Election night was a good night for moderates.
It was a bad night for conservatives.
It was the worst night for partisanship.
Steve Schmidt, Sen. John McCain’s campaign manager of 2008, in an interview a few days after that election, said, “The Republican Party wants to, needs to be able to represent, you know, not only conservatives, but centrists as well. And the party that controls the center is the party that controls the American electorate.
The Republican Party should have listened to Schmidt. Instead, they catered to its far-right conservative and libertarian base, a mere 20 percent of the electorate. The Republican base is out of step with an America that is emerging into a 21st century destiny as a broader, multicultural, diverse, yet united nation.
But the Republicans, led primarily by the legendary GOP political strategist Karl Rove, devised a strategy of alienating and obstructing this emerging majority.
For the last four years, Rove, along with many of his allies, pursued a slash-and-burn strategy that was clothed in the language of bipartisanship, but had as its core objective a “severely conservative” divide-and-conquer agenda.
President Obama, a pragmatist, found himself having to deal with two major political parties that are becoming more extreme, ideological and rigid in their agendas. Political scientists, pollsters and political veterans are aware that moderate voters gathered in the middle under the label of “independents,” while both parties moved toward opposite extremes.
Obama has kept a firm hand steering his presidency in moderation, even while being portrayed as “European,” (Mitch McConnell), “Kenyan” (Newt Gingrich), communist and/or fascist or criminal (Rush Limbaugh), even while fending off liberals in his own party who felt him too uncomfortably close to some Bush Administration policies.
Yet for every move to the left that the Democratic Congress took, the Republicans took five steps to the right. “Governor, the ’80s are calling,” Obama said to Mitt Romney in the second debate. “They want their foreign policy back.” Obama could also have said, “The 1880s are calling; they want their robber baron policies back.”
During the GOP primaries, Mitt Romney chose to cater to the Republican base, which consists mostly of white, anti-immigrant, anti-labor, anti-women, anti-gay, business-oriented males, who believe the economic elite drive America’s economy. After securing the nomination, Romney attempted to move to the middle in language, while still advocating conservative policies. By so doing, Romney created personal distrust as a man who would say or do anything to get elected. This became public opinion -— even among Republicans — as measured by polling. Trust became a central issue.
Romney succeeded only in carrying those states where mostly white, socially conservative, middle-aged and elderly Americans live. Obama, by contrast, expanded his coalition of Hispanics, African-Americans, women, youth, middle-class and blue-collar whites — the latter voters being a singular success in Ohio, where he saved auto workers’ jobs along with their industry. It was Ohio and other Midwestern Rust Belt states that put Obama into the winner’s column.
“We are an American family and we rise or fall together as one nation and as one people,” Obama said on Election Night. The American family now includes growing minority groups that will become the majority by 2050, according to projections. Obama captured 75 percent of the Hispanic vote; even garnering 47 percent of the Cuban-American vote in Florida, which traditionally votes Republican.
Now pundits are saying Obama, while re-elected, achieved no mandate. Yet Obama carried 50.4 percent of the popular vote as of Nov. 7. Compare that to George W. Bush’s 50.7 percent of the popular vote in 2004 — a percentage he said earned him “political capital” that he was going to spend.
Elections change things. The changes are not always visible immediately. This election is every bit as important as both candidates said it would be. Voters faced a choice between a Republican Party that has become increasingly exclusionary, ideological and immoderate, and the Democratic Party that Obama has been expanding and pulling to the center.
The choice was made, and however slim, it constitutes a mandate. For the direction we are heading, we should listen carefully to Obama’s election night speech:
“We want our children to live in an America that isn’t burdened by debt, that isn’t weakened by inequality, that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet. We want to pass on a country that’s safe and respected and admired around the world. ...
“We believe in a generous America, in a compassionate America, in a tolerant America, open to the dreams of an immigrant’s daughter who studies in our schools and pledges to our flag. To the young boy on the south side of Chicago who sees a life beyond the nearest street corner. To the furniture worker’s child in North Carolina who wants to become a doctor or a scientist, an engineer or an entrepreneur, a diplomat or even a president — that’s the future we hope for. That’s the vision we share. That’s where we need to go — forward. That’s where we need to go.”
(Donna Brazile is a senior Democratic strategist, a political commentator and contributor to CNN and ABC News.)
Election night was a good night for moderates.
