10:07 AM CST, November 5, 2012
Win or lose for Barack Obama, this election is on track to weirdly settle several highly controversial political issues. Here are some rather bold and not-so-bold predictions about the future:
1. All-white parties are over. The Republicans have managed to maintain their role as one of the two major political parties almost exclusively on a voting bloc of white people, and specifically white men. As one Republican apparatchik put it to Ron Brownstein about the Romney-Ryan strategy to win almost entirely with white people, “This is the last time anyone will try to do this.” By 2016 the country will be even less white, and before then expect a major push within the Republican Party to come to some kind of agreement about immigration reform. Should they fail to do this, they will practically forfeit the next election when all their primary candidates rush to the right, and Hispanic voters react with appropriate disinterest.
2. We are stuck with terrible gun laws. The most evident feature of this year’s election was the sheer number of mass shootings that took place during it, yet the bipartisan consensus that just about anyone should be able to buy any kind of assault rifle at any time remained as resilient as ever. The Democrats do not have the stomach to tackle gun control, and I don’t really blame them. At this point it’s hard to see how sane gun restrictions will ever make it back on to the political agenda.
3. The gays are getting married. This is probably the last election you’re going to hear any kind of firm anti-marriage equality rhetoric from a national politician who aspires to the presidency. By the next cycle we will have had four (but really eight) years of a president who believes same-sex marriages should be recognized. It will be difficult for a Republican candidate to get through a primary without opposing marriage equality, but even harder for him to win national office without your basic first-term Obama wink and a nod to the fact that, well, yeah, I’m just saying that for political expediency. The Defense of Marriage Act is about to vanish into irrelevance, Don't Ask, Don't Tell has fallen without the entire U.S. military dropping their weapons on the battlefield to make out, and 51% of the country supports gay marriage, with most of the 41% opposition quieting down as they realize they've lost this one.
4. Abortion. Haha just kidding! Of course abortion won’t be settled. However, at the same time, if you look at the national careers of Senate candidates like Todd Aiken and Richard Murdouck, and see how both these guys went from sure-fire wins to imploding gasballs of national renown by simply opening their mouths, then you can at least see the template as to how this issue will eventually fail Republicans. Whenever conservatives talk about getting Roe v. Wade overturned, I like to point out to them that this probably be the worst thing to ever actually happen to their party, so galvanizing would it be to certain corners of the left. This has been a sure-fire hit for so long, it would be like the dog chasing the car and not knowing what to do if he actually caught it. Moreover, as we’ve seen with Aiken and Murdouck, whenever you’re talking about rape, you’re losing. While pro-life sentiment will remain the norm, don’t count on too many more nominees who’ve been arrested multiple times outside women’s health clinics.
5. The president can bomb basically whoever he feels like. The Bush-Obama national security consensus got not even a whisper of resistance from the Romney campaign, which, when it disagreed with the administration at all, only pointed out that we should be willing to bomb more stuff. Obama’s aggressive approach to anti-terrorism made him invincible to a Republican foreign policy critique—the Bush-era and Cold War claim that Democrats are weak on defense—yet that doesn’t make it a particularly good policy. The drone program in Pakistan, especially, should worry anyone who also thought it was a bad idea to spend a few trillion dollars trying to convert Iraq into a Heritage Foundation paradise. Even for those of us who supported Obama, it will be imperative in a theoretical second term to speak up about the folly of using robots to blow up threatening croppings of military-age males in a part of the world where anti-American sentiment already runs extremely high. Yet it is also difficult to see how the next Democratic nominee for 2016 will feel any differently.
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