We wouldn’t be columnists if we didn’t have our own slant on the 2012 elections. Unfortunately, our article comes out nearly a month after the elections and therefore, some of what we will say may be stale already, but nonetheless, this is our article and we have the right to write what we wish.
Obviously, the Presidential election requires us to comment on it first. There are many messages that we learned from the Presidential election. First, white men no longer, as it has been for nearly a hundred years, are the only ones to vote. But now we know that white men cannot singularly determine the results of an election.
President Barack Obama received less than forty percent of the white male vote, but still was elected President, fifty-one percent to forty-eight percent. Hispanics or Latinos, whatever you wish to call them, now have become a significant voting block and along with black Americans, have the ability to sway the election. Because of this we now know that the Republican philosophy of the united south, combined with the states in the center of the country, will yield them enough votes to come in a graceful second place.
We learned that the Citizens United case, which held restrictions on the amounts that unions and corporations could donate to unaffiliated campaigns, actually didn’t make the difference that we all expected. When Citizens United came down, many feared that corporations and wealthy donors would literally be able to buy elections for their candidates by donating money to organizations “so called not affiliated with campaigns” and flood the airwaves with messages drowning out the other side. What really happened was that apparently the American populous reaches a certain saturation point. There were so many messages sent out, there were so many commercials, there were so many robo-calls and there were so many news accounts, that the added money that was poured into the non-affiliated campaigns just became noise.
The commercials that they ran did not sway voters because the other side’s message was out there in sufficient quantity. To this end, Karl Rove and his organization spent hundreds of millions of dollars pushing the conservative agenda and almost every candidate and issue that he backed, lost.
We learned that the 2010 elections where the Tea Party caused the Republicans to gain control of the House of Representatives was and was not an aberration. It was an aberration in that the United States has not moved to be more right-wing conservative, but in fact certainly more moderate than that and may have had its fill of the Tea Party agenda. However, we also learned that the Tea Party has some clout, especially in the rural areas of this country and in the deep south. They certainly are not going to be able to take over this country, nor even lead the Republican Party to victories on a national level. Yet they remain a viable obstructionist voice and an anchor, making sure this country does not move too far to the left.
We learned that almost every television pundit and prognosticator, whether on Fox News, which had called for a landslide for Romney, or the actual new stations, know little more than we do and actually they don’t know more than anybody. The only one worth listening to is Nate Silver from Fivethirtyeight.com, who had 49 of the 50 elections that he was charting correct.
In the State of Florida we learned some things. We learned that the politically motivated decision by the Republican administration to cut back on hours of early voting and days of early voting did not prevent those who wanted to vote from casting their vote. It did not hand Florida to Mitt Romney.
We also learned that the national media still seems to be fixated on Palm Beach and Broward County and their seemingly inability to count votes correctly and to process the results. Yet, the truth be told, there still were numerous counties throughout the country who, along with Palm Beach and Broward Counties, were still tabulating ballots a week after the election. Yet South Florida’s inability to do elections right still subjects us to national ridicule.
We also learned in Florida that the people will not stand for politicization of the state Supreme Court. All three Justices who were up for merit retention and who were attacked by the conservative right were overwhelmingly voted to be retained. The concerted campaign from outside sources with the vision of turning each branch of Florida government to puppets of the Republican party and the current Republican administration outright failed.
In Florida and in other parts of the country we learned that long ballots with long initiatives and long Constitutional Amendments result in long lines to vote. Given that all but one of the eleven proposed Constitutional Amendments went down in defeat, maybe it is time to get the Amendment process overhauled and make it a little bit more difficult to have Constitutional Amendments placed on the ballot.
As to the media and those they like to quote, we learned that just because you have the ability to speak and have others broadcast what you say, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t just keep your mouth shut. Two cases in point are Donald Trump and Karl Rove.
Karl Rove, a key Republican operative, a Fox News analyst and founder of a super pact that spent hundreds of millions of dollars for Republican candidates re-elections, was on Fox News when Fox News called the State of Ohio for President Obama. Karl Rove chided Fox News for this decision and claimed that he had information from on the ground in Ohio that the race was too close to call and that Romney was coming back. The irony of this event is that whether Fox News called the State of Ohio for Obama or not had no bearing on the Presidential election. Somehow Mr. Rove believed that Fox News calling the State of Ohio for Obama or leaving it as undecided had a bearing on the election. Mr. Rove, all the networks including Fox News are not official counts, and it is the Secretary of States of the various states that certify the elections that actually matter.
Donald Trump, the day after the election, based upon nothing other than his ability to speak and sound stupid, called for a march on Washington and that the election was a sham. Yet, he cited no instances of that sham and of course no reason for the march. His tenor was of one who actually thought the government should be overthrown, because the election did not go his way.
Lastly we learned that our system is not broken. There may be glitches and there may be road bumps, but all in all our elections show the people’s will. The American people came out in record numbers to vote for their candidate or candidates of their choice. In the states hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy, the people still found a way to cast their vote and to be involved in the political process.
Whether you were Republican or Democrat, a Romney or Obama supporter or whatever, the 2012 elections were a great day for America and a great day for the force of democracy. Now its time to move on past the 2012 election and to see if those that we put in office come through with the change that they have promised so that we can say in 4 years that we are better off today than we were back in 2012.