First Mitt Romney wants to kill Big Bird, then Kevin Clash gets a little too tickly with Elmo and now nobody wants to play with Grover. 2012 has been a very bad year for anyone with a name associated with Sesame Street. In the last 48 hours Republicans have been running from Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge faster than you can say “47%” and this is a good sign for the GOP. We may finally be seeing a point where the Grand Old Party is walking back from their insane rendezvous with death they’ve been on since the 2010 midterms.
I always point out that the difference between Republicans and Democrats is how they think the rest of the public views them. Democrats are perpetually insecure, they never trust that the public loves them, that’s why they’re so quick to beat themselves whenever a Democrat screws up (ex: Obama’s First debate). Republicans didn’t even have to say anything A.D. (After Denver) because Democrats were crawling all over themselves to say Obama had lost the election. On the other hand Republicans always overestimate how much the public loves them. After winning a zillion seats in the House in the 2010 Mid-Term Shellacking they confused American dissatisfaction with Democratic control of Congress with an endorsement of Republican policies. That’s one of the reasons why they lost a ton of Senate seats this year. However, losing has a way of making people get very real with themselves very quickly and the 2012 loss has given smarter Republicans a very big lesson: American’s don’t like rigidity.
America 2012 is more flexible, people don’t necessarily like Gay marriage but they don’t have a problem with others who enjoy. America in 2012 is full of people who may never smoke weed but don’t care if other people want to. When Norquiest got almost 90% of the Republican Party to sign a pledge that they would not accept any budget negotiation deals that included new taxes it was in the low point of the Obama presidency. He was a weak incumbent facing a powerful united party dead set on putting him out to pasture. But things are different now. In reality things like Grover Norquist’s tax pledge are an anachronism to a time when standing on principle regardless of the realities on the ground was considered politically brave and sexy. Now it just looks stupid and obstructionist.
Smart Republicans recognize that whether they like it or not, Barack Obama is president of the United States. He’s the Ronald Reagan of the millenials, and there’s nothing they can do about it. If the GOP spent the first 4 years of the Obama presidency trying to keep him from being re-elected the next four years need to be spent actually putting this country back on it’s feet. The Grand Old Party of No has to let go of old pledges to move forward and have any chance of competing in the future. Dropping Norquist’s pledge is just the first step.
DR. JASON JOHNSON, Politic365 Chief Political Correspondent, is a professor of Political Science at Hiram College in Ohio and author of the book Political Consultants and Campaigns: One Day to Sell. You can read more at www.drjasonjohnson.com or follow him on Twitter @Drjasonjohnson