A plea to the right, from Rachel Maddow and me

On the day following the election on her show on MSNBC, Rachel Maddow summed up the significant points about Tuesday’s election. I encourage you to watch this video.

Despite the right’s mischaracterization of President Obama as an ineffective hapless but also incongruously dangerous president, the American public reelected him with — it is true — a bit less enthusiasm than 2008 but with just as clear of a victory.

First, Maddow powerfully presented a list of some things that will not happen because President Obama remains in office, including:

  • Obamacare will not be killed before it has had a chance to roll out;
  • we will not get new Supreme Court justices appointed in the next four years who would overturn Roe v. Wade or the Voting Rights Act.

She also highlighted:

  • big gains for women in Congress — the most women in the Senate ever;
  • success for gay marriage initiatives across the country, and the first openly gay senator elected ever
  • the failure of huge amounts of out-of-state dark money and PAC money to defeat incumbent Democrats — Karl Rove’s PAC spent over 100 million dollars and won two out of eight races, and none of the big ones. (After that and his refusal on Fox News on election night to believe Obama won, one U.S. News blogger is declaring Rove’s career over.)
  • a partial repeal of the onerous three-strikes law in California which has sent thousands of non-violent criminals to jail for long sentences

More important than any one of those things other than the president’s reelection: a clear rejection of the Tea Party. They lost congressional seats and some that held on did so only by a hair.

But here’s the key part of Maddow’s presentation: was her insistence — which I share as strongly as does she — that it would be a good thing if there was a strong, thoughtful Republican Party. The disbelief of some, most notably Rove, on Tuesday night is not something to make fun of, but rather it’s a serious wake-up call. The Republican Party has been living in a bubble for the last four years, in which President Obama was wildly unpopular; confirmed, they believed, by the 2010 midterm results. In their view, the problem with the Republican Party was not that it was too extreme, but that it wasn’t right-wing enough. Truth matters.

What Maddow expresses hope for, that this will be a wake-up call for the Republicans and could result in more balanced government, is something that I also pray for. If there was a vibrant competition of good ideas, not parliamentary game playing and grandstanding, the result would be better legislation. I see a few hopeful signs, but we will soon see. She makes the case better than do I. I encourage you to watch the full video above. But if not, please watch at least this final few minutes, starting at 12:51. Here it is in print. Check it out:

Ohio really did go to President Obama last night. And he really did win. And he really was born in Hawaii. And he really is legitimately president of the United States, again. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics did not make up a fake unemployment rate last month. And the Congressional Research Service really can find no evidence that cutting taxes on rich people grows the economy. And the polls were not skewed to oversample Democrats. And Nate Silver was not making up fake projections about the election to make conservatives feel bad. Nate Silver was doing math. And climate change is real. And rape really does cause pregnancy sometimes. And evolution is a thing. And Benghazi was an attack on us, it was not a scandal by us. And nobody is taking away anyone’s guns. And taxes have not gone up. And the deficit is dropping, actually. And Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction. And the moon landing was real. And FEMA is not building concentration camps. And U.N. election observers are not taking over Texas. And moderate reforms of the regulations on the insurance industry and the financial services industry in this country are not the same thing as communism.

Listen, last night was a good night for liberals and for Democrats for very obvious reasons, but it was also, possibly, a good night for this country as a whole. Because in this country, we have a two-party system in government. And the idea is supposed to be that the two sides, both come up with ways to confront and fix the real problems facing our country. They both propose possible solutions to our real problems. And we debate between those possible solutions. And by the process of debate, we pick the best idea. That competition between good ideas from both sides about real problems in the real country should result in our country having better choices, better options, than if only one side is really working on the hard stuff. And if the Republican Party and the conservative movement and the conservative media is stuck a vacuum-sealed door-locked spin cycle of telling each other what makes them feel good and denying the factual, lived truth of the world, then we are all deprived as a nation of the constructive debate about competing feasible ideas about real problems.

Last night the Republicans got shellacked, and they had no idea it was coming. and we saw them in realtime, in real humiliating time, not believe it, even as it was happening to them. And unless they are going to is secede, they are going to have to pop the factual bubble they have been so happy living inside if they do not want to get shellacked again; and that will be a painful process for them, but it will be good for the whole country, left, right and center. You guys, we’re counting on you. Wake up. There are real problems in the world. There are real, knowable facts in the world. Let’s accept those and talk about how we might approach our problems differently. Let’s move on from there. If the Republican Party and the conservative movement and conservative media are forced to do that by the humiliation they were dealt last night, we will all be better off as a nation. And in that spirit, congratulations, everybody.

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