In the afterglow of Obama’s resounding second term victory much will be written about the popular vote, a still-divided nation and the need for compromise.
When the chattering classes and the closet centrists in the GOP finish skeletonizing the desiccated carcass of the Romney campaign and prescribing a cure for the GOP’s demographic presbyopia we’re going to hear a lot about the absence of a mandate.
Not so fast.
While the popular vote suggests a nation bifurcated at its roots, it is, to use a favorite notion in the vernacular of the right, not a legitimate 50/50 division and Obama should not lead based on that assumption. No one questions that a considerable percentage of the GOP vote was against Obama and NOT for Romney. During those unending Republican debates it was clear to any reasoned observer that an uninspiring Romney was a reluctant choice for the tea party led right.
That faction was not running against President Obama but an imagined bogeyman, the angry, un-american, Kenyan, socialist apologist in league with the dark powers of the UN, Europeans, terrorists and science. Limbaugh, Walsh, West, Bachmann, Trump, Aiken, Broun, take your pick, these were the voices fanning the flames of irrationality.
We don’t know yet when or if the tea party fever will break, but I doubt it.
That parochial, reactionary America is in decline. It has isolated itself in superstition and paranoia and it may choose to perish in its ideological bunker rather than come out and experience the real world. So be it.
As a result it’s not reasonable or defensible to argue that this group should be counted in the political calculus moving forward. It may be difficult to precisely estimate their contribution to the GOP vote total but let’s go with half. Twenty-five percent of the voting public stood with, believed in, sympathized with or deferred to the lunatic fringe. They are unaffected by facts, resistant to change, and painfully ignorant.
So when we talk about mandates let’s excise this sorry tribe and feel secure in the direction that America has chosen. President Obama should, and I believe will, act confidently in this watershed second term. I have no fears that events will overtake him. He has proven more than a match for these times, and the country and world is better for it. It’s a new America where there’s plenty of room for conservatives but the crazies; we’re leaving them behind.