Voters Reject Divisive GOP Strategy. Can Obama And The House Deliver The Compromises The Electorate Wants?
The result from last night’s election is more divided government and no indication that the parties and the President will come together anytime soon to confront the challenges we face as a nation.
To be sure, this was one of our most divisive elections in history, a campaign of extremism. The campaign pitted Americans against each other based on class and party. The result is that we are now two Americas, with a tough road ahead. These two Americas that must be reconciled.
But there were rays of hope in last night’s results.
Independent candidate Angus King’s victory in the Maine Senate race is one such ray of hope. King won a solid majority of the vote—54 to 29 percent—and overcame the $5 million spent against him by the RNC, Karl Rove and outside groups.
King’s win was not only a victory for the forces of moderation, but a repudiation of extremism and a clarion call for coalitions of moderates in both houses to emerge. It also involved a coalition between Americans Elect, the group which succeeded in getting 50 state ballot access but failed to recruit a Presidential candidate, its visionary chairman Peter Ackerman and Mayor Michael Bloomberg who made a significant contribution to King’s campaign. Even though the Bloomberg/Americans Elect endeavor—one that I was truly proud to be part of—was outspent nearly 5 to 1, King still managed an overwhelming victory.
The question then becomes, what does the King victory mean? It means that people, despite what they saw on election day and throughout the campaign, are looking for bipartisanship. They want inclusive solutions. Indeed, exit polls last night showed that 70 percent of Americans want a bi-partisan government.
The first step to giving the American people what they want was taken by Mayor Bloomberg in working to advance a centrist and anti-gun agenda. The Mayor had an extremely successful election day with a majority of the candidates and causes he supported emerging victorious. To be sure, Mayor Bloomberg played a leading role in an election that was a decisive failure for pro-gun candidates.
One of the Mayor’s other successes from last night was the election of Gloria Negrete McLeod in California’s 35th Congressional district where she beat incumbent Joe Baca, who has received an “A” by the National Rifle Association and co-sponsored an act which would remove restrictions on the interstate firearms business.
Mayor Bloomberg backed Dan Maffei in his New York 25th Congressional district rematch with Ann Marie Buerkle, a Tea Party candidate and fervent opponent of gun control. The Mayor was also successful in the election of Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, the first woman to fill this role and a strong gun control advocate who supports the repeal of the Florida loophole which allows Pennsylvanians who have been denied a gun license from getting a license in another state.
Mayor Bloomberg also supported Val Demings in Florida, who got within four points of incumbent Dan Webster who opposes restrictions on the right to bear arms. Demings, an ideal candidate—former police chief and pro gun control advocate—came very close. The Mayor also supported two moderate Republicans who lost narrowly—Andrew Roraback and Bob Dold, both of whom are moderate, inclusive Republicans that ran on a platform of bipartisanship.
The victories of King, Negrete McLeod, Maffei and Kane are seemingly different. They come in different jurisdictions, parts of the country and offices. But they are part of a larger movement towards moderation and inclusiveness that our politics needs. We are fast approaching the fiscal cliff and we cannot tolerate the polarization and divisiveness that has come to dominate our legislature and, indeed, this election campaign.
The efforts of Americans Elect and particularly the efforts of Mayor Bloomberg around the country are a tremendous first step in promoting the type of bipartisanship we will need to avoid fiscal and economic problems in the near future. They have begun the process of crafting a new, moderate and bi-partisan vision for America, a vision that we so desperately need.
I was proud to be part of those efforts both in Maine and around the country and believe that it is only through the effort to create independent caucuses in both the House and Senate that we have a chance to resolve the endemic problems we face in our country.