After a nasty, long and supremely divisive election season, the public has spoken.
And the winners are …. the people.
We can’t tell you we’re sorry to say goodbye to all the vitriolic pre-election speech we’ve been subjected to in recent months (we also can’t begin to imagine what voters in those swing states have been suffering through by way of campaign commercials).
But we are rather pleased by the outcome. Namely because it would seem that, in the end, democracy prevailed and in a political season marked by many words, it is the public who ultimately had the last one.
And that word is this — never underestimate the public when it comes to forming opinions about what they will and won’t swallow in terms of messages.
This season also taught us that all the personal wealth in the world can’t buy an election. Republican Linda McMahon was handily defeated by Democrat Christopher Murphy for Senate in Connecticut on Tuesday night after spending $40 million of her own money on her campaign. It’s the second time she was defeated in her pursuit of a senate seat in the state. In 2010, she dropped $60 million of her personal fortune on her campaign — just imagine what good could have been done with all that money.
And speaking of all that money, in recent years, it’s become clear that political parties and their behind-the-scenes manipulators have become masters of the message. In the race to affect what the voting public believes, when it comes to bashing an opponent any topic is fair game to be twisted, enhanced, disguised, blown up and distorted in 30 and 60 second increments ready for prime time. Now, with the endless availability of Super PAC money, those messages can be “brought to you by” … not a specific candidate, but a shadowy constituency with unknown motives all its own.
Which brings us back to the people.
Ultimately whether you backed winning candidates this year or not, there’s one thing you can’t deny — and that’s the fact that “we the people” are a rapidly changing demographic that doesn’t always buy what big money is selling. One need only study the sea of faces in the crowds at President Obama and Governor Romney’s respective election night celebrations for evidence of that.
At Romney’s event, the crowd was overwhelmingly white and overwhelmingly male. Obama’s crowd, on the other hand, looked like America — a multi-ethnic melting pot of people of all races, religions and ages. It’s a group that reflects where this nation is heading, not where it’s been and it’s no accident that gay marriage initiatives were passed throughout the country while the outcome of the presidential race in many places was determined not by white males, but by Latinos, African-Americans, women and the young.
And no amount of PAC money is likely going to change that. Which leads us to believe that there’s probably a lot of talk in Republican corners about strategy going forward.
Perhaps ABC analyst (and former GOP strategist) Matthew Dowd put it best when, on the morning after the election, he said, “Republicans are a ‘Mad Men’ party in a ‘Modern Family’ world.”
We couldn’t agree more. It’s true, there may have been a time when “father knew best,” but from where we sit, he’s not the only authority in the household anymore.