Watching the results come in last night, the difference between those who supported President Obama and those who supported Mitt Romney was obvious. Personally, despite how I cast my ballot, I felt as if I didn't have a dog in the fight. I watched more or less as a dispassionate observer (and as someone determined to get some giggles out of Twitter). So it was interesting to me that President Obama's supporters seemed confident, assured, and jubilant that their candidate was going to be given a second term to grow his legacy. Meanwhile, those supporting Mitt Romney looked as if someone had died.
In a sense, there was a death in last night's election. The Republican party's decades long strategy may have produced a narrow margain in the popular vote, but the proof of the pudding was in the Electoral College tally: for Mitt Romney to win the presidency, an awful lot of blue states had to turn red. That didn't happen.
And if the GOP continues on the same path, it won't happen for a very long time.
Let me share some words with you from Dr. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and quite the conservative fellow. This was from Dr. Mohler's blog post today:
"No party can win if it is seen as heartless. No party can win if it appeals only to white and older Americans. No party can win if it looks more like the way to the past than the way to the future. The Republican Party could not defeat a sitting President with a weak economy and catastrophic unemployment. As columnist George Will has said, a party that cannot win under these circumstances might need to look for another line of work."
Let me say, "Spot on."
I know plenty of people who feel like the GOP no longer speaks for them. They feel alienated from the party because of its stance on immigration, abortion, gay marriage and other issues, but mainly because they feel the party is the last bastion of old, rich, white people. Fair or not, that's the perception. And perception has a lot to do with how votes are cast.
Just ask Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock.
On the flip side, when you consider that President Obama just won with big majorities among minority voters (women, African-Americans, Latinos), you see a party - despite advancing some positions some consider too extreme - that a large number of people believe is inclusive.
You can lay this election result at the feet of people chasing entitlements, or folks being too ignorant to see the President's shortcomings; you can write it off to a weak GOP candidate, or the ill-timed issues of Superstorm Sandy; but when people sit down and take a look at the election, what they'll find is that in the swing states that mattered most on the road to the presidency, voters took a look at the GOP, its platform and candidate, and said, "No thank you."
The GOP needs to go back to the drawing board. Throw out its platform. Abandon the same-old, same-old. Take a long hard look at the new America and then take some time to re-think how their worldview best addresses the needs of our changing nation. Then, they need to go out and live accordingly. It may take a few election cycles to find candidates that can best reach the people in those key states. It may take some painful crashes and burns with the hardcore members of the party until the reality sets in.
But rest assured, as several pundits pointed out last night, the GOP won't be able to reclaim the White House as long as it only wins the states it's been winning the last few elections. To make inroads where it matters, the GOP is going to have to do some work.
The question is, will the Radical Right do the radically right thing?