SALT LAKE CITY, November 7, 2012 — President Barack Obama should be congratulated. The nay saying about a lack of a mandate, his cynical campaign tone, and diminished electoral support will all be overshadowed by his utterly decisive victory.
Republicans are reeling on so many levels.
First, they are scratching their heads about how such an accomplished man as Mitt Romney could have lost to a president with such a burdensome record.
Whatever one thinks about the causes of our nation’s problems, there can be no doubt that Obama has not done much to fix them so far, at least in the short term.
Unemployment is high, the debt is large and growing, and things do not seem to be improving all that fast.
Nevertheless, he overcame all that and drubbed his GOP challenger.
Second, Republicans are wondering if they are doomed. Just a few years ago, Karl Rove was talking about a “permanent Republican majority.” A long, hard assessment of GOP strategy and policy lies ahead, but a consensus is beginning to form around the fear that this was their last shot for a while, with demographic trends favoring Obama’s Democratic Party.
The day after a massive electoral loss is often the hardest, but Republicans are rightly concerned that they may not be able to regroup.
Finally, from the death-match among all of the pundits and prognosticators fighting over the data, both empirical and anecdotal, a winner was declared. The Democrats were right. It might be tempting for conservatives to think that Obama got lucky, that the hurricane pushed Obama over the line, that a few speeches or messages made a slight difference in key states.
But it is nonsense, or at least irrelevant. When the results were tallied, the president mirrored what Nate Silver and his acolytes had been saying all along. Almost as much as Republican voters wanted Obama to lose, they wanted the liberal punditocracy to be wrong.
They weren’t. They saw the race more clearly from the beginning, and Republicans will have to own that, and figure it out.
The reelection of Barack Obama was a stinging defeat for a reviving Republican Party. Under the most improbable of circumstances, the president won after a hard fought campaign.
There are very few silver linings for the opposition party. But Democrats be warned, there are some pitfalls ahead. While the president was able to convince Americans that he didn’t deserve the blame for our economic troubles, his grace period is quickly coming to an end.
And if Republicans act more defiant in Washington, it will be because they are out of options. The president once again rose to lofty rhetoric about coming together in his victory speech, and he needs to realize that congressional conservatives represent real people who have real concerns about what their government is doing.
If the president and Harry Reid isolate Republicans in Congress further, they will have little incentive to cooperate.
Most of what conservatives are saying now is genuinely reflective and honest. Whether the Republican Party can regroup and play a productive role in American politics over the next four years depends on whether the GOP can address the questions and concerns head on.
Until then, pass the crow.
Rich is a teacher and a soldier. In addition to writing the “Rich Like Me” political column at the Washington Times Communities, he is the author of Nine Weeks: A Teacher’s Education in Army Basic Training; Tunnel Club; and Not Another Boring Textbook: A High School Students’ Guide to their Inner Conservative.
He writes about Salt Lake City and the World in the Food and Travel section.
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