Kennesaw State University political science professor Kerwin Swint put it well in Wednesday’s Marietta Daily Journal, noting that Obama’s win means “that a majority of Americans are comfortable with sluggish economic growth, high unemployment and higher taxes. It also means that most Americans are not particularly concerned with the money spent in the stimulus program, the auto bailouts and Obamacare. This election means that a majority do not hold President Obama responsible for the tough times we are experiencing as a country. Evidently, most are not ready to give up on him.”
As syndicated Atlanta radio talk host Neil Boortz noted on Wednesday, we’re about to find out what Jimmy Carter’s second term would have been like.
CLOSER TO HOME, Georgia voters approved both constitutional amendments that were on the ballot. The first makes it easier to create charter schools and can be seen as a victory for parental “choice” and a loss for the educational establishment, which has tried to keep for itself the veto power over whether such schools are created. The second should save taxpayers money by allowing the state to enter into contracts for more than a year at a time.
Meanwhile, Army war veteran Hunter Hill narrowly defeated District 6 state Sen. Doug Stoner (D-Smyrna), thereby putting Republicans halfway to a “supermajority” in the Statehouse. Republicans just missed gaining supermajority status in the House chamber. But as this was written, they were in discussions with independent state Rep. Rusty Kidd of Milledgeville about joining their party, which would give them supermajority status in both chambers. Were he to do so, they would then be able to send constitutional amendments to voters without support or interference from Democrats.
THE DEMOCRATS retained control of the U.S. Senate and the Republicans held control of the House, thereby setting the stage for at least two more years of divided government and probable partisan gridlock. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wasted no time on Wednesday, declaring he would try to change to filibuster rules in order to give Republicans less say over legislation.
President Obama in his acceptance speech late Tuesday promised to reach out and try to end the stalemate — behavior that would be uncharacteristic for him, to say the least. And indeed, the first sign of an olive branch on Wednesday came not from the White House but from House Speaker John Boehner, who said late in the afternoon that Republicans would accept “new revenue,” i.e., additional taxes, to help keep the country from going over the fiscal cliff. But you can expect much bloodshed during the dispute over how much new revenue and from whose pockets it should come.
Meanwhile, the internal debate has already begun among Republicans over whether the party should become even more conservative and make its agenda even more pointed, or whether it should rethink various positions in order to broaden its base and attract additional voters, especially younger ones turned off by many of its hard-line positions on social issues and illegal immigration. Tacking further to right risks ghettoizing the Republican Party to an even greater extent as a party that appeals mainly to older white rural/suburban voters.
But adopting a more middle-of-the-road course, the more attractive possibility, means watering down much of what party members stand for. Most party activists (of any party) got involved in politics in the first place because they were passionate about the issues. So expecting them now to moderate that passion to any significant extent might be asking the impossible.
Yet today’s Republican Party is not the same as the Republican Party of 2000 or 1980 or 1952. It always has changed with the times, albeit sometimes with reluctance, and now must do so again.