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The Big Winner of 2012: True Representation

Women. And compromise. And health care. And moderates. And the embrace of 21st century life. Election 2012 showed Republicans that they need to make some major changes to keep up with today.

I'm not writing this because I’m gloating over the results of Election 2012. I'm not writing this because I think “my guy” beat “their guy.”

I'm writing this because I think the election showed us some very important things about the citizens of these United States: 

Our country’s electorate chose to recognize the plurality of all its people and cast their votes in ways to protect the rights of all its citizens. Our country’s electorate chose to promote the idea of governing for the benefit of all citizens rather than the benefit of a few. And our country’s electorate chose to cast the majority of their votes for candidates who ran on a platform of inclusion and compromise against those whose party staked its campaign on religious superiority, intolerance and values from the past century.

On the whole, we learned quite a lot about our country last Tuesday, Nov. 6.

We learned that the country doesn’t take kindly to the restrictions on women and women’s health that many Republican candidates promoted during the campaigns. We saw this in the overwhelming rejection of candidates that not only made outrageous comments about rape and contraception, but also proposed legislation restricting women’s ability to make their own reproductive choices.

Candidates like Todd Akin (of “legitimate rape” fame), Joe Walsh, Scott Brown, Richard Mourdock (who suggested pregnancy after rape is a “gift from God”), Alan West, and others were defeated. An historic mark was made in the Senate—20 women senators will now hold seats in the upper chamber, including the legislative body’s first lesbian senator. Tammy Ducksworth, Clair McCaskill and others won spotlighted, news-making campaigns. Pro-choice candidates (including CT’s Chris Murphy and Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts) received resounding support across the country and women voters cast ballots overwhelmingly—by 38 percent—for Democratic candidates who supported women’s equality measures.

I heard one pundit on the morning after the elections make a pithy, yet incredibly insightful, analysis of what happened during Election 2012 when it came to how the Republican Party positioned itself. Matt Dowd of ABC said, “The Republicans ran a ‘Mad Men’ campaign in a ‘Modern Family’ world.” That couldn’t be more on point.

The election showed us that voters support social issues, like marriage equality and even legalization of marijuana, that are more of today than 50 years ago. When the 18-month debate and election cycle hyped the GOP’s reproductive platform that was not only anti-choice but also seemed to be anti-contraceptive, the country seemed to scratch their collective head at the end point and say, “What century do they think it is?” With states as varied as Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington supporting gay marriage referendums, it seems the country is supporting diversity more and more.

What the country doesn’t seem to support as much is the Tea Party. Five Tea Party candidates lost their runs for seats and the standard bearer—Michele Bachman—managed to only eke out a very tight win. This only highlights another major conclusion from the election: The GOP is highly fractured and needs to reassess its priorities, its leadership and its direction if it’s going to maintain a large enough electorate to represent.

Even in the less extreme sectors of the party, there is recognition that party unity has taken a major hit. Former Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer said that Mitt Romney wasn’t the “spiritual leader” of the party. Former party head Michael Steele and former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani both spoke out about how the Republicans as a whole need to reexamine how to incorporate more moderate views front and center into their party’s platform.

There were other major miscalculations the GOP made, especially when it came to money, and we saw that big money didn’t necessarily equate to big wins. Despite outspending the Democrats, the Republican candidates in key battles lost to the surprise of some party stalwarts. Karl Rove, the high priest of the party, had to come up with every rationalization in the book to explain why the big bucks and his strategy didn’t work—not only to big money donors but to himself—to great embarrassment on live TV while serving as a pundit on the conservative FOX network.

Speaking of overspending and waste, just look what happened to Linda McMahon. In her second failed bid for political office, the Connecticut Republican spent $50 million, this after the first $50 million she spent losing a bid for governor the year before. That’s quite a lot of money to spend on learning that what you stand for isn’t what voters want any more.

The Republicans failed to campaign in a 21st century way. The Democrats took much more advantage of social media platforms, fundraising and incorporating contemporary methods to economize what their less full war chests contained.

Overall, the Republicans miscalculated who would come out to vote and who was important in the electorate. Despite beliefs that the youth vote wouldn’t turn out for President Obama in 2012 like they did in 2008, the opposite happened: the youth vote increased and the overwhelmingly supported the President’s re-election. The enthusiasm amongst women and minority voters was at an all-time high for the Democrats once again.

Sadly, it was reflected in the faces of the Republican candidates and spokespeople out front and center of the party. Donald Trump and the Todd Akins of the world did the GOP no favors. White men who seemed to be out of touch with the electorate became equated with what the party stood for. And in the immediacy of today’s news cycle, those kinds of newsmakers hurt the Republicans in critical ways.

Here’s what did win: Truth. Tolerance. Compassion. In the days following, we’ve seen an acknowledgement of that as Republican leaders, like John Boehner, have made more conciliatory remarks about some of the president’s major programs that voters favored—health care and immigration among them. Key to these initiatives is the intangibles of compassion and inclusion. Those are hard messages to get around and it worked in the Democrats’ favor.

