By Debra J. Saunders
President Barack Obama’s re-election puts Republicans on notice. No matter what we do, the media will portray us as extreme, venal, stupid or anti-woman — if not as individuals, then guilty by association. The GOP nominee must bear the burden of admittedly medieval statements on pregnancy and rape — uttered by Senate hopefuls Richard Mourdock in Indiana and Todd Akin of Missouri. Mitt Romney renounced the statements — and still they tarnished the GOP brand.
On the other side, all Democrats are moderates. Party bigs need never explain why Elizabeth Warren, senator-elect from Massachusetts, padded her credentials as an American Indian. Likewise, how Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. of Illinois coasted to re-election even though he says he is being treated for depression, hasn’t worked since June and won’t say when he plans to. The Democrats’ bad actors not only don’t stain the ticket but also win.
Voters might tell pollsters they’re looking for moderates who are willing to work across the aisle. Ha. Massachusetts just fired Sen. Scott Brown, who, according to CQ Weekly, voted with the GOP 54 percent of the time in 2011. By comparison, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., sided with his party in 96 percent of votes.
Democrats nag that Republicans must move to the center to win. Get it: Conservatives should not vote like conservatives, but liberals must be true to their core beliefs.
When is the last time you heard that a Democrat lost an election by moving too far to the left?
After losing office in 2010 because of his loose-cannon ways — he once called Federal Reserve adviser Linda Robertson a “K Street whore” and an opponent “Taliban Dan” — Alan Grayson of Florida has won a House seat again. California voters finally ousted crazy-mouth Rep. Pete Stark, but only because the new top-two primary allowed them to replace him with Democrat Eric Swalwell.
I’ve long believed that elections reflect which side voters hate more. To the extent that’s true, 50 percent of Americans hate Republicans, and 48 percent hate Democrats.
The polarization can only deepen. The media turned election reportage into a montage of Romney gaffes — “binders full of women,” 47 percent of America “dependent on government,” and “corporations are people.”
What Romney said was more important than what Obama didn’t do. There was little room for analysis on what Obama’s proposed tax increase would do to reduce the deficit (hardly anything), the president’s fumbling of the “grand bargain” or his lack of a serious plan to revitalize the economy.
This is how partisans change a country. They convince the public that a viewpoint is not only wrong but, worse, illegitimate, and the battle is won. They get what they want and keep moving the bar.
As I write this, it appears that Democrats will control a supermajority of the California Assembly and Senate. The Dems have controlled the Legislature for years, albeit with the check that they have needed GOP votes to raise taxes.
I can see the future. State spending will rise. Sacramento will experience an insatiable appetite for other people’s money. A few employers will leave; more will decide not to expand operations in-state. With a tight job market, middle-class Californians will have to move to other states. And they’ll bring their destructive politics with them.
Debra J. Saunders is a San Francisco Chronicle columnist. Her email address is email@example.com