Is the election a teachable moment for the Republicans? Only if they are willing to learn. Listening to the blabbesphere on talk radio I fear that they are not willing to learn. From Rush Limbaugh to Sean Hannity and Anne Coulter, Donald Trump and Karl Rove, it is clear that the hate mongers and apologists are going on as if nothing has changed. They are willing to blame Hurricane Sandy and the poor judgement of the American people for their failure to win the White House. They continue to look backward to an America that was whiter and had less access to information. They refuse to look forward and understand that their world has changed in important and irreversible ways. With any luck, they will be left behind to sink in the waters of their shallow and hateful minds.
The people have spoken, but what have they said? They have rejected the message of hate and fear promulgated by the Republicans. They have embraced the message of hope and change promulgated by the Democrats. The gap between these two approaches is wide and can only be traversed if we stop talking at each other and start listening to each other. While the Democrats won, they were not given a blank check. With this victory comes responsibility. The people have been loud and clear. They don’t want their representatives bickering like children. The result of this behavior is that we have all been losers. There is too much at stake to allow the pettiness of small minds and self serving goals to dictate the discussion. This is a time for our leaders to prove that they are worthy of our trust and faith.
If the Republican Party is going to survive this defeat, it will have to leave the haters behind and begin to see America for what it is today and what it will be tomorrow. The demographics don’t lie and they will continue to redefine America in a way that will find the present Republican Party unacceptable. States that have been safe for Republicans in the past such as Arizona, Texas and Georgia, are redefining themselves as their Latino populations grow. The electoral map that was such a challenge for Mitt Romney, will be an even greater challenge for a future Republican nominee if the Party doesn’t acquire a character and heart transplant. It can no longer be the party of old, angry or rich white guys. It can no longer be the party of fringe crazies. It can no longer be the party of hate and fear.
Another lesson that the Republicans must learn is that money does not equal victory. Money cannot replace ideas. Money cannot replace facts. Most important, money cannot buy votes. The electorate is better informed and more sophisticated than ever. There are more sources of information and opinion than ever before. It isn’t possible to control all that there is or all that there will be in the world of information. It is time for substance not slogans.
As we were driving back from Las Vegas where our friends Jeff and Sylvia, my wife Corky, my son Barry and I worked on behalf of the President to help insure victory, we felt good and hopeful. We were proud to be a part of the effort and look forward to what we expect the President will be able to achieve in the coming years. However, our hope is tempered by the realization that there are still some in the Republican Party that are not ready to learn. Let’s hope their leadership can sit them down like the children that they are, and help them understand that it is, in fact, time to learn the lessons that will serve both the Republican Party and the nation well.