Conventional wisdom pushers and the beltway chattering class have been scrambling to explain the crushing defeat Republicans suffered in last night's off-year election.
To hear them spin it, Republicans lost because they “overreached.” The GOP went too far they say.
Let me say this is as clearly and as simply as I can: Republicans did not overreach. What they did is who they are. It is what they stand for. It is what they campaign on.
To claim otherwise would be like saying fish live under water because they suffer from unquenchable thirst.
Nowhere was that sentiment clearer than Ohio where more than sixty percent of voters overturned GOP Governor John Kasich’s efforts to gut labor unions by limiting the right of government workers -- teachers, firefighters, cops, etc. -- to collectively bargain. More people voted to reject Kasich’s anti-worker power grab than voted for the former Congressman turned Fox News host when he was elected to lead the Buckeye State just last year.
It wasn’t overreaching when Governor Kasich went after workers. It wasn’t even unique. It was Republican.
Like Kasich, veteran and rookie Republican Governors in state after state -- New Jersey’s Chris Christie, Florida’s Rick Scott, Iowa’s Terry Branstad, Maine’s Paul LePage, Indiana’s Mitch Daniels -- have gone after workers in ways big and small.
Perhaps no GOP governor in America has done more to cripple the rights of teachers, cops, and firefighters than Wisconsin’s Scott Walker who pushed through legislation that stripped state workers of many of their rights. The move sparked an angry uprising in the Badger State that has already seen the recall of two GOP state lawmakers who supported the move and will likely result in Governor Walker’s recall sometime next year.
Down south, anti-choice activists chose Mississippi as a test case in their efforts to pass so-called “personhood” initiatives. The Mississippi effort was designed to outlaw all abortions, even for victims of rape and incest or for women whose health or life may be threatened by carrying a child. Worse still, the proposal would have outlawed various forms of birth control and opened doctors up to criminal prosecution if an embryo didn’t survive during in vitro fertilization.
It is as if Republican anti-choice activists were thinking, “Well, if it’s going to pass anywhere, it’s Mississippi!”
Haley Barbour, the state’s GOP Governor, initially expressed serious concerns with the initiative saying, “That ambiguity is striking a lot of pro-life people here as concerning… I am concerned about some of the ramifications on in vitro fertilization and ectopic pregnancies.” I’m guessing his vote in favor of the measure was simply an effort to fall in line behind the 2012 Republican frontrunner, Mitt Romney, whose views on abortion and birth control track very closely with the initiative.
In the end, a wide margin of Mississippi voters rejected the flagrant intrusion on these very private decisions that should only be made by a woman and her doctor.
Even though “personhood” efforts have now failed in Alaska, Colorado and Mississippi, anti-choice Republicans activists are hard at work to pass such measures next year in California, Oregon, Nevada, Montana, Ohio, and Florida. Meanwhile in Congress, more than 90 House Republicans have cosponsored legislation to make “personhood” the law of the land throughout the entire country.
These initiatives would go better for Republicans if it were harder for people to vote against them. Perhaps that is why the party of Lincoln is fast becoming the party of Jim Crow with GOP state legislatures and Governors working overtime to limit access to the polls in ways that disproportionately affect college students, minorities, and the elderly.
Up in Maine, Republican Governor Paul LePage tried to turn the clock back on his state’s long history of same-day voter registration by signing legislation that outlawed the practice.
Wouldn’t you know it? Like residents in Ohio and Mississippi, Mainers were more than happy to veto their Governor, restoring same-day voter registration by a lopsided margin at the polls.
What dissection of the Republican platform would be complete without a look at marriage equality?
In Iowa, Republicans and hate groups like the National Organization for Marriage invested heavily in a special election that could have taken the State Senate majority away from Democrats -- the only thing standing in the way of their efforts to repeal marriage equality. They failed.
Not only did they flop in Iowa, but a wave of openly gay and lesbian candidates were elected across the country.
Republicans aren’t finding themselves on the ropes because they “overreached.”
They’ve been rejected because they acted like, well, Republicans.
Karl Frisch is a syndicated columnist and Democratic strategist at Bullfight Strategies in Washington, D.C. He can be reached at KarlFrisch.com. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and YouTube, or sign up to receive his columns and updates by email.