Rusty Idols: Punished for Overreach

The number one crippling tactical flaw of the American Republican party is a tendency to drink their own kool-aid.

Over and over they make the same mistake, confusing what they believe with what the majority of Americans believe.  They have managed through the enormous efforts of a right wing media to freight the terms ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’ with enough rhetorical baggage that a slim majority of Americans identify themselves as conservatives but the media and political elite congratulating themselves over this repeatedly fail to drill down to specific positions on specific issues that make it clear that whether they realize it or are actually far more liberal then they think.

American Republicans blearily woke up today to the tragic revelation that last night was not a nightmare, they did in fact get their asses handed to them over and over the country last night.  They gulped nervously, looked ahead to next years big election night and collectively went “Uh, oh.”

The results were not entirely unexpected. But the margins and the uniformity of last night’s election results tell an important story going into 2012. Across the country, Republican overreach coming out of the 2010 election was decisively rejected by voters in multiple states.

In Ohio, Gov. John Kasich’s signature anti-union legislation was rejected by an almost 2-1 margin. That’s a big win for the labor movement and will put in place a deep anti-Republican undercurrent next November. Kasich will be an albatross around the neck of the Republican nominee and there’s organization on the ground that will be an important force too.

But it wasn’t just Ohio. An anti-choice, anti-birth control “personhood” initiative was rejected in Mississippi. Maine voters rejected limits on voter registration — part of the larger Republican push to limit voting rights in 2012. And the author of Arizona’s controversial and trend-setting anti-immigration law looks to have lost a recall election.

What is telling about these numbers was not simply the consistency by which right-wing initiatives and candidates went down but in many cases the margins.

The larger political context remains one in which virtually every political movement and party is unpopular, in the climate of seemingly immovable crisis-level unemployment. But 2012 is looking to be quite different from 2010.

One wonders if Stephen Harper will take any lesson about reactionary overreach from last night?