It’s been a week since the tumultuous mid-term election cycle ended; a week since Republicans metaphorically painted the nation red in a tidal wave of Congressional victories.
Let’s take a moment to go over nine lessons that Democrats, Republicans, and the American People hopefully learned from last Tuesday:
I know I’ve been AWOL for a few months (real life got real busy) but here’s my apology in the form of a shameless, BuzzFeed-style list post.
1: The Public really, REALLY does not like the “Affordable Care Act.”
Gripes, real or imagined, are mounting, benefits aren’t appearing, and patience is running out.
The embattled piece of legislation popularly known as “Obamacare” has been generally disliked from the start, and rising costs, cancelled plans, and a trainwreck of a website have only made things worse. Saying the American people don’t like Obamacare isn’t “Empty Republican Rhetoric.” Polls show that over HALF of the nation is opposed to it.
That’s not just one poll. The AVERAGE of every major poll conducted says that the disapproval rating still holds at 51.1%.
With the disapproval rating leading the approval rating by double digits in every major poll conducted by liberals or conservatives, Democratic candidates spent most of their time running as far from the bill as they could, even if they voted for it. The ones who kept defending it, for the most part, lost their jobs as voters went to the polls seeking vengeance for their lost healthcare plans.
2: The Public really doesn’t like Obama’s policies either.
The President really brought this on himself:
In his speech at Northwestern University, Obama came right out and declared that while HE was not up for reelection, his “policies were on the ballot. Every single one of them.”
Democrats spent most of their time not just running from Obamacare, but from Obama too, and close association with the President made them just as unemployed.
If Obama’s standard of measure regarding public approval is to be believed… he dun goofed.
3: Turns out that Democrats are just as racist and sexist as Republicans. If not more so.
Liberal Democrats are insufferably proud about how loving and tolerant they are of minorities…. unless, of course, those minorities dare to do something as uppity as disagree with them.
The amount of hate and bile directed an women and people of color running on the Republican ticket was disgusting, and it was coming from their Democratic opponents.
Meet Tim Scott, Senator from South Carolina:
Tim Scott literally made history by getting elected. He is the first black man to be elected to the Senate since the days of the Reconstruction over a century ago.
(EDIT: He is the first black man FROM THE SOUTH to be elected to the Senate since the Reconstruction. He IS, however the first black man to be elected to both the House AND Senate.)
Instead of celebrated, Scott has been maligned, ridiculed, and made fun of. Twitter is rife with comments I’d rather not reproduce.
Everywhere else, Liberal Progressives everywhere are calling him an “Uncle Tom,” a race traitor, and a token boot-licker.
All because Tim Scott is a conservative Republican.
Meet Mia Love, the new Congresswoman from Utah:
Even though Love is much more moderate than Scott is, she has had it even worse… simply because she is both black AND a woman. The first African-American congresswoman from Utah has had to endure relentless racism AND sexism from the “progressive” left, simply because she ALSO ran and won as a Republican.
It goes beyond the typical racism/sexism on Twitter to the downright bizarre. The Huffington Post published a rambling, poorly argued op-ed piece about how Mia is actually somehow enjoying “White Privilege.”
No, I’m not kidding.Writer Darron Smith actually argues that the fact that Mia is able to win elections and be taken seriously is NOT due to her own merit, but because she’s made some sort of “Deal With the Devil,” where she sold her soul to the Republican party to get a slice of that sweet “Privilege Pie.”
These are not just “Token Examples,” as people are quick to claim. All across the United States, in both state and national elections, women and people of color had made impressive strides under the Republican banner, and been viciously lambasted by the progressive left as too stupid, traitorous, or ignorant to possibly accomplish this on their own.
Liberals are suddenly very OK with racism and sexism when the minority in question disagrees with them.
4: If you spend all of your time patronizing and ignoring a demographic, it will be hard to make them vote for you.
Democrats had a BIG problem getting black Americans and women to vote this year, the first time they’ve had this problem since before Obama was elected, and it perplexes them, when it really shouldn’t.
The African American community and women in general were promised a change in the status quo if they voted for Obama; if they voted for Democrats. They were promised a LOT of things, and pretty much nothing has been delivered. Every year, the Democrat party would come around and promise “hope and change” if they would just vote Democrat one more time… and every year nothing would happen.
However, now people are getting disillusioned; starting to feel used.
They’ve been told for the past 10+ years to fear those “Evil, racist, rich white men” in charge of the Republican Party, but they’re starting to notice that there’s an awful lot of rich white men in charge of the Democrat Party too… and those rich white men don’t look or act much different from the Republican ones.
Left or Right, it doesn’t really matter.
And so they stay home.
An impressive amount of diversity and historic firsts were brought into Congress last week.
Mia Love, first black woman to represent Utah. Ever.
Elise Stefanik, the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.
Tim Scott, the first black American to be elected to the Senate from the south… SINCE THE FREAKING RECONSTRUCTION.
The list goes on!
REPUBLICANS are doing that. How? By spending less time race-baiting, less time pandering to specific groups, and less time generally patronizing people. And look what happens!
THAT’S what social progress looks like, but all social progressives can do is ignore the success of people who happen to disagree with them, and lament how terrible mean ol’ Texas is for burying Wendy Davis in Greg Abbott’s landslide victory.
But why did Davis lose? Because she didn’t know lesson number five.
5: During economic crisis, choosing social issues, instead of economic ones, as your preferred hill to die on, is a terrible idea.
