Wednesday, November 7, 2012

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Forward

The Democratic Party's slogan for the 2012 elections now ironically becomes
the operating word for the immediate future of the national Republican
Party.

The presidential election result came as a surprise to many observers (myself
included), Republican voters and conservative political activists. There will
now be an extended post-mortem by the political pathologists on all sides, and
not a few recriminations, might-have-beens, and I-told-you-sos by self-styled
conservative theoreticians. Democrats, being Democrats, will have a difficult
time not to rub it in.

Since I do not belong to any political party, and I did not attend medical school
(as my father did), I am not going to attempt to dissect what happened yesterday.
(At least not here and now.)

But I am going to talk about what happens next for the Republican Party,
the Democratic Party and the nation.

Yesterday, the incumbent president of the United States won a clear but very
narrow re-election. The voting was notably diminished from 2008 both in the
popular vote and in the margin of the electoral vote.

At the same time, the Democrats fared remarkably well in the U.S. senate
races, picking up a net of two seats. They now control the U.S. senate 55-45.

Simultaneously, the Republicans kept clear control of the U.S. House, losing
only a relative few seats in an election following their winning 60-plus seats
from the Democrats only two years before.

Finally, the Republicans had a gain of one governorship even though they
already controlled many more than their opposition party. There are now 30
GOP governors.

The fundamental position of the Republican brand at the congressional and
state level was essentially not affected by the 2012 election. Voters have
indicated that they want conservative government and representation close
to home. (There were exceptions to this, such as in Minnesota.) A look at the
map reveals that the GOP is a more national party, albeit a rural and suburban
party outside the South. The Democrats are now primarily an urban party.

Going forward, the prospects for the two parties are quite different. The
national governing party, the Democrats, and their president face formidable
problems at home and abroad. They will now be expected to deliver
practical solutions to those problems and quickly. The national opposition
party, the Republicans, will need to come up with alternatives of their own,
proposed through the U.S. house of representatives and by GOP leaders,
that are credible and acceptable to a majority of the nation.

In only two years, a mid-term election will take place, and it will be
primarily a plebiscite on the Obama administration's second term. The last
such mid-term in 2010 was a disaster for the Democrats. It certainly won't be
George W. Bush's fault this time.

Obamacare now obviously won't be repealed. It's details, regulations and
consequences will now collide with the health care market and the public
pocketbook. These prospects, I believe, are grim, notwithstanding any of the
genuine reforms Obamacare also brings.

The relationship of the United States to the rest of the world, including our
allies, our foes, and the many nations which are neither, is at a critical
moment. A worldwide economic downturn affects all, including China
which has been providing us with bail money. Violence and repression
is increasing across the globe. Great natural disasters occur with an
unpredictable frequency.

In 2014, similar to 2012, many more Democratic than Republican U.S.
senate seats are up for election.  Some incumbents from both parties will
retire. (Six each from the two parties are from 70 to 90 years old.) The 13
Republican seats, however, are in super-solid GOP state (except for a very
popular incumbent in Maine), and unless this party repeats its inexcusable
past mistake of nominating weirdo candidates, they are unlikely to lose any
of these. (That does not mean, as we learned in 2012 that they won't!) The
Democrats, on the other hand, have 19 incumbent seats, and at least 10 of
them, including probable retirements, are potentially vulnerable. This time
there will not be a presidential election to cover for them; in fact, the
president (as he was in 2010) could be their main problem.

The other side of the coin is the possibility that Barack Obama will finally
point himself to the political center, genuinely compromise with the
Republicans in the U.S. house, and roll up his sleeves to resolve our
economic difficulties. He has not done this in the past, but the enormity
of our economic problems could move him to do this. If he does not, it's
stalemate until 2014. The victories of today, as those in 2008, could quickly
turn into political nightmares.

We will now see who, if anyone, goes forward, and not in reverse.

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Copyright (c) 2012 by Barry Casselman.     All rights reserved.


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