The Election Mandate: Zero Tolerance for Extremism

Like many progressives, I went to sleep on Tuesday night with an easier mind. I knew that I was waking up on Wednesday to President Barack Obama for a second term.

But the post-mortem for conservatives began before election night was over. On CNN, Republican pundit Alex Castellanos was dissecting Mitt Romney’s political approach and why it wasn’t effective, apparently bracing himself for a Romney loss. And on Fox, Karl Rove was frantically rifling through papers, desperately searching for a way, mathematically, that Ohio could still tilt to a Romney win.  But despite the apparently universal interest in Megyn Kelly’s legs when she walked around the studio to the “decision team” to get the final call on the presidential winner, the race was already a foregone conclusion. Karl Rove had a very bad night, and on Wednesday he found himself hit on all sides, blamed for the political losses in races his PAC backed.  As Donald Trump tweeted, “Congrats to @KarlRove on blowing $400 million this cycle. Every race @CrossroadsGPS ran ads in, the Republicans lost. What a waste of money.” His words were prophetic, with the consensus being that after throwing $390 million dollars at Republican races nationwide, more of the candidates who Rove’s PAC backed should have won. In the end, ten of the twelve Senate candidates and four of the nine House candidates the PAC supported lost their races.

I never thought I’d say this, but the losses in this race aren’t Karl Rove’s fault. Or the fault of any big-money Super PAC that threw money at Republican races across the country. No, the fault lies with the Republican platform, the message that it conveys, and the extremists who guide it.

It was truly delightful to watch Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin lose to Claire McCaskill. I was thrilled that Richard Mourdock, who commented that “pregnancy from rape is something god intended,” lost to Joe Donnelly. After his comment that “some girls rape easy,” Wisconsin’s Roger Rivard was beaten by his Democratic opponent, Stephen Smith. Joe Walsh, deadbeat dad extraordinaire and right-wing House extremist, lost his Illinois seat to Tammy Duckworth. Infamous misogynist Allen West has lost (pending his demand for a recount) his House seat to Democrat Patrick Murphy. (I hate to break it to West, but losing by only 3,000 votes is still losing.) Republican Linda McMahon, after spending millions of her own wealth on the race, and at the 11th hour pretending to be aligned with President Obama to win, lost to Democrat Chris Murphy. Democrat Elizabeth Warren beat Scott Brown in Massachusetts. Tea Party darling Michele Bachmann barely squeaked out a victory for her House seat, winning by only one percentage point.

Americans are done with crazy, we’re done with needless obstruction, we’re done with other peoples’ religious views being the driving force behind legislation for all of us. From its stance on immigration (“self-deportation”), gay rights, health insurance for all Americans, its smirking disdain for the poor (“food stamp President”), its near total rejection of a woman’s competence in caring for her own contraception, her own health, and her own reproductive rights, the Republican Party has been rejected. With  its presumed leader, Mitt Romney, clearly dismissing that “47%” of the country that he doesn’t believe can be counted on to care for their own lives or be responsible, productive citizens (translation:  a bunch of losers feeding at the public trough), the Republican Party has allowed itself to be taken over, led by, and beholden to the Tea Party and its extremist leaders and values. And there hasn’t been a Republican leader yet who will stand up to them.  Until someone with intelligence and sense emerges on the right with the strength to stand up to its zealots, the Republican Party has worn out its welcome.

Many conservatives and independents didn’t vote against Mitt Romney, individually.  They simply voted out the Republican Party, a party that appears, and, in fact, is, unable to adapt or compromise its rigid right-wing views to fit the mainstream of America. Republicans can blame Karl Rove all they want, but he didn’t craft the party platform; he just used his PAC’s millions of dollars to advance it.  And the message was rejected, despite being wrapped in a $390 million package.

The unequivocal mandate has been sent by Americans to Republicans, and the extremists in their midst who now define the Party – a Party that advocates tossing out humanity and compassion, and replacing it with bigotry, misogyny and religious zealotry:  Zero tolerance.