Election 2012

Rush's Dream Journal

Republicans drifted through much of 2012 in trickle-down fantasyland, self-deporting to a mystical world where Mitt Romney's rightward shift during the primary helped their candidate. Election Day shook the party awake, forcing Republicans to reckon with their purity problem. Louisiana Governor and 2016 wannabe Bobby Jindal disavowed Romney's they-just-want-gifts comment all last week, and the Sunday shows featured a barrage of Republicans disparaging the man they had envisioned as president.

Anti-Testing: Unlikely Common Ground?

(Flick/ cliff1066â„¢)

At first glance, the 2012 elections didn’t seem to have much bearing on education policies. After all, the fundamental debates around schools—whether to increase the role of testing, merit pay, charter schools, and school choice—are, for the most part, outside the realm of partisan politics. Among both Democratic and Republican leadership, there’s a fair amount of consensus in the self-proclaimed reform agenda, which seeks to make schools more like a marketplace and relies on testing to offer metrics for success. It’s the one area where the parties seem to agree.

The Great Society's Next Frontier

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

As The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein declared shortly after voters re-elected President Barack Obama, one of the major winners last week was health-care reform. With Democrats holding on to the Senate and the White House, Republicans will be unable to repeal the law before all of its provisions go into effect in 2014—after which, the theory goes, the public will come to accept that government has the responsibility to ensure health care is available for all. 

This is the end of a long battle for progressives: Health care has been the major missing piece of our welfare state for nearly a century, and for decades making it a part of our system of social insurance has been a primary goal of politicians, think tanks, and activists. With this piece of the progressive puzzle in place, the natural question to ask is, What’s next for the welfare state?

One useful way of thinking broadly about what the welfare state should provide comes from Lane Kenworthy, a sociologist and political scientist at Arizona State University. According to Kenworthy, the welfare state should accomplish three things: It should act as a safety net, providing a basic level of security for the poor and protecting citizens from sharp declines in income or unanticipated expenses; like a springboard, it should create opportunities for upward mobility; and, like an escalator, it should ensure that living standards rise across the board as the economy grows. Below are ways that liberals could fix the holes in the current safety net, expand opportunity, and make sure a growing economy benefits everyone.

Nobody's Fault but Their Own

(Flickr/George Allen for Senate)

If there was anything Republicans should have been surprised about in this month’s elections, it was their rout in the Senate. Not only did Republicans lose races against vulnerable Democratic incumbents in GOP leaning states—Missouri, Florida, Montana—but they also lost almost every competitive open race and failed to hold a vacant one in Indiana.

Nationalizing the Vote?

I want to thank every American who participated in this election whether you voted for the very first time or waited in line for a very long time—by the way, we have to fix that," President Obama said as he kicked off his victory speech last week by throwing a bone to the liberals who spent much of the past year fighting Republican efforts to restrict voting rights. The laws didn't end up tipping the final results but certainly disenfranchised scores of voters and created a needless hassle for others across the country. In Northern Virginia, long lines forced voters to wait three hours past the time polls were set to close, while in Florida voters rushed to vote the weekend before the election to take advantage of the reduced early-voting window.

Putting Faith in the Conservative Creed

(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

As Democrats continue to bask in the post-election schadenfreude of watching Republicans weep and gnash their teeth at losing the presidential election, the sense that conservatives are the architects of their own misery is only enhancing liberal glee. It seems the initial shock hasn’t warn off: In a conference call with his fundraising team, Mitt Romney is still blaming his loss on those freeloading Americans who wanted stuff.

When Majorities Don't Mean Control

(Flickr/ johan weiland)

In the Empire State, winning elections doesn’t always translate into power it seems. Next year, Democrats will likely have a majority of seats in the state’s upper chamber. But they aren’t likely to control it. It’s one of the stranger outcomes of the latest election.

Republicans Return Romney's "Gift"

Today's Ringside Seat: The Republicans have abandoned their presidential candidate, but imagine great things for the VP pick.

After kowtowing to every conservative whim during the presidential campaign, Mitt Romney could have eased into retirement, maintaining the moderate, nice-guy image he cultivated during the final month of the campaign. Alas, rich uncle moneybags needed to bash the 47 percent on his way out the door. "The president’s campaign focused on giving targeted groups a big gift," Romney said Wednesday on a conference call with his donors, portraying African Americans, Hispanics, women, and young voters as moneygrubbers whose votes were up for sale. His post-election takeaway squashes any lingering doubts about who the real Mitt is. For Pete's sake, he's no longer running for office, so we can stop wondering whether the 47 percent video represented his true beliefs.

