David Pakman: Lessons from election 2012 - The clock is counting down to a more progressive US
Since President Obama’s reelection on Nov. 6, the amount and magnitude of right-wing “Obama Derangement Syndrome” has reached new highs. Between right-wing hosts’ heads exploding, racist protests at southern colleges and an exponential explosion of racist comments on Twitter, it almost seems like Romney voters really didn’t believe the polls that so clearly favored the president.
Here’s an actual conversation I had with a Romney voter. The conversation took place two days after the election:
Romney Voter (RV): Now that Obama won, I’m worried I’m going to lose my job and really worried about my retirement account. Stocks are going to drop like a rock for four years.
Me: Don’t worry, if you look back 100 years you’ll see that stocks do significantly better under Democrats than Republicans, and way more jobs have been created while Democrats have been president than under Republicans.
RV: Yeah right, where do you get your spin? Democrats and Obama are bad for business and investors hate Obama, stocks will drop.
Me: I did the math myself on the stock thing. It’s simple numbers, not spin. Just do the math yourself and you’ll see. Don’t you remember at the DNC when Bill Clinton cited the jobs numbers, and it was fact-checked by multiple groups and determined to be true?
RV: I wouldn’t trust Bill Clinton’s numbers on anything. Don’t you remember when he lied about Monica Lewinsky?
Me: Forget about trusting Bill Clinton. Don’t you trust the non-partisan fact-checkers who said his numbers were 100 percent accurate?
RV: I wouldn’t listen to anything Bill Clinton says at this point. I’m so worried about losing my job and my retirement account because Obama got re-elected.
Me: (Blank stare.)
Also irritating are the people who say that the differences between President Obama and Mitt Romney were so minor as to be inconsequential to the future of this country. I sympathize with and believe the reality that on a broad variety of issues, there is little difference between Democrats and Republicans in the United States. That being said, differences do exist. This election was a key fork in the road for the potential future of a real progressive influence in American politics.
With regard to President Obama, if he had lost on Nov. 6, he would likely have been regarded simply as a one-term president who couldn’t get re-elected. Regardless of whether one likes President Obama’s first term accomplishments, they have the potential to establish his legacy as one of the most effective presidents in history. The magnitude of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare); the stimulus, which stopped the precipitous economic downturn caused in part by the policies of the George W. Bush administration; ending one war and putting in place a plan to end another; getting the actual terrorist responsible for the 9/11 attacks; and saving the American automobile industry — in direct contradiction to what Romney said he would have done — are powerful and broad accomplishments.
Had Romney won, it would have confirmed that you can lie your way to the top — changing positions on every issue, lying about previous positions you held, hiding your personal past and finances — without any repercussions.
Moving beyond the specific candidates of this election, we are at a key point for moving forward and enacting progressive change. President Obama may appoint anywhere from one to three Supreme Court justices during his second term. Depending on which justices he is replacing, the potential for the first progressive Supreme Court in 40 years exists. With the absolute rejection on Nov. 6 of the extremist tea party wing of the Republican Party and the passing in various states of marriage equality by a popular vote and legalization of marijuana, a more liberal Supreme Court could be the factor that pushes anti-choice, anti-gay, anti-science views away from mainstream political relevance for good in the United States and prevents new challenges to Roe v. Wade.
But wait, there’s another factor: Demographics.
In 2016, the demographics of the United States will still be evolving in a way that could destroy today’s Republican Party if it doesn’t change. Latino voters will make up a larger portion of the population, and as has been increasingly reported over the last 18 months, the Republican reliance on white male voters will not work mathematically in national elections.
Additionally, the aging out of many regressive beliefs, and their replacement by young voters who grew up in a world where the president being black or their friends having gay parents was such old news that it wasn’t even a topic of discussion, is going to further push the electorate toward progress and liberalism, and away from regressive, conservative views.
President Obama may be “just another Democrat” who won an election against “just another Republican,” but there is a timely combination of factors coming together that may catalyze permanent progressive change in this country.
David Pakman, host of the internationally syndicated political talk radio and television program “The David Pakman Show,” writes a monthly column. He can be reached at www.davidpakman.com.