Even Slate acknowledged that Tim Scott was able to win over multiple demographics, black and white, by talking about economic and community improvement. Nearly every successful candidate hit the issue of the economy hard, and that’s what’s resonating with people right now.
Nearly every defeated candidate lost because they thought social issues would win the day.
“I’ll ignore the economy and run a pro-abortion campaign… in Texas. What could possibly go wrong?”
Here’s the problem though: America is hilariously divided about most of those things. We still can’t agree on abortion, gay marriage, pay inequality, whether or not racism is still a problem, education standards, religion, etc. We CAN agree on the economy; specifically that it’s terrible right now.
I honestly do not understand how candidates like Wendy Davis can be so convinced that having a die-hard stance on a very specific set of issues will automatically boost them to victory, especially when those issues are still HOTLY contested by the public at large.
That strategy wouldn’t even make sense in a political climate that WAS worried about it, but what makes it worse is that Americans aren’t even CONCERNED about those issues right now. Most voters and families in America want are concerned with whether or not they’ll have a job next year, not whether or not there is a grand, conspiratorial “War on Women.”
6: And when it comes to social issues, you actually have to stand for something more than just abortion rights.
For some reason, “Reproductive rights” were the big thing this cycle. I guess Marriage Equality was too “last spring.”
But in this case, the Democrats really backed the wrong horse, and Wendy Davis was far from the only candidate who bet everything on it and lost.
Again! When half of America is still against it, and MOST of America is more concerned about their paycheck… it’s not a great talking point… and yet you still see Democratic candidates lashing themselves to the mast. In the case of Mark Udall, it got so bad that one of his OWN DONORS heckled him for beating the “Reproductive Rights” horse to death.
To be fair, with Marriage Equality stalled out in the court system for the time being, and literally anything to do with healthcare becoming too hot to handle, the notoriously-weak-on-economics Democratic Party was forced to enter the election with an extremely limited toolbox. That said, they still didn’t handle what tools they had very well, and they didn’t distance themselves enough from Obama to avoid becoming punching bags for dissatisfied voters.
7: Love them or hate them, Americans at large like their guns, and it looks like they’re here to stay.
This election cycle also marked the first chance for Michael Bloomberg’s strangely artificial “grassroots” anti-gun campaign to shine; as grassroots as a cobbled-together organization funded by one obscenely rich man can be. Bloomberg declared a renewed vendetta against guns this past August…. about a year too late to cash in on the gun-fear craze and right as hunters started practicing for the fall deer season.
Basically the worst time to declare war on guns.
And a lot of Democrats went along with it, much to their regret.
Half of the reactions criticized Bloomberg for offering too little, too late, and the other half recognized him as being the worst possible poster-boy for gun control because of his arrogance and his fairly glaring hypocrisy.
How’d that work out? An overwhelming number of new Senators and Congressmen are pro-gun, possibly the most in recent history.
Guns aren’t going to be going anywhere soon.
8: Yes, Congress usually flips in the second Midterm Election. No, that doesn’t mean the “Republican Surge” is made up.
Pretty much ever left-leaning talking head has been quick to point out that the President’s party almost ALWAYS loses control of Congress during their second midterm election, and they’ve been using this as their justification for downplaying the Republican victory.
Unfortunately, this kind of damage-control doesn’t really fly, just because of the wide margins Republicans saw their leads take. While some races, like the one between Udall and Gardner in Colorado were fairly close, a startling number of races across the nations saw Republicans leading by as much as THIRTY PERCENT, which is absolutely ridiculous by political standards.
This was not a case of Republicans winning over barely enough moderates to nudge out their Democrat opponents. This was a case of a huge number of people expressing extreme dissatisfaction with Democratic methods. While they may be laughing off this “minor setback” in public, Democratic leaders should be very concerned by these numbers privately, especially since some of these crushing victories were won in swing states.
9: This is not a victory for Republican leadership
Don’t make the mistake of assuming this is a grand comeback of the “Good Ol’ Boys” who have been driving the Republican Party into the ground for the past two decades. John McCain didn’t do this. Boehner didn’t do this.
Mitch McConnell, the man whose jawline is vaguely reminiscent of a sun-deprived turkey, certainly didn’t do this.
This surge came almost entirely on the backs of Tea-Partiers and “Conservitarians;” groups reviled by the Republican Old Guard.
Check the numbers. Nearly every candidate who took a seat in a dramatic way was running on a conservative or as aTea Party member.
Meet Dave Brat, the man who is despised by both Republican AND Democratic leadership, the man who slayed a political giant, the man who defeated the poster-boy of thoughtful liberalism, and the man who is the face of the new wave of Republican lawmakers.
This man defeated the sitting Republican majority leader in a primary everyone thought was unwinnable. He then went on to defeat co-worker and fellow academic Jack Trammel this past Tuesday, in another race everyone, ESPECIALLY Republicans said he couldn’t win. And he didn’t just win. He blew Trammel out of the water with a lead of almost thirty percent.
Brat is smart, articulate, aggressive, and promises to rock the both. And the people love him for it.
There is a growing trend here.
People aren’t just unhappy with Democrats. They’re unhappy with Republicans too. They’re tired of the games, the meandering, the deadlock, and the inability to do things.
They’re tired of Statler and Waldorf running the country.
They might be terrifying, but Tea Party candidates are new, unusual, and promising to get stuff done.
And they’re getting elected.
Louis Petolicchio lives and writes in Central Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter!