4 more years! At the very least?
Had I been a US citizen I would have voted for Obama because I simply cannot vote for a Republican the way things are now (a disclaimer of sorts, I suppose). I cannot reconcile my love of balanced budgets, and reasonable spending with a basically anti gay, anti minority platform that does not admit its name. What is truly interesting in the results that I saw is that Obama has no mandate and got actually less votes than 4 years ago: losing 9 million votes and still winning the White House is quite a feat if you ask me! As far as I am concerned Obama did not quite deserve reelection but then again the Republicans and Mitt Romney did not deserve to replace him either. And the results confirm my opinion all along.
Obama certainly inherited a difficult situation in 2008 and probably did the best he could, avoiding further damage to the economy. He also had the temple to make a few bold moves such as having Osama Bin Laden executed. On the other hand he could not go beyond band-aids, and misread the Arab Spring perhaps even more than the Europeans. He has not been a great president but then again I am sure that he would have been treated fairly to well by history had he lost Tuesday. The thing is that he won without really offering anything, and for me with a disturbing redolence of wanting to stay at the white House for the sake of it, a la Chavez if I may forgiven the grotesque comparison since I always get upset when right wing nut jobs equate Obama to Chavez. Obama truly got a second chance, and on the razor. There is no mandate no matter what some pundits try to say because if on the electoral college he did well enough by beating Romney with not even 3 million votes was poor to outright bad. (1)
I think that the election should also be looked upon on a different angle: the close result means for me that the Democrats showed how little they can get and the Republicans how much they can achieve under the current conditions. If you look at it this way it is extremely bad news for the Republicans who may be in the dog house for the next 12 years.
By all standards things are not going well in the US. True, they are not going well anywhere in the world except for a few spots such as Chile of Poland. By all logic Republicans should have done better than what they did. Why did they flunk in the end? We can point of course some of the obvious: a brutal primary season, overloaded by useless debates which made anyone seem unelectable. There is a first lesson there for the Republicans: next time limit yourself to one debate a month, period. You need to stand up to the media that want to make primaries a circus, void of content and full of drama.
But the real problem for the Republicans is not on excessive debates, or even in a refurbished candidate who in the end had little to do with the pragmatic governor of Massachusetts. The problem is that the Republican party has allowed itself to become first the hostage of the religious right and then the hostage of the scorched earth tea-partiers. The consequences are clear to see in the exit polls: it seems that even the Cuban vote of Florida split evenly! As far as I can tell only white males and retirees went Romney: all other groups went from even split to massively Democrat. I read idiots such as Gary Bauer saw that as a positive, that the Republican coalition stuck together and that there was no need to change. What Republican coalition? As a matter fact it is people like Gary Bauer that are sinking the Republican party.
What Republicans should get from Tuesday result is that considering the current political conditions, this is as much as they will ever get for the next ten years. The demographics are now against them and unless they do something about refurbishing their platform to include more folks, Republicans are not going to get more than 58 million votes, leaving any potential victory to a lucky Democratic abstention. They should be further sobered up by the fact that the Obama/Democratic coalition that won Tuesday won with the lowest score it could get. That is right, that Obama lost ground between 2008 and 2012 means up to a point that the 60 million votes he got are the least votes Democrats can expect to win for the next 10 years. Any improvement in the economy, any move toward a less divisive approach to US society, and any Democrat gets the nod in 2016 can count on no less than 65 million for the general election. Right now, if the GOP stays mentally as it is, it will be lucky to get back the MacCain 60 million votes. Expect plenty of Democrats throwing their hats in the ring very soon.
What can the Republicans do? I would suggest them to act quickly but decisively. The good news for them is that they really do not need to do much if they do it well. For example they do not need to renounce to their non abortion policy completely, just amend it to allow it for rape, incest and mother's health. For a year or two some evangelicals are going to foam at the mouth but by 2016 the decision will be history and the Republicans can look forward a less skewed advantage for Democrats in the women's votes. Plus two senate seats at least....
If it is too late to gain gay or black votes, but by dropping their useless Federal opposition to gay marriage and leaving it for states to decide some psychological advantage may be won. Such a slight mellowing on an issue that in the long term is a lost cause can soften enough the image among moderate Democrats who could again consider voting for some Republicans again. And in big gay states, such as NY, CA and MA, at least at local level wealthy gays or blacks may be willing to consider their options and not remain hostages of the Democratic party they way they are now. Look at the Wisconsin results and take note: being a Democratic Lesbian is not going to be enough to rally the Republican troops against her.
Taming the Tea Party, I concede, is not going to be as easy. But Boehner is on the right track by offering a fiscal deal with Obama ASAP. The euphemistic "increased revenue" is the sin that does not dare to speak its name: taxes. By purging what needs to be purged in Congress now is a win-win game for the more rationale Republicans. If the Tea Party rebels, the may settle the score once and for all in the mid term primaries of 2014. A revengeful Tea Party victory will lead to a Republican catastrophe in 2016 and then the party can finally rebuild along more sensible lines. If the Tea Party sobers up or is defeated in 2014 primaries then, why not, a Republican win is possible in 2016.
Whatever it is, the Republican road ahead is way more difficult than the Democratic one. But that does not mean the Democrats have it easy. The "Latino" vote for example should not be taken for granted as the gay and black votes are. First there is the constant temptation to take it all as a whole, made worse as enough Cubans are finding their way to the Dems. That is and will remain a mistake. First, a portion of the lost Gop Cubans in Florida could be well made up as the Venezuelan immigration finds its way to citizenship. Second, the Catholic or religious nature of the Central American Latinos will make sure that a large portion will find their ways to Gop heaven, as long as immigration is seriously and humanly tackled by the Republicans. If there is a "minority" that could eventually split even it is the ill called "Latino" because of its diversity of interests. The first one who truly understands that a Cuban does not think like a Venezuelan, or a Mexican, or a Puerto Rican, or a Colombian or an etc., will be able to secure a solid portion of that constituency. That is why I think the weak link in the "Obama coalition" is the Latino vote.
I am sorry for the many conservative readers of this blog who often expressed strong criticism over my positions. They lost and I am sure it stung a lot. But no more than what Chavez victory trashed me last October 7. And I do not take great comfort, trust me, in having told you that Obama was doing better than what you thought, at least on an electoral perspective. However you can take solace that there are things that your party could do, that could even bring someday someone like me to vote for your guys. This is more than I get in Venezuela where I see no hope anytime soon, not only because of chavista idiocy but because the opposition remains quite clueless on too many things. As for those who cheer Obama's victory, be aware that even as I would have voted for Obama by default rather than conviction, I think his victory is no mandate and not truly deserved. Let's hope that in the next 4 years he proves his true worth.
To end this post a small, almost irrelevant note. As far as I am concerned Obama or Romney would not have made any difference in regards to Venezuela. Obama did not do anything more or less than Clinton or Bush did. Nor would have Romney done much differently. El Chiguire Bipolar had it right when it poked that the US was voting for the president that Chavez would be insulting for the next 4 years. Had I voted in the US, Chavez at last would have not been a factor for me :-)
1) I am using numbers as posted in NYT or WaPo as of Thursday 3 PM, numbers may vary but the gist will remain