Obama won. Obama won! Now that this is a fact and not just something that all of us wanted—okay, maybe not all of us, but over 80% of Brooklynites—something should be mentioned that I, for one, was way too superstitious to say before I heard Obama's victory speech. But I can say it now. It would have been really easy for Obama to lose. Unbelievably easy, in fact. It took an incredibly well run Obama campaign and an incredibly inept Romney campaign to make the President's re-election possible.
Let's face it though. Obama was in a really weak position for an incumbent. The economy is still all kinds of messed up. Unemployment is still really high. Student loan debt numbers are so financially crippling that it's almost comical. So then why wasn't Obama our generation's Jimmy Carter? Well, one major reason is that the Republicans are so tone deaf to the changing demographics of this country that they let this election slip away. If they want to have a shot four years from now—when the demographics will continue to trend in the same, Democratic-leaning way that they have in the last four years—then here are some things they'll need to do.
Keep Your Creepy Thoughts on Rape to Yourselves, You Creeps
One of the most exciting aspects of watching the election returns last night was seeing all of the Republicans who thought rape was "a gift from God" or only sometimes "legitimate" lose big. Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock were both thought to be shoo-in Republican candidates and, instead, they got shut down in their races and will hopefully never be heard from again. What Republicans should learn from this is simple. When talking about rape, avoid making it seem like it is kind of a good thing. This is called "compassion" and while the Republican party is not known for it, this might be one area where the party might learn to adopt this virtue. Think about it.
Women Make Up More Than Half the Electorate. Show Some Respect.
In theory, Republicans are supposed to represent small government and a respect for the privacy of individuals. However, in practice, the only private rights that modern Republicans really seem to respect are those of gun-owners looking to add to their arsenals. If Republicans actually did respect the privacy of women, their attitude toward a woman's right to choose would be markedly different. After all, the whole premise for Roe v Wade was that not allowing a woman to have an abortion violated her right to privacy. Republicans should support that. Instead, Republicans are in favor of unwanted and invasive ultrasounds for every woman who is looking to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. And Republicans have no problem slut-shaming women like Sandra Fluke who are asking for easy access to birth control.
These kinds of idiotic missteps and miscalculations of what is important to the women of today are some of the main reasons why the Republicans' share of women voters has dropped dramatically in the last 40 years. If Republicans want to win in the future, they won't be able to do it without appealing to women. And, no, Ann Coulter does not appeal to most women.
Don't Be Scared, Republicans, But Americans Are Not All White
So Fox News's irascible douchebag Bill O'Reilly let loose with this gem on Election Night. He said, "The white establishment is now the minority... The demographics are changing. It’s not a traditional America anymore.” Let's put aside the fact that O'Reilly's "traditional America" always had regions that were populated with people of color, they just happened to be overwhelmingly disenfranchised by O'Reilly's beloved "white establishment." The truth is that O'Reilly is actually right. He wasn't right about the other jerky things he said, like that everyone not in the "white establishment" feels "entitled to things" and that the Hispanic and black voters chose Obama only because they "want stuff." No, those are just racist bullshit-y things. But what O'Reilly is correct about is that Republicans can't count on anyone to vote for them anymore except white males. And that is going to be a huge problem as our demographics keep changing and the percentage of white male voters keeps decreasing.
The fact that Republicans have never pursued African-American voters in a real way is disgraceful and not very intelligent. But even stupider is the fact that Republicans have given up on Latino voters. This move mortally wounded Romney's campaign in battleground states like Nevada, Colorado, and Florida. Now that Latino voters make up 10% of the electorate (a number that is quickly rising) Republicans need to adjust their views on things like immigration reform and health care. Will Republicans do it? They will if they're smart. So. Maybe?
Gays Are Not Scary, Get Over Your Homophobic Bullshit
There was a time when fiscally-conservative gay men and women could justify voting Republican because, hey, Democrats were also against same-sex marriage. But now those times are gone. President Obama has said he supports everyone's right to get married and he also repealed the ridiculous "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law. And Republicans are left with the knowledge that a very organized and vocal voting block is almost uniformly against them. If only Republicans understood that the march toward more freedom and equality is inexorable, and that civil rights are just that: rights, not privileges. Perhaps Republicans would be able to pick up a substantial amount of votes in states like Connecticut and New Jersey if they just embraced the idea that everyone is equal, no matter who they love.
Climate Change Is Real; Embrace Your Inner Fear-Monger
If there's one thing Republicans don't like, it's science. You know how evolution is such a pesky little theory? Well, so is climate change! It just makes no sense that it's snowing in November when people say global warming exists! Amirite, Donald Trump? However, if there's one thing Republicans DO like, it's scaring Americans. Republicans do it all the time. They scare Americans about socialist takeovers and about the, uh, disappearance of the white establishment (ooh! scary!) so why not scare Americans about climate change? The bonus to this is that some good might actually come out of it. Because climate change? Is real. And it wouldn't be a bad idea for Republicans to treat it as such so that they won't end up on the wrong side of history.
Donald Trump Should Not Be the Face of Your Party
And I'm not just saying that because his particular face is orange and bloated. No, I'm saying that because Trump is a fool and a bully. And he always uses the most banal adjectives ever when describing things. Has anyone else noticed that? Things are always "very good" or "very bad" or "very, very bad" with Trump. Not that that's the worst thing about him. It's just something that I find annoying. Trump isn't the only problem. The problem is that all the faces of the Republican Party are total buffoons. Karl Rove? What has he even done? He won a fixed lawsuit to get Bush into office in 2000 and then won an incumbent, wartime, strong economy President a second term. Big deal. He's done almost nothing but lose since. Ann Coulter? Has anyone ever determined if she was anything more than a parody of Eva Braun? Ugh.
What the Republicans need is an elder statesman, like Bill Clinton. But the Republicans don't have that. Because they don't want to remind America who the last Republican president was. So they continue to promote asshats like Trump or Rush Limbaugh as emblematic of who they are. This is a mistake. I'd suggest getting behind Chris Christie, but hopefully, he's being swayed by Bruce Springsteen to join the Democrats. We'll see.
Your Base Is Dying; Also, Lots of People Like Weed
Young Americans are more and more socially liberal and if Republicans don't cater to this voting bloc, the Democrats will maintain their stronghold on the electorate. Although the trope that all old people are racists is not quite true—it is a ridiculous trope, my own 92-year-old grandmother is a freaking delight and as liberal as can be—what is true is that the old people who are racist are all dying. Because they're old. And so Republicans can't count on their votes forever. And while there certainly are plenty of disgusting young racists in this country, there aren't as many as there used to be. (Progress!) So Republicans will need to find a way to appeal to America's youth. May I suggest legalizing weed? Such a voter initiative already passed this year in Washington and Colorado and eighteen states have legalized medical marijuana. If Republicans got out front on this issue it could revolutionize their demographics.
Don't Change A Thing
Of course, maybe I'm wrong and Republicans should just keep on keeping on. After all, they've won before right? They could win again. And maybe they should win on their own terms, not by hijacking the relative social liberalism of the Democratic Party. Or maybe the future can belong to Independents. Maybe we're ready for a resurgence of the Bull Moose Party. Who knows? All I know is that if the Republican Party continues to stay the course that it has set over the last few decades, I will enjoy watching them lose over and over and over again. The ball's in your court, Republicans!
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen