By Stephen Dick
— “You don’t need a weatherman, to know which way the wind blows”
— Bob Dylan
“When you win, there is . . . a feeling that the people have spoken and embraced your point of view. And that’s what I intend to tell Congress, that I made it clear what I intend to do as the president, now let’s work.”
Do you remember President Obama saying this in his Chicago acceptance speech? No? It does seem a little arrogant. That’s because George W. Bush said it in 2004 when he squeaked past John Kerry with 286 electoral votes
and immediately claimed a mandate.
Obama’s electoral tally was 303, and it looks like he’ll get Florida. Mandate? You bet, though far-right shrink Charles Krauthammer announced as soon as Obama won Ohio that the president didn’t have a mandate. It’s funny how that shoe-on-the-other-foot business
It’s one of the immensely pleasurable aspects of Obama’s victory that far-right commentators and Fox News get to mull over the fact that their pet issues are dead in the water in a nation where the demographics are changing rapidly.
Karl Rove was apoplectic on Fox News as the network began to call Ohio, and thus the presidency, for Obama. He couldn’t fathom
that all the millions spent by his Crossroads Super PAC couldn’t put the nation in a time machine and send it back to the Gilded Age.
Ditto the Wall Street Journal editorial page, which will exhaust itself in the next four years tilting at imaginary socialist windmills with its army of think-tank shysters.
This was an important election for liberals. The Senate remained firmly in Democratic control, though the House stayed with Republicans. Maybe Obama can display a little of Bush’s chutzpah in dealing with Congress. He needs to work with Congress but not cave in. The fiscal cliff is the top priority (so everyone says), but Obama should make it clear that the Bush tax cuts for those making over $250,000 a year are history. Like California did.
Besides the hippies who flooded the polls in Colorado to vote for a legal Rocky Mountain high, the most interesting referendum occurred in California where residents cast their votes for Proposition 30, which raises the sales tax and taxes on the wealthy in order to prevent $5 billion in cuts to education and services.
The Golden State is immediately going to cut tuition rates and use these tax increases to improve education and the lives of all Californians.
The conservative backlash to big government actually got its start in California in 1978 with Proposition 13, which capped property taxes and sent the state into years of declining standards of life and deficit
spending. Californians got tired of the forced austerity of tax cuts that never benefitted ordinary people. It’s only a matter of time before the nation does the same.
Obama owes his victory to minorities, workers and Millennials. Call it the minority majority. They combined to neuter the white vote, which has been dominant in every election since the beginning the of the nation. Whites overwhelmingly supported Romney, even white women. But a new day is dawning.
Republicans will be busy with the blame game for their loss, but they’re going to have to look deeply into their cherished beliefs (laissez faire economics, militarization, demonizing immigrants, anti-women policies) and affiliations with, among others, the toxic teabaggers who hopefully saw their world crumble.
Republicans have been marching steadily right since 1980, but they’ve hit a wall. When they move back to the center, there will be Obama waiting to work with them.
Stephen Dick is an editor of The Herald Nulletoin in Anderson, Ind. Contact him at