The results of yesterday’s elections were actually cast two years ago when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) stated that the Republicans’ priority for the next two years was to ensure that Barack Obama was a one-term president. Instead of “now we have a majority in the House of Representatives, our bargaining hand is better and we can negotiate from strength,” he said, “my way, or else, the country be damned.” And he and his counterparts in the House set about to obstruct pretty much everything on President Obama’s agenda.
In the end, that’s what the people voted on yesterday all across this great land of ours. They voted against extremism, against the Tea Party, against hubris, against obstructionism. The Republicans believed that this would be a vote against Barack Obama; that they had been successful in weakening the administration to the point that all they had to do was say “look, America, the President and his party have done nothing to move us forward. It’s all their fault; let us back in power and we’ll save the day!” HA!
Nearly every battleground state fell to the Democrats, and not necessarily by small margins: Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota, New Hampshire (which I think surprised a lot of people), Ohio, Pennsylvania, Nevada. One after one, the states said “no” to the extremist agenda of the new Republicans. They said no to Todd Aiken in Missouri; they said no to Richard Mourdock in Indiana. They said “no” to Allen West in Florida.
The voters in many states had buyers’ remorse over the 2010 mid-terms, and when the Republicans nominated even more extremists this go-round, the people finally said “no.” Had the Republicans only not substituted the right wing Richard Mourdock for moderate Richard Lugar, they might well have held on to that Indiana senate seat.
But even Republican “moderates” paid last night for their too frequent willingness over the past two years to forsake principle for party. To forsake the American people for the sake of toppling a president for no other reason than he’s not “one of them.” In Massachusetts, that happend to Scott Brown in his senate bid, and in my own Illinois congressional district where moderate Republican Bob Dold lost to Brad Schneider in the hotly contested 10th Congressional District, sending a Democrat to the House for the first time in 32 years.
I have a good friend who happens to be a right-leaning Independent. She sometimes votes red, sometimes blue. This was a red year for her; 2008, a blue year. She texted me last night around midnight, furious with the Republicans, furious with FOX news. “They need to have a serious re-think,” she told me, “if they don’t want to soon become irrelevant as a party.”
Take a look around you, Republicans. I know you want to take us back to the glory days of the 1950s when everything was right with the world; when women were seen and not heard, and men wore the pants in the family. When homosexuality was a subject best left in the closet and under the rug, and immigrants to this country were who your grandparents were, and not your next door neighbors. When the world was large the enemy was an obvious “them.”
The world has changed, and seemingly over night. All you have to do is look at the referenda and propositions that passed in last night’s decisive victory. Just two years ago, a marriage equality proposition was a Democrat killer on any ballot; last night, marriage equality is now a reality in several new states. Two states passed laws legalizing marijuana for recreational use. And the Tea Party agenda can now (hopefully) slink off to where it belongs, as a dark and minor footnote in American history.
We are a nation of the center — center left at times, center right at others. And the Democrats seem to get that more than the Republicans do right now. The question is, will the Republicans continue to delude themselves as FOX News seemed to last night? Only time will tell. I can’t wait to hear Minority Leader McConnell’s first words. But there is nothing to suggest that he will do anything other than what he’s done the past two years: to use the filibuster as a bludgeon to obstruct and hold the will of the people — the majority — hostage.
Whatever Senator McConnell says, Vice President Biden’s response must be to change the Senate filibuster rules on the very first day in session. Because the days of the minority holding the country hostage are over. The American people spoke last night, loudly and clearly.