This is in no way snark. I think a lot of people will see this and say 'what are you talking about, we just beat back the so & sos'. But I'm going to tell you, for the first time in almost 20 years, I have real hope that the Republican Party has had a Goldwater moment and that fundamental change is afoot for future elections. Seriously.
Republicans will spend the next few weeks navel gazing. What went wrong, a lot of them will say. You'll get some republicans who will contend "we didn't go conservative enough", but I am betting heavily that message will not resonate in any way with the part of their party (and the part of every party, frankly) that matters - the people who donate money.
What was said loud and clear last night is that Social Issues killed Republicans. Social issues were the dooming factor they simply couldn't escape. Todd Akin's foot-in-mouth brought back women's rights issues in a storm. Gay rights ballots initiatives succeeded everywhere.
The electoral layout from here on out just doesn't work for the Republican model. By 2016, the population will be even more multicultural, and Republicans are already seeing it trend away from them. More people aligned themselves as atheist/agnostic in exit polls then ever before in 2012.
Republicans know that as long as their party platform remains so anti-choice, anti-gay, that they immediately write off a chance to win in 190 electoral votes before the race even starts. They have no shot in states from NY to California.
After Reagan, Republicans convinced themselves 'well, that's because they are so left wing', but what no one brought up is that in two runs for the white house, I don't remember Reagan ever standing up and saying anything like 'I'm a hardcore prolifer', Bush Sr. was famous for referring to them as the 'lunatic fringe' and people said that cost him 92 (it didn't.)
But what it has cost Republicans is basically 6 elections of super tight, electoral math elections that leave no one with a firm mandate. It's the ultimate in "small ball".
So, why am I more hopeful for the future of the (R)s? Let me say this: I believe Democracy is at it's best when their is a REASONED debate between two sides in ideological but legitimate debate. I think reasoned debate refines ideas and can strengthen both parties. We've jumped the trail on that.
But I think for all the navel gazing, I believe the monetary support for a fundamentalist in the Republican Party is over. Mitt Romney had institutional monetary support because the party believed he was moderate enough for a general election, and the money in the party didn't want a right winger - they crushed them at every step in the primaries.
So what happens here going forward? Republicans who ran ideologues in states like Missouri and Indiana, states that have become Republican strongholds, got destroyed. Because the real divide in the Republican party is that a huge slice of (R) voters now aren't voting on the religious-abortion-god-issues. If they were, nuts like Akin would have won in a state that Obama lost big.
No, what this shows you - and the establishment is that most Republicans may disagree on a lot of issues but despite the hard-sell by the religious right, even Republicans aren't single issue voters.
This is the Republican's chance to Reboot their party. To look to a nominee who will change stances on social issues.
We can say "that's doubtful". But I think Republicans are on the fast track to saying: this social issue stuff is a loser. And we may lose you religious loons, but you're not starting a 3rd party, and you'll go somewhere.. and we have no shot of winning if we stick with you.
Republicans will pay lip service - and in some times legitimate lip service - "I am personally pro-life, but that's not the role of government.." a statement they hiss at but frankly I find more personally true then statements that often get made. I am strongly personally pro-life; but that doesn't mean I want that opinion enforced on everyone else. I have made up my own personal mind, that's it. The availability of it doesn't harm me or change me in any way. Kind of the same way I feel about Peeps. I freaking hate Peeps. The candy makes me sick. But it doesn't mean I need to ban it for everyone.
In the end, Republicans are going to have to accept this viewpoint.
And they are frankly far closer to this reality today than they have been in years.
This, to most of America is good news. VERY good news. A democratic win is good and will be celebrated by the party. But the moment that the Republicans run a campaign where they remove the anti-abortion plank and say "I'm personally pro-life, but I'm not using the government to chase it" it is good for all Americans.
The moment Republicans say 'we're not about throwing out gay people' it's good for all Americans.
America deserves a country where BOTH parties represent legitimate clash over the role of government; where REASONED debate and serious disagreements can occur that lead us to a better level of discourse, and provide us a real discussion on where our country is going.
Is this their Goldwater moment? Is this the moment where the backers of the Republican party look at the math and realize that the hardcore conservative side is leading them down a rabbit hole of electoral futility? I really think so.
I think there are a lot of Republicans I may strongly disagree with but Republicans who want a real debate about issues they give a shit about and they want to not spend their time debating policies they don't believe in.
This could be their Goldwater moment. A time for wake up. Laura Ingrahm, as far right as you get, noted the obvious: "anytime you can't beat an incumbent in this kind of economy and with these kind of problems, you have to blow it up and figure out where you go next."
A reformed (R) party that presents real and honest clash over real issues would be good for our country. It would be good for women. It would be good for African Americans. It would be good for Hispanics. Because while they would represent an opposition to many issues we significantly believe in, for the first time in 20 years, they would be a clash of literal ideas instead of a clash of fear and hatred.
People have voted since 1992 as a matter of personal fear or hatred of the opposition. That's bad for America, no matter which side you are on.
I'm hopeful today. I'm hopeful because gay rights marriage amendments succeeded. Because Peurto Rico made a real move toward statehood last night. Because national demographics are changing. I'm hopeful that in the next election, we might actually have a shot of a race with real, honest disagreements - heated debates - but that the Republican Money will wake up and see the obvious: the electoral math will never work out now for a party that hate or religious ideology rules the conversation.
And as an American more then my party affiliation, THAT is what I am most hopeful for today.