When you get whacked the way the GOP got whacked on Tuesday, somebody had better start to pay attention to the reasons why. No amount of denial by Karl Rove on election night or postmortem second-guessing by others on the nomination of Romney or his selection of Ryan can spare this party from the new math: The electorate was 72 percent white, a group Obama lost with 39 percent to Romney’s 59 percent; 13 percent African American, a bloc that gave the president 93 percent of their votes; 10 percent Hispanic, a group the president won 71 percent to 27 percent (a slightly worse outcome than in 2008, when Obama carried Latinos 67 percent to Arizona Sen. John McCain’s 31 percent). Put another way, if Romney had received the same percentage of the Hispanic vote that McCain did, we’d be calling him president-elect today.
As the president moves forward into a second term and the words of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) about a one-term presidency ring in the ears of Republicans, it’s important to understand that what happened Tuesday was not a rejection of the case for conservatism (individual freedoms, smaller and more efficient government, prosperity, entrepreneurism and ownership) but rather a rejection of the way some conservatives made the case (vaginal probes, “legitimate rape,” the “47 percent”).
Sadly, it appears the lessons of 2006 and 2008 (or even 2010, for that matter) were not taken to heart or understood. Republicans fundamentally failed to communicate a message that spoke to our hopes for prosperity, for ourselves and especially for our children. Consequently, one good debate notwithstanding, our case fell flat before the American people.
It’s time to take this wayward party by the scruff of the neck and knock some common sense into it (yes, that means no more coddling crazy) and emerge out of this election as leaders who will speak with clarity and honesty on the issues that matter to 100 percent of Americans.
So like that kid in the backseat of the car asking, “Are we there yet?” Republicans had better realize that we’ve been here for some time now, and America is just waiting for us to get out of the car.
Michael Steele is the former chairman of the Republican National Committee and served as lieutenant governor of Maryland from 2003 to 2007. He is currently a political analyst for MSNBC.