Watching Republican astonishment over Mitt Romney’s loss on Nov. 6 has been a revelation. “We went into the evening confident we had a good path to victory,” said one senior Romney adviser. “I don’t think there was one person who saw this coming.”
There was, actually. His name is Nate Silver. But when your party has embraced anti-intellectualism and faith-based math to the point where you trust a huckster with no statistics training and his “unskewed polls” instead of an actual statistician who ended up calling all but one race correctly . . . well, frankly, you deserve defeat.
What’s most disturbing, though, is the utter lack of introspection about the real reasons for defeat. “I don’t think we lost it on those budget issues, especially on Medicare — we clearly didn’t lose it on those issues,” Paul Ryan said in an interview with WISC-TV. Well, I hate to break it to you, Congressman, but exit polls showed voters preferred the President’s position on Medicare by 52 percent to 44 percent.
Even my colleague, contributing columnist Heath W. Fahle, seems to have succumbed to the collective inability to face difficult truths.
“President Obama’s dominance with self-described moderates . . . winning 56 percent compared to Gov. Romney’s 42 percent, highlights the extent to which the Republican brand in New England is damaged by perceived extremism.”
Until someone in the Republican Party has the courage to drop the word “perceived” and actually call out the very real extremism in the party platform, the GOP will continue to lose those moderates.
But here’s where Fahle, like so many other Republicans, really misses it: “It is most striking though that in an era of transformative economic and social change, Connecticut’s voters mostly endorsed the status quo.”
If that’s the message Republicans are taking away from this election, they a’re going remain out of office for the foreseeable future. Because the vote wasn’t just for the status quo. It was against extremism and GOP economic policies.
If you ever want to win elections again, turn off Fox News, because you have to stop listening to people like Bill O’Reilly, who feeds youthis kind of narrative:
“It’s not a traditional America anymore. And there are 50 percent of the voting public who want stuff. They want things and who is going to give them things? President Obama. He knows it and he ran on it . . . the voters, many of them, feel that this economic system is stacked against them and they want stuff. You’re going to see a tremendous Hispanic vote for President Obama. Overwhelming for President Obama and women will probably break President Obama’s way. People feel that they are entitled to things and which candidate, between the two, is going to give them things?”
The only accurate statements in O’Reilly’s insulting rant — the tone of which sums up why women (55 percent overall, 68 percent of singles), Latinos (71 percent), Afro-American (93 percent), Asian (73 percent), all voted to re-elect the President — are that it’s not a traditional white America anymore, and voters believe the economic system is stacked against them. In the AP exit poll 55 percent of voters agreed with the statement that the U.S. economic system generally favors the wealthy. What’s more, the data show that they’re right.
During the latter part of the campaign, Mitt Romney kept repeating the phrase “trickle down government” like it was a pearl of Luntzian genius. It might have played well to the Republican base, but it reminded the rest of us of the fallacy of “trickle down economics,” and merely highlighted that Romney & Ryan were trying to pull that tired voodoo wool over our eyes again.
Because the reality is this: from the late 1970s to the mid-2000s, in every state in this nation, the richest fifth of households enjoyed larger income gains in dollar terms each year ($2,550, after adjusting for inflation) than the poorest fifth experienced during the entire three decades ($1,330), according toa study released yesterday by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Economic Policy Institute. If that’s trickle down economics then I’ve got a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.
To put this in perspective, in the late 1970s the top 20 percent of households had 5.2 times the income of the poorest 20 percent. By the mid-2000s this ratio had grown to 8.3. In the late 1970s, only six states had a top-to-bottom ratio of more than 6.0. By the mid-2000s, only one state had a top-to-bottom ratio of less than 6.0.
The 2001 and 2003 federal tax cuts, which benefited the wealthiest households, only served to further widen the income gap between the wealthy and the low- and moderate-income households. All this rhetoric about not taxing “job creators” is just Luntzian doublespeak like changing “inheritance tax” to “death tax.”
Here in Connecticut the story is no different — in fact, the gap between the rich and the poor grew faster here than in any other state, according to Pulling Apart: Connecticut Income Inequality 1977 to Present, a study released yesterday by Connecticut Voices for Children and CAHS. Thirty years ago, our state was a much more egalitarian place. Now we are one of the unequal states in the nation. What’s astonishing is that those at the 95th percentile of income, earning low six figures, are closer in income to the poorest 20 percent in income than to the wealthiest 1 percent.
The Republicans tried to frame this election in Randian terms of Makers and Takers, writing off 47 percent of Americans as “moochers.” What they fail to recognize is that the voters they insult are hard working people who still want to believe the American Dream is possible.
Sarah Darer Littman is an award-winning columnist and novelist of books for teens. Long before the financial meltdown, she worked as a securities analyst and earned her MBA in Finance from the Stern School at NYU.