We all can take away lessons from Election 2012. Compromise is something voters want. Middle ground and moderates—especially when it comes to social issues—is the way the majority of the country trends. And finally, the country is different now in racial makeup, in priorities and in the direction it’s heading. Politicians would be wise to heed what it is the citizens of this great country want when it comes to representing them.

Editor's note: A second installment about Election Day results will be posted tomorrow under Lisa Bigelow's "Patch Back" column.

Jeff November 10, 2012 at 12:33 PM
To continue on this "women's rights" issue. Even if an administration wanted to touch that 3rd rail issue of abortion that Mitt Romney does not have the power to overturn Roe v. Wade. It would take the US Supreme Court to decide to hear a case questioning the merits of abortion and that they would have to decide to overturn it. At that point the issue would return to the states under the 10th Amendment (that would be the Amendment that you on the left have no tolerance for i.e. the Arizona immigration bill). Each of the states would institute their own decisions and here in the Neon Blue states of the northeast, not a damn thing would change. This issue of immigration I take great personal offense to and I believe any person who has their head in the light of day would agree. To sum the entire issue up in a concise conclusion let me say this, we are talking about people who are breaking the law. Period, case closed! But since you on the left don't comprehend that than let's talk. We are a nation of the rule of law, correct? Where does anyone get off, especially already citizens who support this nonsense, believe that amnesty is a good thing that will solve the issue once and for all? Heather you're probably too young and certainly too naive but Reagan did amnesty in 1986. Did the borders suddenly close and people start waiting in line to come here legally? Big fat NO! And why is it that it's only about the left's favorite country of Mexico?
Jeff November 10, 2012 at 12:44 PM
Are there not other countries of the world who have citizens that would like to immigrate here? As I said I take great personal offense to this issue. My wife is a LEGAL immigrant from a 3rd world country who's father came over 10 years ahead to save some money to send for her and her mother. My wife then legally attained a green card and waited the 5-6 years to become a citizen, an absolutely beautiful ceremony done in a court of law. That's sacrifice Heather and you talk to someone like my wife and their blood boils over this notion that all the rules should be waived and all these people just get a clean slate as if they never did anything wrong. Preposterous! And as I said, why is Mexico the left's favorite country? I know you're not that ignorant Heather but I also know you'd never say it either but they vote Democrat. That's the simple fact! And how offensive is this notion of money and spending on the election? Wasn't the Obama campaign going to spend $1 billion dollars? I'm not sure what that number wound up. As far as Linda McMahon or any other candidate with money (oh btw Heather, go look up the net worth of the candidate who ran against Michele Bachmann) where do you think that money goes? I have a relative who works in a print shop. They are incredibly busy during an election. Money doesn't go into thin air, it creates and sustains jobs. You know, Joe Biden's 3 letter word.
Jeff November 10, 2012 at 01:01 PM
Here's what happened Heather and to all you other gloating leftists. You all made the same idiotic mistake for a second time and the country as a whole will pay dearly. All us conservatives will be here for another 4 years and likely indefinitely to point out how and why, with facts and evidence, why liberal ideology is so destructive. Mitt Romney ran a campaign on getting the nation's fiscal house off the edge of the cliff not on banning gynecologists or the hate of anyone with brown skin. Your President at no time during the campaign ran on anything that he accomplished. Look all around you, yes and you women too. Do you all buy gas? Do you own a home that isn't worth what it was several years ago? Is the unemployment rate better or worse for women, blacks, hispanics under Obama? Is the national debt $10 trillion dollars or has it increased to $16 trillion during the last 4 years? Are even the Medicare actuaries saying the system is unsustainable? How about SS? Has anyone even yet read the 3000 page health bill? Does anyone realize the cost and implications that the bill will have with full implementation in 2014 (how convenient after the election) or the implications it already is having that folks like myself in the healthcare industry see and understand? Is the Middle East more or less stable? Is Iran closer or further from a nuclear bomb and are their fighter jets firing on our drones? I believe that elephant in the room has a name, it's Libya.
Jeff November 10, 2012 at 01:14 PM
Here's what hasn't been tried in a very long time America, conservatism, the rule of law, accountability, the rewarding of success all of which are given equally to every last citizen. Go ahead and ask anyone who's come here from some far off hell hole. Is this the kindest and most gentlest country on the face of the Earth that offers the opportunity of the pursuit of happiness? Ask anyone who knows how to balance a check book if it's possible to switch out that word pursuit for guarantee? Ask anyone who thinks otherwise if anyone is stopping them from leaving and if they are aware of that fact why they stay anyway? You're right on one concept and one concept only Heather, the Republican party does have to change because as much as you think your guy and party has a compromising bone in their body, as much as our "leaders" have thrown up the white flag of compromise, Obama won't. The only alternative is to find someone or some people who can coherently articulate the message of conservatism as one that offers opportunity to all and that government is not there to swaddle you throughout a life of dependency. That's a mammoth challenge when fought against pervasive ignorance, naivete, misleading and false talking points, and a disgustingly liberal media. Sadly, even with the facts all around us.
Dina Cawthra Garrow November 10, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Amen, Jeff. Why can't you write a column for Shelton Patch instead of this idiot? And yes, I'm a woman saying that.

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