Don't Call It A Comeback

"You are a sad song, played on the ugliest guitar."

During Mitt Romney’s concession speech last night – in which he made the first truthful statement of his campaign by acknowledging that he had lost – I couldn’t help but remember the final scene in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, wherein a battered robot acknowledges his inability to have human emotions and is then lowered into a vat of molten steel, giving one final thumbs up to the radical right before he melts away into political obscurity.

In a way, I almost felt sorry for the guy. While he was purposefully secretive about his tax returns and all over the map with his policies, you can’t argue the fact that Mitt Romney really wanted to be president. In any other regard it would be a tragedy that a man would spend seven years and millions of dollars chasing a dream and then not catch it. But then you take a look at how he ran his campaign and you think, “Yeah, well… What did you think was going to happen!?”

What I like best about this is the various bloated gasbags and religious extremists running the Republican Party have accepted that they very clearly got smacked down at the polls and are now spending the day after Election Day stumbling from one cable news network to another in a disappointed haze, trying to process what went wrong.

“It’s a perplexing time for many of us right now,” said Sarah Palin, who is also perplexed by cottage cheese and how the light in the refrigerator always comes on right when you open the door.

“I was wrong,” said Newt Gingrich, referring not to his defense of 'family values' as a philanderer who’s been married three times but instead to his prediction that Romney would win. “Republicans are going to have to take a very serious look at what happened and why did it happen and why were we not more competitive at the presidential level.”

Here, Newt, let me give you some Cliff’s Notes for that ‘serious look’, whenever you get around to it: When your party’s most qualified candidate after a brutal primary is the guy who won’t release his tax returns, writes an op-ed titled, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,” and says he doesn’t care about 47% of Americans in a room full of people who have HD cameras in their fucking telephones, there is a good chance that you won’t win the election.

“While some will want to blame one wing of the party over the other, the reality is candidates from all corners of our GOP lost tonight. Clearly we have work to do in the weeks and months ahead,” said Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas, head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

Clearly, he says. Clearly they have work to do. What do you think made it clearest, Senator? Was it President Obama’s 12 point lead among women, or the fact that GOP frontrunners for the Senate in red state hellholes like Missouri and Indiana suddenly lost after trying to explain circumstances under which women getting raped wasn’t really so bad?

In fact, based on the success of marriage equality ballot measures in Washington, Maryland, and Maine versus the senator who coined the term ‘legitimate rape’, I’d say that ‘redefining’ marriage is way more popular than redefining sexual assault.

I see the GOP as a whole as a mirror of Mitt Romney – if you look at their campaign strategies over the past 18 months and completely forget their policies, they totally deserve an A for effort. These guys wanted to win so hard that they got extremely creative – voter ID laws, restrictions on early voting, an obstructionist Congress, Romney-led conference calls for CEOs about how best to encourage employees to vote Republican, a war chest funded by Sheldon Adelson, the Koch brothers, and Karl Rove… Remember how the bad guys in The Mighty Ducks had all that money and corporate support and dirty tactics?

And do you remember how the Ducks won anyway?

I mean, Florida, for Christ’s sake! Florida, I’ve said some nasty shit about you, and even though I stand by most of it, I still apologize. The Florida legislature and Governor Rick Scott saw to it that 23% of the black electorate was disenfranchised and that the rest had to wait in line for seven hours to vote, and Obama still won the state.

People in the Deep South stood in line for seven hours – and not to get on Space Mountain or see a Transformer or eat a chicken sandwich, but to stand in a booth and vote for Barack Obama. That right there affirms something that I’ve always wanted to believe:

Americans – even the ones in Florida – are a lot more tenacious than we give them credit for.

Sure, voter turnout was only a little over half the country,* but the folks who showed up, showed up. They brought the necessary ID, they waited as long as they had to, and against the odds set up by jackass Republican state governments, they voted – perhaps emboldened by spite.

*I know a couple people who didn’t vote because, as they put it, they weren’t up to date on the issues. I totally understand and sympathize – it’s now harder than ever to obtain information about current events. I mean, who has time to get on their horse and ride to the nearest library to read up on the issues, or the patience to listen to the town crier explain the latest happenings? I just pray that one day the world will be linked by an easily assessable information superhighway – a series of tubes, perhaps – with which people can quickly access and digest information. Perhaps it would even be available on telephones! Surely, with the invention of this worldwide web of freely accessible information, the only remaining excuse for not voting will be, “I’m lazy and don’t give a shit.”

That, I think, was the real victory of last night. Sure, Mr. Obama has four more years and Elizabeth Warren is about to go Kaizer Soze all over Wall Street, but what was most heartening to me is that the majority of Americans wanted it this way. Despite the lies and the flashy ads, they could see that Romney and Co. were trying to feed them a shit sandwich, which they opted not to eat by an inarguable margin. We’re a smarter country than we give ourselves credit for, which is extremely easy for me to say now that my guy won.

If the Republicans hope to win another election, they need to bank on the electorate being intelligent and informed, not just blindly patriotic. That means a party platform unconcerned with gay people or birth control, an acknowledgment that Reaganomics doesn’t work, and a presidential candidate whose name is Jon Huntsman or Gary Johnson.

It’s my dream that one day the candidate I support can lose an election and I won’t have to worry about America turning into a militaristic theocracy. What last night told me is that that dream is a possibility, even if it takes until 2024.

Truman Capps promises a prompt return to dick jokes and stories about him being awkward in public – unless, that is, something interesting happens in politics in the next few years, in which case he’ll write about it and you’ll just have to deal with it.