The Real Winners in the 2012 Presidential Election
Aside from President bama and former Gov. Romney, there were several other winners and losers in Tuesday’s election. Many are obvious. Some are not quite so obvious.
Here are some of the biggest winners, listed in no particular order:
Note: This is Part 1. Coming next, Part 2 will list the biggest losers.
1. Civil Rights Activists / Gay Rights Proponents — The prospect of a majority vote in support of gay marriage would have been utterly unthinkable a few years ago. As recently as 2004, ballot measures on civil rights for all not only failed, but were cited as a key reason why former President George Bush mobilized his conservative voting base in some swing states and won re-election. No more. Last Tuesday, three states — including Maine, Maryland, and Washington — voted for ballot initiatives in support of gay marriage. The historical significance of this victory cannot be overstated. It’s the first time that a majority of voters (statewide) elected to support equal rights for gays. And, it didn’t happen in just one state — it happened in three. History will look back upon 2012 as a watershed year for true constitutional protection for all, much like 1964 was the key year for civil rights legislation.
2. Elizabeth Warren — A few years ago, Republicans were crowing, rightfully so, after winning the U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts vacated by Ted Kennedy following his death. The prospect of a Republican sitting in former Sen. Kennedy’s chair was more than just symbolic. But on Tuesday, Elizabeth Warren seized back the seat for Democrats, winning a decisive victory over the incumbent. Her resume as one of Wall Street’s harshest critics and most progressive advocates of the middle class should create some interesting fireworks in coming years. She is likely to be appointed to Senate committees on the oversight of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and will be a leading activist for consumers in what will hopefully be a reform period of the banking industry.
3. Lunatic-Fringe Merchants — In 2008, some of the biggest beneficiaries of Barack Obama’s victory were lunatics that pander to right-wing fears. Gun sellers, people obsessed with survival, gold sellers, Tea Party paraphernalia — all saw skyrocketing interest in their products and services. Gun sales reportedly doubled. Even gas mask sales enjoyed a renaissance. Fact is — President Barack Obama has been very good for these fringe businesses. The last thing these lunatic merchants want is a conservative leader back in the White House. Moreover, organizations like the National Rifle Association effectively pander to fears. They use scare tactics about their guns supposedly being taken away, and fundraising goes way up. Business is good for the crazies.
4. Bill Clinton — Former presidents rarely make a difference in elections after they’ve left office. 2012 was an exception. Former President Bill Clinton campaigned tirelessly for months alongside Obama and spent much of his time in key swing states — always drawing enthusiastic crowds. He gave a rousing address at the Democratic National Convention that prompted CNN’s Republican contributor to declare the election was “all but over.” Clinton hasn’t worked so hard since he last ran for re-election. By contrast, former President George W. Bush was nowhere to be found during the 2012 campaign. This stands as a striking reminder of how popular Clinton remains with many voters.
5. Libertarianism — The Ron Paul faction within the Republican Party will continue to grow. While unlikely to gain a majority anytime soon, the Libertarian wing is now able to say with some credibility, “we told you so.” No doubt, the Libertarian-leaning Republican movement will continue to grow and gain influence in a party that has clearly gone way too far too the right — especially on social issues and foreign policy. However, it should also be noted that the Libertarian Party failed to make much headway as a stand-alone political force, despite presidential candidate Gary Johnson’s best intentions. Unfortunately, the future battle for this ideology must be fought within the established Republican Party, not in third-party circles.
6. Conservative Talking Heads (FOX News, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, et. al.) — One might expect these pundits to be the biggest losers after Tuesday’s election. However, outraged conservatives will continue to tune into right-wing talk radio and FOX News — perhaps even more so — with Obama enjoying a second term. Ratings will remain high for conservative-leaning news organizations, which cater to the views of millions of disenfranchised voters and passionate activists.
7. The Democratic Party Machine — Democrats were a largely disorganized national political organization for nearly 60 years. Petty party politics were the norm rather than the exception. But the last two presidential elections reveals the Democratic Party has never been more united or effective. Democrats all over the country mobilized support and got their voters to the polls. Registration drives proved effective. And the Democratic Party raised more money this past election than ever before. The system that’s in play works and should be a model for years to come.
8. Young Republicans — The era of John McCain, Mitch McConnell, Jon Kyl and other septuagenarian Republican dinosaurs is nearing an end as a new younger generation of Republicans is emerging to lead the party. It remains to be seen if these 21st Century Republicans will embrace diversity within the party — not just in terms of race but also in welcoming new ideas. The few moderate Republicans often get labelled as “RINOs” (Republicans in Name Only) for even the slightest compromise away from ultra-conservative ideology. This provides a golden opportunity for new fresh faces, with more mainstream ideas.
9. Female Candidates — In 2012, women were elected in record numbers to high positions (including Republicans). This is encouraging news to the concept to true equality in America. Perhaps the day will come when both houses of Congress shall reflect the actual breakdown of the U.S. population by gender. Who knows — maybe a woman president will be elected someday.
10. Proponents of Middle East Peace Talks — President Obama has the unique opportunity to broker a major deal for peace in the Middle East, and I expect him to do so sometime during the last two years of his term (2015-2016). Wielded to an inflexible pro-Israel policy, neoconservative one-sided views on the conflict embraced by Mitt Romney (and George W. Bush before) inhibited negotiations and the prospect for a peaceful solution. By contrast, President Obama seems to embrace a more flexible policy that respects both sides as equal partners. With the historical precedent of President Carter bringing together Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin (1978), and President Clinton inviting Yassir Arafat to meet with Yitzhak Rabin (1993), President Obama has the opportunity to leave a lasting legacy as a statesman if he can somehow help to create a two-state solution.