. Why? Because you and your liberal buddies teach people there are no consequences for their actions. If you get pregnant, do not worry, just get rid of it in an abortion. And go demand someone else pay for it. And destroy anyone who believes this is morally wrong. The real losers in this one are the ignorant women who do not understand what they do to themselves.
Sean M November 11, 2012 at 02:04 PM
Single women voted for Obama in strong numbers. No surprise. They are single for a reason. The attitudes that cause them to be single is the same reason why they are liberal leaning. So voters now support marriage equality? Maine, Maryland, and Minnesota barely passed it on ballot, the first time in the USA. These are all liberal states and you are projecting for the nation? Not even close to being accurate. How about all the gay marriage Republicans that lost? Roraback in CT, Tisei in MA, Bono Mack in CA, and the two remaining Republican State Senators in NY. Again more radical left wing bias by you. Obama won because he had a ground game that the Republicans did not. The GOP base hated Romney as shown by the huge increase in third party voting. The country is right of center, but that does not mean that they always vote. As for the Tea Party loses, minus Bachmann, they were redistricted. IL is controlled by the Democrats and Republicans lost 3 seats. How about all the loses by Democrats in Republican controlled states? No mention. West in FL had his district split in two by his own party. That one is still pending as there is serious issues with the integrity. West did not run in the same district he won in 2010. You cannot compare that to anything. But again, why tell the whole truth.
Sean M November 11, 2012 at 02:06 PM
You talk about tolerance, but have none toward socially conservative people. The right to practice religion freely has been taken away. The good news is you and your leftist friends have control of the White House for 4 more years. The failed liberalism will continue. Just look at the mess Obama inherited. He cannot blame Bush anymore. But fear not, you just helped elect a devout communist. You reap what you sow.
practicepeace November 11, 2012 at 02:48 PM
If you can justify that "legitimate" and "rape" should ever be used in the same sentence, then I think you have some serious soul searching to do. And if you are so enlightened as to "understand" how Mourdock saying that he thinks it is "God's plan that a raped woman got pregnant", then perhaps you should receive the outcome of this election, also, as God's plan.
Sean M November 19, 2012 at 09:16 PM
When bad things happen to people, like getting raped, surviving a car accident, being diagnosed with a horrible disease, people look for a reason why. Those who are deeply religious believe it is all God's plan. I would not have said that, but I understand why Mourdock believed it. He lost because that cry baby Dick Lugar did everything he could to undermine him after being thrown out in a primary. My initial reaction to the legitimate rape comment was thinking Akin was referring to people who want an abortion and falsely claim rape. In most states, abortion is still considered a sin. The Left has more work to do. Would I have said that, nope. Is that proper use of language? No. Do Democrats say far worse and the Left and the press ignores it. People who talk in front of people say things that just make no sense. It just happens. The Mourdock and Akin comments never stopped any abortion or anyone from getting one. They are Pro-Life and believe it. On the other hand, you have actions that clearly stink to high heaven. The mural of Obama inside a polling station in Philly, the 100% vote going to Obama in a number of districts. The over 100% vote, in Democrat areas as always. If we had to show a photo ID, had no early voting or same day registration, we would have President Romney. Then again, had the GOP not angered so many conservatives with empty promises, the vote that went third party probably would have made the difference.

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