Like just about everyone else in America, I was glued to my television screen Tuesday night, watching the election results. I’ve been a political junkie for a lot longer than I’ve been a journalist, and I have a solid routine: cold drink, snacks, and fresh batteries in the remote control. Sometimes I’ll even have a list of states and races that I want to keep an eye on.
I enjoy the usually solid reporting from CNN, and the unique insights from the pundits on MSNBC, so I switch back and forth between those channels. But as soon as MSNBC called Ohio for President Barack Obama, declaring the election a done deal shortly before 11 p.m., I quickly turned to Fox News, just to see the reaction from the other side.
Boy, am I glad I did.
Over on Fox, they too declared Ohio a win for Obama minutes later, but the reaction there was quite different. Karl Rove, the G.W. Bush advisor who has become one of the country’s leading conservative fundraisers through his Crossroads GPS political action committee, began a raving rant unlike anything I’ve ever seen on live television.
Rove, hotly disputing the projection, swore up and down that the few votes left uncounted in Ohio were likely Republican votes, and chastised his Fox colleagues for prematurely leaving Romney for dead. The more the other hosts tried to reassure Rove that the numbers were solid, and that the election was indeed over, the angrier and more unhinged he became.
Now red-faced and howling like a scalded dog, Rove forced co-host Megyn Kelly to walk down the hall to the network’s boiler room, cameras in tow. There, at Rove’s insistence, she questioned Fox’s number crunchers, who calmly explained that those Ohio votes remaining were in and around Cleveland, and were mostly rock-solid Democrats. They openly defied, and even ridiculed Rove, the network’s favorite partisan, as delusional and desperate.
This did not sit well with Rove, who raised tens of millions of dollars from his ultra-wealthy clients for the Romney campaign – money that was now disappearing forever in a puff of smoke. How would he convince them that it was money well spent? How can he look them in the face and ask for more in the next election cycle? How can he possibly defend himself intelligently when every single prediction he made was dead wrong?
Now, I know it’s wrong to take delight in the defeat of an enemy – even one as vile as Karl Rove. But considering the level of hate and vitriol the GOP brought to the campaign – the “food stamp president” comments; the lazy, entitled 47 percent, the empty chair; the absolute disrespect for women and minorities, gays, immigrants, and just about everyone else who isn’t a rich white male – I allowed myself a moment of genuine glee as I watched the architect of modern divisive politics, red-faced and sputtering, suffer a nervous breakdown on national television.
An actual moment of sanity on Fox followed, provided, believe it or not, by former presidential candidate and right wing blowhard Mike Huckabee. Huckabee declared rightly that the GOP has a dismal record of reaching out to racial, ethnic, and sexual minorities, and that record has come back to bite them in the nether regions.
It was during a rant by one of the pundits about the supposed racism displayed by Black Americans, more than 90 percent of whom voted for Obama. Huckabee interjected with the truthful line that 90 percent of Blacks have traditionally voted for the Democrats, and that type of thinking discounts the 75 percent of Latinos, the 75 percent of Asians, and the 80 percent of Native Americans who also sided with the president.
South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham also had it right when he told the Washington Post over the summer, “The demographics race we're losing badly. We're not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”
The GOP ignored Graham’s warning at its peril. In the end, there just weren’t enough angry white guys to outnumber the ignored, alienated and disenfranchised Americans that they’ve marginalized for the past two years.
Since Tuesday night, both Republican and Democrat operatives have concluded that to remain viable, the GOP has to fundamentally change its platform and policies to reflect America’s shifting demographics.
They’re right, but I don’t think that will happen.
I think the GOP will double down on the hate. It’s what they do. They will ignore the numbers and forge ahead with an even angrier anti-minority, anti-gay, anti-woman agenda.
The fun part is if they continue to do that, they’ll continue to lose.
Daryl Gale is the city editor of The Philadelphia Tribune.