Hood’s ‘open carry’ ruling strikes important balances
Attorney General Jim Hood’s office issued an opinion this week that went a long way toward establishing some order and applying some common sense to what has become a contentious and confusing debate both for proponents and opponents of free exercise of the Second Amendment.
House Bill 2, which becomes law July 1, was authored and led to passage by state Rep. Andy Gipson, R-Braxton. Gipson has told the press that he believed the legislation was necessary to clearly define what a concealed weapon is under the law and to distinguish between “concealed carry” and “open carry” rights. But many law enforcement officers charged with enforcing the state’s “concealed carry” law and other contradictory statutes, the bill created some confusion and Hood’s AG opinion brought some clarity to the ongoing debate.
The Loss of Trust
Amid all the heated cross-currents of debate about the National Security Agency’s massive surveillance program, there is a growing distrust of the Obama administration that makes weighing the costs and benefits of the NSA program itself hard to assess. The belated recognition of this administration’s contempt for the truth, for the American people and for the Constitution of the United States, has been long overdue.
- Vocability Words can be both familiar and extremely confusing when taken from their usual context. Ask any wine enthusiast about legs, fat or bricks and they may assume you are speaking “Vinonese.” Ok — I made that word up; but the language of wine does indeed include legs, fat and brix which have entirely different meanings from what you might assume. Working with definitions from http://www.wineschool.com/vocabulary.html, try your basic knowledge of “Vinonese.”
- Vocability Words can set a tone for a situation, alter someone’s perception of an individual or group — in short, there is power in them. The Bible cautions, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue...” — Proverbs in 18:21, ASB. With that in mind, I will be focusing on words, some recently used and some obscure, to test the readers and build on what you already know. There will be theme weeks, for instance next week will focus on words involving wine — for no particular reason! So try your vocabulary skills with the following and see how you score. I’m always open to suggestions for material.
A hard rain is gonna fall...
By Kathryn Jean Lopez/Syndicated columnist
After disappearing during his term in office and bringing scandal to his family and state, former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford is going to Washington, having won election to Congress. And that’s far from the worst story reflecting the current character of our nation.
Not your mother’s Ladies’ Home Journal
By Rheta Grimsely Johnson/Syndicated columnist
I haven’t seen the Ladies’ Home Journal in about a million years, except maybe in the dentist’s office when I was trying to avoid a television permanently set on Fox News.
Somebody’s grandchild was selling magazines for a school project, and Ladies’ Home Journal was the only one on the list I recognized. Now it comes to the house.
Let’s just say: It’s not my mother’s Ladies’ Home Journal. This month, right behind a feature called “A Country of People Who Never Stop Eating” is one called “Nice Girls Do Get Tattoos.”
Health care market needs oversight
By Gene Lyons/Syndicated columnist
Sometimes the best journalism explains what’s right under our noses. In Steven Brill’s exhaustive Time magazine cover article, “Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us,” it’s the staggeringly expensive, grotesquely inefficient and inhumane way Americans pay for medical care.
VA’s appalling failures not recent
By Sid Salter/Syndicated columnist
While recent national press attention to ongoing problems at Mississippi’s G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery Veterans Administration Medical Center in Jackson is welcome and needed, the failures of the overall VA service apparatus in Mississippi are not recent problems.
In short, former U.S. Rep. Sonny Montgomery — Mississippi’s “Mr. Veteran” and author of the modern G.I. Bill that bears his name — must be spinning in his grave. There have been significant failures and poor service to veterans documented by state and local media since 2008.
Dolley Madison politically savvy
By Cokie and Steven V. Roberts/Syndicated columnists
When Dolley Payne Madison became first lady in 1809, she instituted Wednesday evening gatherings at the White House where political rivals could meet and talk. They were called “squeezes” because so many people showed up and crowded the room. As Cokie wrote in her book “Ladies of Liberty": “All were welcome as long as they were appropriately dressed. And all went — skipping a Wednesday night might mean missing a vital piece of political information or being left out of a crucial deal.”
Mississippi isn’t immune from national college tuition trends
By Sid Salter/Syndicated columnist
Higher education in Mississippi has not been immune from national trends cited in a recent Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report which concludes that over the last five years, the global economic downturn and a “no new taxes” political climate have increasingly shifted the burden of higher education finance to students and parents at a time when enrollment is increasing and the percentage of state support is decreasing.
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- Hood’s ‘open carry’ ruling strikes important balances