Sunday's morning shows featured some astoundingly stupid comments from Republicans who claim to believe that on Election Day voters gave them a "mandate" to continue their attempts to obstruct President Obama's agenda.
Apparently some Republican pundits are still living in the same parallel universe that allowed them to convince themselves that by now, President-elect Mitt Romney would be organizing his transition.
It really is mind-boggling. Notwithstanding all of the available evidence, they still believe that the American people want them to stand in the way of increases in taxes for the wealthiest 2 percent and to cut Medicare and Social Security benefits for future retirees.
Who got a mandate for his policies on Election Day?
The presidential campaign focused like a laser on the question of whether tax rates should be increased for the top 2 percent of Americans or whether we should adopt Romney's proposal to lower tax rates for the wealthy by another $5 trillion, and inevitably increase taxes on the middle class.
The campaign centered on the Ryan-Romney budget that would have slashed spending on critical services for the poor and middle class, reduce funding for education, do away with Medicare and replace it with a voucher program that would increase out-of-pocket costs for seniors by $6,500 per year.
And it was clear throughout, that the Republicans continued to favor privatizing Social Security.
- The Republican presidential ticket lost by 332 electoral votes to 206 electoral votes.
- Obama got 50.6 percent of the popular vote and Romney got 47.6 percent of the popular vote.
- Democrats took two additional seats in the Senate and now hold a 55-45 edge.
- The Senate Democratic caucus now includes more Progressive members and fewer Conservative members.
- Democrats picked up at least 7 and probably 8 seats in the House, and nationwide got over a half a million more votes for their House candidates than did the Republicans -- even though the Republicans continued to control the chamber.
And the verdict that was rendered at the ballot box could be seen in virtually every national opinion survey.
The election was a battle over the future of the middle class, and Obama won that battle.
A Greenberg-Quinlan Research poll found that by 51 to 42 percent the voters said Obama would do a better job restoring the middle class.
They found that by almost two-thirds, voters believed Social Security and Medicare should not be cut as part of a deficit reduction deal.
A November 15, 2012 Hart Research poll for Americans for Tax Fairness found that:
- By a strong 17-point margin, voters favor ending the Bush tax cuts on incomes over250,000 (56 percent) rather than extending the tax cuts for all taxpayers (39 percent).
- President Obama now holds a commanding position in the debate over tax policy. When voters hear President Obama's position on the Bush tax cuts -- that he will sign a bill continuing them for 98 percent of Americans but will veto a bill continuing them for incomes over 250,000 -- fully 61 percent agree with this stance. By contrast, when voters are read congressional Republicans' position -- that they will pass a bill continuing the cuts for all income levels, but will block any bill ending the cuts for those making over 250,000 -- only 42 percent agree while a 53 percent majority rejects its plan.
- Support for raising taxes for 250K+ earners or everyone -- Nevada 64 percent, Wisconsin 64 percent, Virginia 63 percent, Iowa 63 percent, New Hampshire 61 percent, Ohio 57 percent, Florida 57 percent -- national average 60 percent.
Greenberg-Quinlan found in a November poll that Americans reject austerity in favor of investment that creates jobs. They were asked to choose between two statements:
We should avoid immediate drastic cuts in spending, and instead, we need serious investments that create jobs and make us more prosperous in the long-term that will reduce our debt, too.
The only way to restore prosperity and market confidence is to dramatically reduce government spending and our long-term deficits.
The statement favoring investments was chosen by 51 percent compared to 42 percent for the statement favoring cuts.
In fact, there is little question that voters understand better than many commentators and pundits that the budget battle in Washington is not mainly about ratios of revenue to cuts, or "reining in entitlements" -- it is about who pays.
Will the wealthy, who have siphoned off all of the economic growth of the last 15 years, be asked to pay to fix the deficit that resulted from the Bush Tax cuts, and two unpaid-for wars? Or will the middle class -- whose income has been stagnant or declining -- be asked once again to foot the bill?
Voters get it. Time for D.C. pundits to get it as well.
Voters did send a mandate to Republicans on November 6th -- a mandate to wake up and smell the coffee.
Here are a few of the mandates the voters gave Republicans:
- Bad idea to be viewed as a party who mainly represents the interests of the 1 percent and has candidates that were born on third base and think they hit a triple.
- Bad idea to insult almost half of the voters with comments about the 47 percent who can't be convinced to "take responsibility for their lives."
- Bad idea to insult the fastest growing ethnic group in America with your plans for "self deportation" and vetoing the Dream Act.
- Bad idea to patronize American women -- who incidentally represent about 52 percent of the electorate -- by telling them that government must intervene in the reproductive choices that should be left entirely to them and their doctors.
- Bad idea to believe you can any longer win national races in America by insulting and alienating people of color.
- Bad idea to ignore the persistent march of demographic changes that are transforming the American electorate. In addition to the growing proportion of people of color, the millennial generation -- the most consistently progressive generation in recent American history -- is becoming a larger portion of the overall electorate with every passing day.
Finally, the voters sent a loud and clear message that it is a bad idea for the GOP to continue to be the party that opposes traditional progressive American values.
They voted to confirm their view that they want a society where we have each others' backs -- where we're all in this together, not all in this alone. They voted for a society where everyone does his or her fair share, gets a fair shake and plays by the same rules. They want a society that is hopeful and vibrant and celebrates its diversity -- a society where it doesn't matter whether you are a man or woman, gay or straight -- a society where it doesn't matter where you were born, or how much money your parents had when you grew up.
In short the voters showed once again that they want the kind of a society that Barack Obama described in his first major national speech -- to the Democratic Convention in 2004 -- a society where there are no blue states or red states -- just the United States.
Now it's time for the Republicans to lead, follow or get out of the way.
Robert Creamer is a long-time political organizer and strategist, and author of the book: Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win, available on Amazon.com. He is a partner in Democracy Partners and a Senior Strategist for Americans United for Change. Follow him on Twitter @rbcreamer.