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The night of Nov. 6 should have been a lesson to our friends on the Right. Despite weeks of living in complete denial regarding what Nate Silver and other number geeks were saying about the race, conservatives remained locked in their hermetically-sealed echo chamber, choosing gut feelings over the facts — and were cold-cocked by the truth when Ohio went for Obama.
As MSNBC host Rachel Maddow said the following day, conservatives, “… are going to need to pop the factual bubble they have been so happy living inside if they do not want to get shellacked again.”
Frankly, I don’t see that happening. In the days following the election, the GOP continued to deny climate change, held fast to the chimera of voter fraud, vilified immigrants, opposed marriage equality and pressed for the dismantling of the social safety net, seemingly oblivious to those issues that led a majority of Americans to reject Republicans. Rather than wondering how they got it so wrong, the GOP continued to embrace their base (and baser) elements, not rejecting the birther lunatic fringe. Not one chastised the idiots who claimed that Osama bin Laden’s death was a fraud. They couldn’t even own up to the fact that not one, but two (failed) senatorial candidates tried to redefine rape in defiance of medical science and simple common sense, not really a surprise given that almost 60 percent of Republicans reject evolution.
Yet, instead of engaging in significant soul-searching or seeking some semblance of self-awareness, conservatives instead wrapped themselves back up in their magic Snuggies and blamed the “takers,” opting to raise the ante by painting the 52 percent who elected President Obama for a second term with Romney’s pejorative 47 percent brush.
Failing to acknowledge that a systemic effort by teabaggers to intimidate minority voters and party functionaries to suppress Democratic voting had backfired miserably (actually motivating those voters to go to the polls), conservative pundits expressed dismay that minorities and young people were willing to endure nine-hour waiting lines in order to vote for Barack Obama.
What conservatives don’t realize was that last Tuesday was not just a strategic failure, but an ideological one. The “takers” that the GOP so dismissively renounces aren’t lazy ne’er-do-wells, but hardworking Americans who, under a system of income disparity unrivaled since the Gilded Age, struggle to support their families, often needing some sort of government assistance. Those “takers” believe that it’s time top earners start paying their fair share in taxes and that the financial services industry should be regulated and that it’s finally time our country joined the rest of the developed nations in providing citizens with healthcare. They believe that success is built on all our backs, but should reward the person who made their dream a reality.
In future elections, the GOP will not only learn that it burned its bridges with tens of millions of voters but, more importantly, it has moved into an ideological wilderness that does not reflect the values of 21st-century America.