All the nerdy political gurus with their chalkboard tablets on cable news have spoken, and it is official: Identity politics won President Obama’s re-election last week.
Analysts on all sides tell us Republicans have drifted away from the quiet majority, which is rapidly losing its white pigmentation. Republicans don’t know how to speak to women, they say. Hispanics don’t relate to this party of supposedly rich, white — and most certainly racist! — men.
Democrats, meanwhile, have mastered the seedy art of slicing and dicing the electorate into racial, gender and social identities and then herding each group around with phony issues using special “dog whistles” that only those in each group can hear.
When Republicans have tried such dirty tactics in the past, the strategy has been denounced by the media as pure racism. When Democrats do it, it is called winning. What rich irony it is that the party of admitted racial electioneering, which for decades used black voters as chattel, would ridicule the Republicans as a dwindling white minority party that is therefore now finished.
Conservatives can take solace in knowing that while the 2012 election certainly was about free contraception, Big Bird, putting people “back in chains,” dancing horses and women in binders, there is one thing it most certainly was not about. It was not a battle of ideas. It was not about some grand mandate voters want politicians in Washington to carry forth.
Conservatives were the only suckers out there who spent the past 12 months making big arguments about big ideas. That was what that whole endless Republican primary was about, and conservatives ultimately decided that electing Mitt Romney, with his sterling record as a financial turnaround artist, was the most responsible course for the country to take at this perilous time, when so many are suffering and the greatest threat to national security is the unraveling rate of government spending.
Bereft of ideas, the Obama team acknowledges that its strategy was not to debate Mr. Romney on these issues but to “define” Mr. Romney early, before he had the time and money to present himself as he was. Remember, that was when the campaign was accusing him of lying, committing a felony and killing a woman with cancer.
You bring a book to a debate. These thugs bring brass knuckles and nunchucks, with Saturday night specials shoved inside their boots. Mr. Romney came prepared for a boardroom presentation but was met instead by a sex-act freak show of low racists and mustached flesh peddlers who would do anything to win. Except, that is, run a campaign about ideas.
It is easy in these times to look around and wonder if we have not simply become a nation of infants, ignoring the looming catastrophe because it is just too horrible to consider and instead voting for more free stuff.
Have we really been taken over by people who chose their favorite cartoon character for that permanent tattoo on their neck? Was the election really decided by all those people who get busted running a meth lab wearing a grimy Tweety Bird T-shirt?
Is there actually a growing demand across the country for politicians to take care of us, tell us what to eat and the correct size of portions and pat us down in public so we do not hurt ourselves?
All this silliness is a unique luxury that can exist only under the snug protection of 11 Navy aircraft carrier fleets and the finest military ever known to man. If only we lived up to those ideals and remembered those sacrifices every time we made a political decision or cast a vote.
• Charles Hurt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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