Moving on from here
Nobody is suggesting that last week’s presidential election was unfair or won by dishonest means. Yet, judging by the excessive hand-wringing and finger-pointing by so many who voted for Mitt Romney, it’s clear that many conservative Republicans simply cannot reconcile themselves to the prospect of four more years of a president they despise, Barack Obama.
Romney himself has won no points for dignity in the election’s aftermath. He has acted as if the presidency was wrongfully denied to him and that those who voted for Obama did so because they are “takers” rather than “makers.” Thus he reminded everyone of his infamous remarks — which he later said he regretted — labeling 47 percent of the voters as beyond his reach because they were too dependent upon government largesse to ever vote for a conservative.
Democrats may be tempted to gloat at all the right-wing agony that is so readily visible, but in the long run they also need to recognize that the United States is best governed when there are two respectable — and mutually respectful — political parties. A vibrant two-party system gets much of the credit for our nation’s enduring political stability.
The immediate danger is that too many Republicans appear unwilling to honorably fulfill their obligation to act as “loyal opposition.” In the House of Representatives, where the GOP reigns supreme, too many members see their first priority to be blocking any initiatives that Obama supports simply to deny him any success.
They take their inspiration not just from the tea party types but also from the minority leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, who four years ago declared that his party’s top priority should be to deny Obama a second term; in the wake of last week’s election, he basically reiterated this view.
And thus the outcome of the pending “fiscal cliff” negotiations that began in earnest at the White House yesterday remains uncertain. House Speaker John Boehner last week declared — it sounded almost like a sneer — that he and his colleagues were willing to negotiate but wanted President Obama to show some leadership.
Boehner also seemed to suggest that to him presidential leadership would be demonstrated by Obama accepting his party’s demands that there be no tax increases of any kind. It’s almost as if Boehner and his colleagues hadn’t noticed the election results.
But of course they had, and many prominent Republicans have reluctantly concluded that their party finally needs to accept the fact that the United States is changing, something patently obvious to others but that seemed to catch most of them by surprise.
Even Newt Gingrich, an icon of the far-right wing of the Republican Party, has belatedly heard the call of reason: “I was wrong last week, as was virtually every major Republican analyst,” he conceded. “And so, you have to stop and say to yourself, ‘If I was that far off, what do I need to learn to better understand America?’”
He and his colleagues might begin by examining President Obama’s winning message. For example, judging by the election outcome, it seems safe to conclude that a majority of the American people don’t want their political leaders telling them that Roe v. Wade should be repealed, that abortion should always be illegal and that same-sex marriages should be prohibited by law.
The conservatives could also rethink their doctrinaire opposition to raising taxes, especially on the wealthy. President Obama made it clear this is a priority of his, and, as the Republicans so grudgingly acknowledge, he did, after all, win the election.