Take a good look at Barack Obama. He made history yesterday. He apparently became the first U.S. president to win a second term with fewer popular votes than he received the first time.
I say apparently only because the popular-vote totals for the first nine U.S. presidential elections have been lost to history. Since 1820, twelve presidents have been elected to second terms, and only Obama polled worse the second time around.
Everybody on the Right is lamenting Obama’s victory, finding it difficult to believe that American voters could have re-elected someone who presided over a dreadful economy and made innumerable destructive moves in conducting our foreign affairs, of which Benghazi-gate is only the latest.
Rush Limbaugh, in his election recap today, declared that they – meaning society’s leeches – now outnumber us, the producers. He says that the takers understandably chose to vote for Santa Claus. The nation, he fears, may no longer belong to people with ambition, fortitude, and an independent spirit.
I can understand the dismay. I feel the pain too. I know that if someone’s team loses the World Series, it doesn’t help much to point out that they lost the final game by only one run.
But really, doesn’t the result of this election look better than the result from 2008? In 2008, Obama beat John McCain by some 10 million votes. This time, based on the preliminary tallies, it looks as though he beat Mitt Romney by fewer than 3 million.
Both parties lost voters this time. Obama’s tally fell a whopping 9 million votes short of his total for 2008. Romney’s total is only about 2 million below McCain’s. The first time, few people really knew Obama. After they got to know him, 13 percent of his supporters walked away. That strikes me as a good sign.
Rather than conclude simply that “they” now outnumber “us,” one could divine instead that we are catching up, and that it might not take much to put us over the top next time. To resume the baseball metaphor, the Republicans rallied impressively in the ninth inning of the final game, but fell just short.
I have been hearing about the imminent death of the Republican party throughout my life. I wasn’t around yet when FDR beat Hoover in 1932, but that was supposed to be the death knell of the GOP. And it did come pretty close, with FDR and Harry Truman winning five consecutive elections. But then came Eisenhower to the rescue.
After the 1964 election, in which Lyndon Johnson absolutely swamped Barry Goldwater, that was supposed to be it for the Republicans. Yet four years later, Richard Nixon became president.
When the same Nixon was forced to resign from office in 1974 because of the Watergate scandal, that was it for the Republicans. But then, lo and behold, along came Ronald Reagan in 1980.
Bill Clinton’s victories over George Bush the elder and Bob Dole seemed to reveal a Republican party on the ropes, but then Bush the younger won his two terms.
What we can’t predict, particularly when we are as depressed as we are on this morning after, is that large, unexpected developments frequently throw conventional wisdom for a loop.
In 1952, a revered war hero dragged the GOP out of the dumps. In 1968, a GOP candidate capitalized on his predecessor’s criminal mishandling of the Vietnam situation. In 1980 the GOP rose from the ashes in the wake of the Iran hostage crisis and Jimmy Carter’s demonstrable ineptitude. In 2000 a Republican eked out a victory after his predecessor as President disgraced himself and his office.
With the reelection of Obama, one liberal blogger is speculating that the next Republican president may not have been born yet! A bold prediction, and typical of the Left whenever they win an election.
What will happen next to save the GOP? Don’t ask me, but I am willing to bet that it will.
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