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Article published November 16, 2012
Sensible voice for 99%
Michael Bagdes-Canning Cherry Valley
I’m sure there are Democratic operatives all over the country who hope that the Republican Party engages in the sort of unself-reflective analysis that Colleen Hroncich engaged in in her Nov. 9 letter to the editor. She sees a fundamentally changed country, but she fails to see the real change. She sees folks who, to use the insensible synthesis of Bill O’Reilly, want stuff, want to be taken care of. This restating of Mitt Romney’s now-infamous “47 percent” comment merely shows how clueless and parochial some people are. Some silly Republicans will try to discount the magnitude of Obama’s victory, but a close look reveals some interesting math. In my lifetime, George W. Bush (twice), Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon had a smaller margin of victory than Obama’s 3.1 million in this election. Obama’s margin measured in percent mirrors Bush’s in 2004 (Obama’s 2.6 percent to Bush’s 2.46 percent). His electoral college majority is larger than John Kennedy’s, Richard Nixon’s (the first term), Jimmy Carter’s, and Bush’s (both terms). Some deluded Republicans will point to the retention of the U.S. House of Representatives as some sort of victory, but that is illusory. Pointing to the House of Representatives, though cathartic, will be pointing to a symptom, not a solution (gerrymandered districts). Our system is so broken, even with the job-approval rating for Congress sitting at record lows, 98 percent of incumbents are re-elected. Tellingly, even though Republicans hold a commanding 35-vote majority in the House, they were outpolled by Democrats nationally: Democrats, 48.8 percent, to Republicans, 48.47 percent. Why did Romney and the Republicans lose? It sure wasn’t because people wanted stuff. They wanted respect. Romney and the Republicans managed to alienate large swaths of the electorate. Voter-suppression efforts in several states (including Pennsylvania), immigrant-bashing, trying to legislate morality, denying science (legitimate rape and climate-change), pandering to an angry Tea Party base in the spring and then tripping over himself to get closer to the center in the fall — all motivated people to get out and vote. But before Democrats get too giddy, they need to recognize that their butts were saved by Republican extremism and incompetence. Large numbers of dissatisfied progressives and independents held their noses and voted for Obama and Democrats because the alternative was so scary. Some elected to vote for a third-party candidate. Obama, in his second term, and the Democrats cannot take those voting blocs for granted. Those of us who would like to see an alternative to the corporate uniparty (take your pick: Democan or Republicrat) hope that both parties will see the changing topography of our electorate and respond to it. We need a sensible voice for the 99 percent.