I know it’s early, but I have a sinking feeling the Republican Party is taking all the wrong lessons from last week’s election. Short term, that’s a boon for Democrats. Long term, it’s a problem for the country.That's how he begins his Friday morning Washington Post column, which as is often the case with Robinson is not merely lucid but cuts directly to the point. He notes that Newt Gingrich of all people is worth listening to, especially on realizing why he - and many in the Republican party - were so wrong on what was going to happen - if they were that far off, what they need to do to understand America.
One thing they clearly should not do is claim any kind of mandate because they held the House. We here know that is an artifact of gerrymandered districts, that more people voted for Dems for the House than for Republicans, Failure to carry your home city (Ryan) or home states (Romney) is one indication of your lack of mandate. So is losing the electoral college 332-206. Most of all, given how the President campaigned and what the people have said to pollsters, there is no doubt the country is ready to raise taxes on incomes over $250,000.
For Robinson, there is more than this that the Republicans should consider . . .
Some conservatives even seem tempted to listen to the delusional postgame analysis coming from Romney and Ryan. This is the way to ridicule and ruin.
Take for example Ryan's comment about voters in "urban" areas, clearly code words for minorities. Robinson points out that the real problem was Republicans losing in vote-heavy suburbs in places like Fairfax County VA. According to Quick Facts from the US Census, in 2011 Fairfax had 1,100,692 of Virginia's 8,096,604 people, and was growing at 1.5 times the rate of the state as whole. Romney not only lost there, but in the other major population jurisdictions of the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington DC: Loudoun County (325,405), Prince William County (419,006), Arlington County (216,004), and Alexandria City (144.301), all of which are growing faster than the state as a whole, and which as a total contain more than 1/4 of the state's population. Similar patterns could be seen in many suburban areas.
Robinson then deconstructs the comments Romney made to fundraisers in the now infamous phone chat about "gifts" by noting
It doesn’t occur to Romney that Republicans might have countered this alleged gift-giving with a health-care reform plan of their own, other than “go to the emergency room.” If the GOP is really this obtuse, Democrats may win the next few elections without having to break a sweat. And that’s the danger I hope we avoid.Of course, the Republicans originally DID have a health care reform plan of their own, because Obamacare was based on Romneycare which was based on a design from the Heritage Foundation - which is not exactly a bastion of liberal or Democratic thought on issues.
I am not sure I would agree that Democrats would win without breaking a sweat. There were other issues involved in this election besides the ideas on policy. Clearly there was a rejection of Republican positions on social issues, whether it is the framing of Makers versus Takers which was clearly presented in the infamous tape of the 47%, and also in the misogyny of the likes of Todd Akin and Richard Mourdoch (and of course Paul Ryan, given his co-sponsorship of legislation with Akins, and in the homophobia and racism of so many whose words seem to guide the Republican party, including the remarks of "urban" areas. Still, absent addressing the failure to reach so many parts of the American fabric, Republicans do confront the reality of the changing demographics on the one hand, and the changing social attitudes on the other.
Robinson is not interested in a two-party system for the purity of the political science model:
Don’t get me wrong: I want progressive candidates to win those elections. But parties without meaningful competition become flabby, lazy, unresponsive. Democratic candidates shouldn’t win by default, and neither should progressive ideas. A smart, creative, reality-based conservative movement is ultimately good for the liberal cause — and good for the country.I would go further. I think it healthy that the Democratic party have a real and clear political opponent, so that we can once and for all move away from the false meme of this being a center-right country, and that even the more conservative Dems recognize the need to refocus less on the framing as presented from the Right and more on the real needs and aspirations of the American people. I think statewide votes on marriage equality and marijuana are a clear indication of how much of the country has rejected the cultural conservatism so beloved by many on the Right, and the clear data on more equitable taxation also indicates that America is ready for a different message than the trickle down economics and kowtowing to the more powerful among the business community has given us in recent times.
Robinson concludes his piece like this:
Step out of the echo chamber, Republicans. There’s a big country out there, and it’s trying to tell you something. For the sake of party and nation, try listening.I agree. I would also add something else - I truly hope Democrats, from the President to the more centrist and conservative Senators and House Members, also pay attention to the what the country is trying to tell them.
And it is not what the punditry and the denizens of the Village are saying.
It is that this country is hungry for real needs to be addressed.