The President We Hoped For?

We’re about to find out, in the “fiscal cliff” negotiations, whether President Obama plans to govern the way he ran for re-election—and whether, as a result, he just might become the kind of president liberals hoped he’d be in the first place. The single most surprising thing about the 2012 campaign (unless you’re a Republican still shell-shocked over the outcome) was that the “man from Kumbaya” completely rejected the Bill Clinton re-election model. It was the polar opposite of triangulation: This time, the Democratic incumbent won with a resonant message of liberal populism.

47 Percent, Part 2

Flickr/Austen Hufford

Earlier in the week I wrote about the increasing conservative complaint that too many Americans are mooching off the labors of genuine hard-working job creators. Well now Mitt Romney himself has extended this analysis to the ballot box, telling his big donors in a post-election conference call that the reason he lost was, essentially, that Barack Obama bought off those moochers with promises of free stuff. When the 47 percent video came out, I couldn't have been the only one who wondered just how many times he had delivered that riff; it seems unlikely it was the first and last time he said it. But now the election's over, and he isn't stopping. Romney seems appalled that Obama would be so diabolical as to pursue policies that were beneficial to people who then went to the polls to vote for him. It's worth quoting at length:

Romney Says He Lost Because Obama Gave "Gifts" to Blacks and Latinos

When the “47 percent” video first hit, there was a question as to whether this was the “real Romney,” or someone pandering to the prejudices of the Republican donor class. If you stepped away from the passion of moment, you could easily see a scenario where Romney felt that it was in his best interest to adopt another bit of right-wing rhetoric, for the sake of cash and support.

Is Mitch McConnell the Worst?

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

I think most people can agree that Kentucky's Mitch McConnell is one of the most innovative Senate Minority Leaders in recent memory. His insight—that the opposition party can obstruct and force the majority party to bear the public’s discontent—helped give Republicans a House majority in 2010, and gave the GOP a fighting chance in this year’s presidential election (see: Mitt Romney’s late-game promise to bring bipartisanship to Washington).

Yes, This Is a Post about 2016.

Who knows - it could be him. (Flickr/dsb nola)

Yes, this is a post about the 2016 presidential race. Before you turn away, I'm going to say loud and proud that despite all the people crying "I can't wait until this is over!" in the last few weeks, despite the Bronco Bama girl, despite the torture endured by the citizens of Ohio, I am sorry the election is over. Sort of, anyway. Why? Because I write about politics for a living. When the World Series ends, we don't expect sportswriters to say, "I sure am glad that's over!" So yes, even though in the coming months and years I'll be writing a lot about policy, I'm also going to write about politics, including upcoming elections. Deal with it.

Now that that's off my chest, Benjy Sarlin makes an interesting observation about the suddenly moderating Republicans who are publicly saying their party has to find a way to be more friendly to more kinds of people if it wants to win back the White House in 2016: "It's hard to believe now, but the popular punditry [after the 2008 election] — as now — was that Republicans needed to moderate their policies and tone to compete with Obama. Several Republicans considered likely presidential candidates made big bets on this new era of bipartisanship and went bust." The ones who took a stance of implacable opposition ended up leading their party, none more so than Mitt Romney. So is the same thing going to happen over the next four years?

Probably, yes.

Is the Religious Right in Trouble?

Pat Robertson, possibly fending off a hurricane. (Flickr/Daniel Oines)

If we're going to count the losers of the 2012 election, the religious right has to be high on the list. Its members said they would turn out in extraordinary numbers to fight that infidel in the White House, but Ralph Reed's turnout push fizzled. Gay marriage is now legal in three more states than it was on November 5, with more sure to come. In response, some on the religious right are wondering whether this politics thing just isn't working out for them. It isn't that they failed to get their message out, said influential religious-right quote machine Albert Mohler of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, "it's that the entire moral landscape has changed. ... An increasingly secularized America understands our positions and has rejected them."

We've heard this kind of thing before, and Ed Kilgore warns that the religious right's stranglehold on the Republican Party hasn't lessened at all:

Who Counts in Arizona?

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Arizona Democrats celebrate as President Barack Obama is declared the winner of the presidential race at Democratic Party gathering, Tuesday, November 6, 2012, in Tucson, Arizona. 

Pages