Ten things we may have learned from the 2012 elections:
1. The culture war is over. For real. GOP strategist Karl Rove needs to tear that chapter from his playbook and burn it in the nearest fireplace. The tired old tactics of the Far Right to demonize LGBT Americans and minorities no longer work. Just look at the ballot box on Nov. 6 for proof.
2. America reaffirms that it is a progressive nation. The Democrats understand the rapidly changing demographics of the populace, and embrace multiculturalism, inclusiveness and tolerance. The Republicans continue to shrink into the party of grumpy old men … mostly white Southern “good ol’ boys” who don’t like change.
3. Saying “I do” to marriage equality. For the first time ever, marriage measures win at the ballot box. Maine, Maryland and Washington state voters approve marriage equality, and Minnesotans refuse to approve a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Not only that, Iowa voters retain a state Supreme Court justice who voted in favor of marriage equality in that Midwestern state in 2009. Democrats held on their majority in the Iowa Senate, so same-sex marriage will continue in the Hawkeye State. The turning point may have been earlier this year when Obama endorsed marriage equality, the first President to do so, and it reflects the majority view of the American public.
4. The declining influence of anti-gay hate groups. The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the anti-gay hate group whose only goal is to prevent gay and lesbian couples from marrying, went 0-for-5 on Tuesday night. After pouring millions of dollars into Maine, Maryland, Washington and Iowa, NOM came away empty-handed and in denial about the ballot results. Brian Brown, NOM’s president, found the unique excuses that they lost in “liberal states” and were outspent. In reality, NOM continues to skirt the law, refuses to identify its donors despite legal requirements to do so, and ignores the change sweeping over America. Homophobia was a big loser on Tuesday night.
5. The U.S. Supreme Court will soon lose its conservative bent. The 2012 election will end up changing the face of the Supreme Court. Several of the justices are elderly and looking to retire, so President Barack Obama will be making those appointments, subject to Senate approval, over the next four years. Chief Justice John Roberts, a middle-aged conservative appointed by President George W. Bush, likely has already seen the writing on the wall. His was the deciding vote in keeping Obamacare, and some legal observers think he will continue to tack toward the middle on many issues. Obama appointees Sonia M. Sotomayor and Elena Kagan bring both a female perspective and a progressive worldview to the nation’s high court. Future appointees will likely shape the Roberts court as centrist, much more in tune with the nation’s population.
6. The LGBT community boosts its voting clout. Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), said Wednesday in a national teleconference call that LGBT Americans who self-identify in exit polls grew from 4% in 2008 to 5% in 2012. This is huge. This voting block was overwhelmingly in support of Obama, voting 70% for the Democrat in 2008 and 77% in 2012. On a side note, those figures match closely with the informal SDGLN Poll in which 82% of our readers said they voted for Obama this year. Some political pundits credited the LGBT community for helping to put Obama over the top in some key swing states, along with other minority groups and women. What these numbers also tell you: Log Cabin Republicans and GOProud, two rival LGBT groups desperately trying to get their voice heard in the Republican Party, are largely irrelevant. And until the Republican Party ceases being homophobic, these two groups will not be able to grow their numbers.
7. The youth vote counts, too. The myth that younger voters are blasé has been shot down over the past two presidential elections. Younger voters are motivated and active in politics, and they are socially progressive. They were key on the grass-roots level in helping Obama win both elections.
8. Haters should crawl back under their rocks. GOP spokesmen like John Sununu and nut jobs like Donald Trump used thinly veiled racism to attack America’s first black President. The GOP slandered Obama on every turn, calling him a Kenyan, Socialist, Communist, dictator, a hater of America, and every other slur they could muster. It was as if the KKK or Aryan Nation had written their talking points. Nothing sticked, however, except with the lunatic fringe of the Far Right so determined that the black man did not get re-elected that they would believe any lie being spread. Americans are not as stupid as the Republicans think … and that secretly recorded video of Romney disparaging 47% of the electorate was damning evidence of the utter disregard that the GOP elite has against ordinary Americans.
9. Lying to voters is a not a winning formula. Mitt Romney’s inability to articulate a clear vision for how he would govern and ever-changing positions on the issues turned him into a candidate of lies. Voters could not figure out who the real Romney was, so he lost their trust.
10. The unmasking of the Tea Party, and its collapse. The swift and sudden rise of the Tea Party in 2009 was secretive and its mission was unclear, but as the months passed by, it became increasingly clear that it was a radical, right-wing group aligned with Republicans. The Tea Party struck fear in the moderates in the party, who were quickly silenced or hounded out of office. Though the group’s initial message was that they were against big government, big business, big taxes and a big federal deficit, those who dug deep into the Tea Party’s young history found that its chief funders were some of America’s wealthy elite, including the ultra-conservative Koch brothers, leading to suspicions about the group’s real motives. The Tea Party made some big gains in the U.S. House and on state and local levels in 2010, but its elected officials became so inept at governance that many Americans were turned off by the party of no. Not only that, but its members were intolerant of gays, women and minorities, and were often accused of being racist. In the 2012 elections, a number Tea Party favorites running for the House and Senate lost.
Ken Williams is Editor in Chief of SDGLN. He can be reached at [email protected], @KenSanDiego on Twitter, or by calling toll-free to 888-442-9639, ext. 713.