As I did offer some notes yesterday to the some (but not all!) white males freaking out about Obama winning a second term, I figure it might be worth it to give a couple of notes to those who are thrilled about his re-election. Seems fair, etc. So:
1. It’s been a week. You can crank back the schadenfreude. Yes, it’s time. There’s only so much poking of wounded conservatives you can do before you cross the line into just being an asshole about it.
2. Don’t get cocky. Obama won by almost exactly the same popular vote margin as George Bush won in 2004. While the point is taken that in presidential elections it’s the electoral votes that count, and that getting 271 of those is just as good as getting 400 in terms of job placement, it’s worth recognizing that among the citizenry, there’s a close-to-even split on how to run this particular railroad. Which dovetails nicely with the next point:
3. The mid-terms elections are out there. And the mid-term elections a) historically tend to favor the non-incumbent presidential party, b) tend to be decided by a smaller, more-committed group of voters. Which is to say: Hey, remember the 2010 elections? Don’t think it can’t happen again. It can, and it very well may.
4. 2012’s electoral coalition isn’t automatically permanent. In the short-term? Sure, it’ll likely cohere for a couple election cycles at least. But, for example, if the GOP genuinely reaches out to Hispanics — more than the now grossly-obvious rush to embrace immigration reform — I don’t think it’s impossible that many Hispanics will find elements of the GOP platform attractive. As another example, if same-sex marriage becomes a settled issue in the US, I know enough gays whose economic point of view would make conservatism a congenial intellectual home for them (aside from, you know, the ones who are already there).
5. Don’t think the GOP is stupid. Yes, it got its ass handed to it by Obama’s high-tech/low-tech combo of exhaustive quant analysis and field operatives knocking on doors. That’s going to work once. When 2016 comes around, the GOP will have baked that into their operation, and they’ll have some new strategies to try out too. And if whoever is the 2016 Democratic candidate tries to run a 2012 campaign, he or she will get their ass handed to them, too. And in the meantime the GOP is going to do what it does, namely, finding ways to block and frustrate Obama’s and the Democrat’s legislative agenda. They’re good at it, too. They own the House of Representatives, remember?
6. Don’t think the most reactionary conservatives are actually going to “go Galt.” That’s just the reactionary conservative version of “moving to Canada.” Just as liberals didn’t rush the border in 2004, neither are these folks going to crawl into a bunker, or crevasse, or seastead or whatever. They’re going to stay where they are, they’re eventually going to calm down, and then they’re going to get back to what it is they do. This is real world, and it’s really hard to flounce out of it.
7. Don’t think you know what the future will bring. Hey, around this time 2004, did you think the dude just elected as the junior senator from Illinois would be president? Had you even heard of him? I knew of him very vaguely, mostly because he won his seat against Alan Keyes, who had been recruited when the former Republican candidate fell out because of a sex scandal. Illinois, man. When he announced his presidential candidacy in February 2007, did anyone think he was going to be anything other than a speedbump for Hilary Clinton? If you think you know how 2016 is going to play out, you may be deluding yourself.
8. Nothing’s been decided but who was elected president. I mentioned this last Wednesday, but it bears repeating. Obama’s got four more years. Everything else? We’ll see. And if you thought you were going to be able to lie back for the next four years, guess again. No one else is taking the time off. The GOP isn’t. Almost certainly Obama isn’t.