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 the Senate 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.

joe November 10, 2012 at 06:06 PM
hogwash! this election was very close nationally 96% of blacks voted for OBAMA.was this because of his postion on gun control? women? this was due to RACE and only RACE. How sad. The democrats (to their credit) marched door to door in minority neighborhods with the paperwork that would allow all the minorities to register. 77% of the Latinos voted for Obama as well. This is why Obama won.
MPM November 10, 2012 at 07:50 PM
Half of all Military bases did not have operating Voter's Assistance Offices, where is the representation for Military families?
InGodWeTrust November 10, 2012 at 08:47 PM
Oh, please....almost half the country voted for Romney. Get over yourself. What ultimately enabled Obama to be re-elected was the minority vote. The slugs in this country who don't tow the line and enjoy their many hand-outs kept "Santa" in office. Axelrod ran a brilliant campaign. He was able to recruit hoards of ignorant people who really don't know the issues, and get them to the polls to vote for Obama. I'm sick and tired of the liberal attack statements...if you are a Conservative you are not compassionate, truthful or tolerant. Nonsense. And you know what? I would love to go back in time and raise my children during the era that "Mad Men" is based on.... it was a time when more folks had a moral compass, children were mannerly and respectful, the media didn't control elections, and families weren't exposed to the filth of left wing Hollywood on every TV station. In our "Modern Family" society, anything goes, doesn't ?And let me comment on your erroneous statements regarding contraception. Republicans were in no way trying to take them away from women. They were trying to protect the religious freedom of Catholics. The Obama administration is trying to force Catholic institutions/employers to cover the cost of birth control pills for its employees, even though the use of oral contraceptives goes against the tenets of the Church.
Kendall L Owott November 10, 2012 at 09:45 PM
TOTALITARIAN INHUMANITY First, the Democrats outdid the Republicans in mobilizing their voters. The Republicans lost. Case closed. Second, if we throw out everything from the last century as useless, then out goes computers, air travel Roe v. Wade, etc. Third, there SHOULD be restrictions on women’s ability to kill human beings at an early stage of development for frivolous and hideous reasons such as eye color, gender selection, etc. Fourth, how can you claim truth, tolerance and compassion when you support a law which allows the killing of innocent human beings for trivial reasons? Can you live with the kind of thinking below from a feminist leader? “The one regret I have about my own abortions is that they cost money that might otherwise have been spent on something more pleasurable, like taking the kids to movies and theme parks.” Barbara Ehrenreich
Former Republican November 11, 2012 at 12:13 AM
"What ultimately enabled Obama to be re-elected was the minority vote. The slugs in this country who don't tow the line and enjoy their many hand-outs kept "Santa" in office." I am shocked that a resident of New Canaan is using such horribly racist language. The fact of the matter is the Republican party has continuously alienated Blacks, Latinos, Asians and many other minority groups through racially tinged rhetoric. I remember when the Republican party was a big-tent party that minorities flocked to. For God's sake it was the party that produced Lincoln. Once the GOP returns to their roots, minorities will come back, and so will I.
InGodWeTrust November 11, 2012 at 01:50 AM
I am not on this forum to be politically correct. And I'm not racist either. I have merely stated the truth, and anyone with any semblance of common sense knows it. We been to stop being to darned "sensitive" and stand up for what's right.
InGodWeTrust November 11, 2012 at 01:52 AM
Typo...we "have " to stop being so darned sensitive., etc etc
Hollywood2 November 11, 2012 at 02:08 AM
In God We Trust? Get a life. If that is your view, we can only feel sorry for you. But, if you follow Rush Limbaugh, Trump, Aikin, and countless other losers, this is why Republicans will never win again. Except those red states. And you will lose 3 of them in 2016.
InGodWeTrust November 11, 2012 at 02:25 AM
Typical lib getting hostile. I actually have a great life.
Four Jacks November 11, 2012 at 02:48 AM
We are heading straight for socialism, people voted for hand-outs. Soon there will be no incentive to work.
J Bauer November 11, 2012 at 05:25 AM
You are partially right, but you say it with just a bit too much venom. Anyway, it was the minority vote and the edge that Obama had with women. Same reasons why Linda McMahon lost the senate race. Ultimately, the GOP is going to have to figure out a way to bring these groups into the fold, otherwise they will have a hard time getting a president elected. In 25 years, whites will no longer be the majority group in this country... by then Florida will have already long since become a Democrat stronghold and Texas will be nearly there as well. On your other point.. raising your children during the Mad Men era. Really? Why does everyone always wax nostalgic for that mythical bygone era where everything was so much better. No MRIs or Lipitor and no ESPN sports center.. just a thought for you. You should watch Midnight in Paris sometime, you might like that movie.
J.James January 13, 2013 at 08:25 PM
And 88% of Romney voters were white. What's your point?
J.James January 13, 2013 at 08:34 PM
Perhaps you're right. Maybe we should go back to the old ways. Man, oh, man the early '60's. Morality was high, women knew their place, and blacks still had separate drinking fountains. Gosh, you're right! All this time we've been struggling forward, trying desperately to put one foot in front of the other and progress, both as a nation and as a people, when the whole time what we should have been doing is putting women back in the kitchen and blacks back at the bottom rung of the social hierarchy. Maybe if we hadn't given in and given women and minorities the right to vote none of this would have happened. Gee whiz, what fools we have been!


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