The lessons the GOP should learn from this election… but won’t
1. Losing ground in an election that was theirs to win is not a mandate.
John Boehner claimed a Republican mandate; considering his party failed to capture the White House, lost ground in the Senate, and at best will only manage to hold the line in the House, that’s among the more ludicrous things said by any politician and indicates self delusion matched only by Baghdad Bob. If the American public issued a mandate, it was that it’s time to grow up and go to work, and that a Republican policy position of “NO!” is no longer tenable. Since most of the victims have been freshman teabaggers, you’d think that would be an easy lesson to learn, but Republican knee-jerk obstructionism goes deep, and American patience has its limits. The only Republican who came out well from all this is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
2. Demographics change
Even if they get away with their policy of “NO!”, time is going to cut their base out from under them. They’ve been living on borrowed time on Nixon’s Southern Strategy, which relied on white anger against the Civil Rights movement to turn the Solid South for the Democrats into the Solid South for the Republicans. The old South is changing, though, and the last generations that were born and raised in the segregated South are not going to be around that much longer. Look at the broad swathe of blue through the South in the county results; Dixie is fractured right up the middle, and with the growth of a minority-majority America, that crack is only going to become a fissure, and then a canyon, into which all GOP electoral hopes will fall. Virginia’s a full-blown swing state now, and North Carolina’s on the edge. Considering the GOP’s substantial voter gap with Hispanic Americans, it won’t be long before Florida is reliably blue and Texas is a swing state. If the GOP doesn’t reach out past tokenism, and doesn’t change track from its elitism, it’s going to be reduced to a minority party of the mountain states and high plains.
3. We are electing politicians, not priests.
The Republicans’ reliance on the laissez-faire economic Libertarians taking advantage of Talebangelical right-wing “christians” is on shaky ground. The free marketeers have been dealt a major setback with Romney’s defeat, which is going to open the way for one of the religious extremists grab for nomination in 2016. And that candidate is going to go down to an epic defeat, because he or she will be so monumentally out of sync with where the country actually is. Keep in mind that the fastest-growing belief segment is ‘none of the above’ — not just atheists and agnostics, but various non-Christians, and the spiritual but not church-bound, who number about 20% in all as of last counting, and most of whom feel alienated by the GOP’s narrow-minded religious extremism. So if the Republicans run someone in the mold of a Santorum or Bachman, all the Democrat will have to do is have a pulse, and not drool on camera. Personally, I’d welcome that — it would send the party to the wilderness for a decade or so, and they might come back having learned some humility.