Last night, President Barack Obama won a second term, with a pretty sizable electoral majority of 332 votes (if you count Florida). The American people sent a pretty loud message to the Republican party last night. But did the GOP actually hear it? Only time will tell. My early guess, though? Probably not.
When Republicans lost in a landslide in 2008, they took the wrong lesson from the election results. The nation said to Republicans that they wanted the party to change its tune. And they did... but in the absolutely wrong direction. Republicans shoved their moderates out of their party with brute force, labeling anyone and everyone that called for bipartisanship or worked with democrats on anything as "RINOs" (Republicans In Name Only). Fueled by the angry rhetoric and terrifying vitriol of the TEA Party, the Republican party went as far to the right as they could possibly push themselves, relying on an unpleasant mixture of their radical right-wing base and fired-up low-information voters to create a party that had only one serious agenda: make Barack Obama a one-term president.
Well, they failed. And they failed big.
The future of the Republican party hinges on what happens over the course of the next few days and weeks. They're at a crossroads, and there are only two routes for them to travel. The high-road, where they reshape the core ideologies of their party and strive toward attracting the moderate centrist voters that decide elections, or the low-road, where they move even further to the right (if that's even possible) and do everything they can to derail the nation's progress for the faulty vision of sheer political gain.
Changing the party doesn't mean changing their core beliefs. Republicans could adopt responsible fiscal conservatism, and moderate social libertarianism. That would mean putting American citizens ahead of lobbyists, and small businesses ahead of corporations. It would mean making concessions in social policies, for the sake of picking up ideological ground in the same swoop. It would mean reaching across the aisle and working with democrats to develop true bipartisan legislation that both sides are happy with, and both sides give up some ground on. It would mean honestly praising President Obama for the good, humbly criticizing him for the bad, and maturely disagreeing or agreeing on everything in the middle.
If republicans actually did that; reformed their party completely and made themselves out to be the sensible, mature adults at the table, they'd win a lot of elections moving forward. Or, they can go the other way; keep spouting angry rhetoric and keep working tirelessly to derail the entire country just for the opportunity to blame it on Democrats. The latter option will cause the Republican party to go the way of the Whigs... mark my words.
I'm a Democrat, but I want both parties to work together to solve the nations problems. I believe Democrats should be the idealists, always looking toward a more progressive future, while Republicans are the realists, limiting that progress to a reasonable pace and making sure we move forward rationally and patiently. The compromise is where real progress is made; we could move forward more quickly, but less responsibly, without it, or not move forward at all.
And one more thing. If you're a Republican, and this whole message of mine angered you, then I'm sorry to report that yes, you're a part of the problem. And it hurts your party more than it hurts mine.