After #Election2012: Time to strike with a *moderately* hot iron?

Okay, Ruarai makes some interesting points about the implications of this election for the Republican party, or which some more later. And I hope Gerry Lynch will give us a more granular view of what happened both at the executive level and out in the country at council and Gubernatorial levels (30 out of 50 Governors in the US are now Republican).

Kellyanne Dignan who is one of our regular US panelists points out that whilst Mitt Romney is most certainly the loser on the night, President Obama’s victory (and as Dan McDermott notes, he was leading all the time through this campaign) is an equivocal instruction to carry on with the job.

But the narrowness of the victory implies that he cannot do it the way he has done heretofore.

On the positive side, it’s a retrospective endorsement of his heathcare reforms. Not a ringing one, but no one will be ripping out the extension of insurance to people with pre-existing conditions for instance for instance. That may have been one of the prime motivating factors for springing a mass voter turnout America’s not seen for generations.

But this 50/50 was about as tight as it comes. Without the President’s tight GOTV campaign, he’d now be a busted flush. This is an outcome suggests that something has to change, and relations with Congress has to be first on his list.

Many of the critical voices in the GOP claim that Obama has been the least bipartisan President in living memory. It’s not completely clear to me that this was by design (if it was, probably not his own), or by his own professorish inclination to ‘retreat to his rooms’.

Unfortunately for all concerned perhaps, President Obama is no LBJ, who was by turns both a charmer and a bully. But somewhere in the last ten years, the US government (that’s the Executive and the Legislature combined) has lost the knack or even in the inclination to cut deals.

As Ruarai notes, the GOP has problems of its own. They seats lost (or, at least, not won) last night, that resulted from candidates who were popular with the base of the GOP but proved a liability when they actually took the field. But more than that, the US is changing under their feet. Michael Dougherty in the American Conservative provides an excellent account of what went wrong for the GOP How to Explain Romney’s Loss to Shocked Conservatives:

America isn’t what you thought it was: Please remember, in 2008 Barack Hussein Obama absolutely trounced Republicans in Virginia. Virginia! The Old Dominion that is littered with landmarks dedicated to Robert E. Lee voted for the first black president overwhelmingly. You have been saying that Obama was going to change America. It turns out that America had changed already. That’s why you got Barack Obama in the first place.

Both parties face a great temptation. They each won decisively in different parts of the population. From Clinton to Obama the proportion of the white population as a total of the US population has dropped from 88% to 74%.

The question is that even if there is an inclination to do a deal and move things on, whether these different factions will reward what one Washington insider on CNN this morning called a ‘principled compromise’? Meanwhile the fiscal cliff ought to concentrate minds, and the President will have no better moment to strike with a moderately hot iron.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

  • Tomas Gorman


    I think your treating Republican intransigence in congress with extremely soft kid gloves. The Obama administration as well as democrats in congress have attempted to engage republicans during his first term but faced a GOP brick wall that seen even governmental budgets (a fairly routine legislature process in the past Gerry Lynch?) being blocked by an extremely beligerent republican congress.

    The reasonable voices within the GOP have either been silenced or attacked by a wing nut tea party cabal.

  • Mick Fealty

    I was letting Ruarais post speak to that side of the equation Tomas. Congress does have a role to play, it’s not like the NI Assembly, nor yet the Westminster parliament. Congress counts by design.

    If there’s one thing the President needs to do it is start shaping a robust relationship with it and not just playing it all by remote control from the White House bunker.

  • The anti-Obamacare referendum failing in Florida (however narrowly) was a big, unnoticed win for Obama.

  • Greenflag

    Obamacare is untouchable now . The GOP wasted enormous amounts of time trying to block it .
    The problem for the GOP is that it’s self selected shock troops of the extreme right cannot be cajoled back into the centre not even by moderate Republicans who are now even fewer in number .

    The Tea Party element have added to their number .

    Thus the stage is set -despite all of the conciliatory post election talk -for even more polarisation .

    Meanwhile Ryan has already started his 2016 run for the Presidency .

    Mr Paul ‘Ayn Rand ‘ Ryan is the Tea Party’s man and they control perhaps a third of all GOP House members and probably after the next ‘primary ‘ season in 2014 .

    Civil war within the GOP cannot be discounted as those wiser heads who know that without minority and younger and female voting blocs their is no longer term political future for the GOP except as a disgruntled fringe minority of elderly white male geriatrics still able to hack it outside their nursing homes !