The GOP’s Response to Defeat Exposes Their Short Game

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney (Photo credit: Dave Delay)

Both George Will and Glenn Beck told us that Romney was going to win the election with 321 electoral votes. Karl Rove told us that Romney would win with at least 279 electoral votes. Dick Morris said Romney’s total would be 325. Ann Coulter‘s number for Romney was 273. Newt Gingrich promised that Romney would get at least 300. Gingrich, Rove, Morris, and Pat Buchanan promised their followers that the Republicans would win back the Senate.

Despite what these Republicans predicted, Obama won 332 electoral votes to Romney’s 206, and the Democrats made gains in both the House and Senate. Any way you cut it, election night was not good news for Republicans. On the morning after, there was much hand-wringing over what the GOP must do to be able to start winning again.

At the very least, I expected to see the Republicans begin to acknowledge that their mandate from 2010 was over. I expected to see them soften some of there opposition and begin moving back to the center. After all they no longer are in a position of strength politically. Demographics have turned, and the GOP cannot survive as the party of old white men for very much longer, right?

What I’ve seen instead has been a rush to double down on the policies that made them losers in 2012. In states where the Republicans have majorities, they have been hurriedly passing laws against unions, immigrants, gay marriage, and abortion. At first I didn’t understand this. Were these people not paying attention? It is easy to imagine that one’s political opponents are idiots, but that is never the case.

My best guess at this point is that precisely because Republicans see that history is not on their side and demographics will make it more and more difficult for them to maintain their power, they are rushing to enshrine as much of their reactionary policies into law as they can before they lose that power. The more laws and state constitutional amendments they can pass banning everything they don’t like, the longer it will take for progressives to unwind their policies. The more they injure labor unions and restrict voting, the more they can privilege their own political strength and delay their eventual defeat. Rather than trying to “evolve” into an opposition party with compelling ideas for the 21st century, they are playing the short game of trying to use their current power to circumvent the will of the American people for as long as possible. The GOP seems to have lost the concept that once elected, politicians are supposed to represent all of their constituents while they are in office.

Few Republicans have much use for John Maynard Keynes, but I think they are embracing one of his famous quotes: “In the long run we are all dead.” Republicans don’t seem to have any interest in playing the long game here, after all most of their current base will be long gone by the time the Democrats can turn back their policies.

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