Poems, Prayers, and Promises

John Denver released an album by this name in 1971, which pretty much set him on his way. The title song had the lines

How long it’s been since yesterday
And what about tomorrow
What about our dreams
And all the memories we share

Tomorrow morning, if the results are known, one side or the other will awaken with these questions foremost in their minds, although maybe not as eloquently spoken as by John Denver. If most predictions hold, it’s Mitt Romney who has lost, then there will likely be much Old Testament-style weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, because of the intense dislike – hatred, really – the right has held for President Obama and his policies. Given recent history, there’s no reason to believe that the reaction within the Republican Party will be one that changes the course of the party back towards moderation. Doing so would require too many people, both leaders and supporters, to admit that their headlong drive to the extreme right was wrong. And there simply aren’t enough moderate voices of consequence among Republicans today to influence that reaction. So we can expect, probably, a putsch against those who will be perceived as not hard-line enough on conservative litmus-test issues. Romney, deservedly or not, will be one of those rapidly pushed aside. He was never considered “one of us” by the Tea Party segment, and while they accepted the inevitability of his candidacy as the one chance to defeat Obama, his loss will become one huge “I told you so” moment for them. Ever since Richard Nixon’s “silent majority” of 1969, Republicans have believed there was this huge mass of voters who, against any obvious evidence, were “with them” on their core issues, and this belief has remained over the past 43 years, through election wins and losses. The victories of Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984, George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004, and the Tea Party-led wave election of 2010 were seen as confirmation of this silently conservative voting bloc; the losses to Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama were generally pictured as the fault of candidates who weren’t really conservatives, and so couldn’t energize this group. The idea that the Republican Party might possibly be moving too far to the right for mainstream America is utterly rejected as political apostasy. And so, we can expect another round of “purification” if Romney does lose.

Should projections prove wrong, and Obama is defeated, Democrats will have an entirely different tomorrow to face. There is no Tea Party equivalent on the left, no core set of issues that create a cohesive center. Obviously there are plenty of liberal issues – health care, education, environmentalism (even if its been largely absent in this election cycle) – but not the critical mass that gives the Republicans cohesion. Perhaps a defeat would create exactly that. Certainly, in the immediate aftermath of 2008, no one foresaw the rise of the Tea Party. But Democrats have always been longer on passion and shorter on organization, and that makes it more difficult to pick up the pieces and start anew. And if Obama loses, the possibility exists that enough Republican senate candidates will ride Romney’s coattails to victory to give them control of the Senate. That would cast the Democrats back into the wilderness they inhabited after the 2000 election. While they did eventually return, it took a superbly charismatic candidate in Barack Obama to re-energize them and bring them back. It will be a cold, lonely journey to find the next one.

November 6, 2012 В· Harry В· No Comments
Posted in: Politics

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