BIG MONEY AND IGNORANCE LOSES
BIG IN 2012 U.S. ELECTIONS
Todd Akin lost. Joe Walsh lost. Richard Murdouck lost. Tom Smith lost. That’s four for four of the Republican men who made absurd comments about rape in the past several months and paid the price for their absurdity.
Elizabeth Warren won. Claire McCaskill won. Tammy Baldwin won. Tammy Duckworth won. That’s four for four of the Democratic women who took strong stands against the Republican establishment and walked away victorious.
Eight of the nine so-called Battleground States — must win “swing states” that everyone on both sides knew would decide the election — went to President Barack Obama, despite the spending of nearly $150 million more by the Republicans, their surrogate super PACs, and a bevy of Super Rich individuals who poured millions into the campaign of Mitt Romney.
On social issues, contemporary 21st Century Thought prevailed over Let’s Go Backward Mentality in several striking cases. The electorate of two states — Maine and Maryland — voted to legalize same sex marriage, and citizens in the states of Washington and Colorado voted to legalize recreational use of marijuana. Opponents of same sex marriage have long claimed that, if put to an actual vote, citizens in most states would reject the idea of legalizing it. They were wrong. Likewise, opponents of legalized marijuana predicted that ballot measures supporting it would fail. Washington and Colorado proved otherwise.
Perhaps most impressively, voters across the United States fought back, and won, against Big Money, defeating candidate after candidate whose campaigns benefited from huge amounts spent by super Pacs (political action committees) and Karl Rove’s direction of phenomenal spending to try to capture seats with the sheer power of money, and the advertising dominance that it can buy.
In short, People Power defeated Money Power in this election, time and time again — and that is good news for America.
Huge amounts, for instance — almost unfathomable amounts — where given by big money moguls across the nation to Mr. Romney’s campaign. It just couldn’t “buy” the election. Neither could it win a GOP majority in the U.S. Senate. According to a news story in The Wall Street Journal by reporter Brody Mullins, “In campaigns for the Senate, Republican candidates were backed by millions of dollars in spending by well-coordinated pro-Republican super PACs and interest groups that hammered Democratic candidates in televised advertisements starting last winter.”
The same story noted that “in the presidential race, pro-Republican super PACs spend far more money than those favoring Mr. Obama.” Two of those groups along—Crossroads GPS (created and controlled by Mr. Rove) and Restore Our Future—spent $250 million supporting Mr. Romney, The Wall Street Journal report said. The biggest group supporting Mr. Obama, Priorities USA Action, by contrast, spent just $65 million on behalf of the President, the newspaper report added.
It did Big Money no good. Try as it might to bend the voters’ views with dollars, it simply could not buy this election.
An example is what happened in Virginia, where millions were dumped into the state by outside groups to help GOP candidate George Allen defeat Democrat Tim Kaine in the race for the U.S. Senate seat. Mr. Allen lost.
In Ohio, more than $10 million was spent by outside groups — including another controlled by Karl Rove (who seemed deeply determined to affect this year’s elections) and the U. S. Chamber of Commerce — in an effort to unseat liberal Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown. Mr. Brown won.
In Connecticut, Republican Linda McMahon spent $40 million of her own money to defeat Democrat Chris Murphy for the U.S. Senate. She lost. Ms. McMahon spent $50 million of her own money in a 2010 election bid, which she also lost, proving that putting $90 million into two successive campaigns guarantees nothing. Peoples’ votes are apparently not as “buy-able” as some people might have thought.
Likewise, tens of millions in outside spending money was shipped off to Wisconsin by rich Republican individuals and money-powered groups to bring former Badger State Governor Tommy Thompson to the U.S. Senate — but his Democratic opponent, Tammy Baldwin, batted away the huge dollar advantage of her GOP opponent’s campaign and walked away with the Senate seat. She will become the first openly gay U.S. Senator.
The U.S. electorate made wonderfully intelligent decisions in many races, defeating GOP candidates who made utterly irrational statements about rape. Mr. Akin, a sitting GOP Congressman looking to move up to the Senate, famously said in August that the female body automatically makes it impossible for pregnancy to occur in cases of “legitimate rape.” Until that remark, he was expected to defeat sitting Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill.
Embarrassed to high heaven by Mr. Akin’s remark, the Republican Party pulled its endorsement and its funding from Mr. Akin, and begged him to get out of the race so that it could run another candidate against McCaskill. Akin said he was in the race to stay, with or without his party’s support. He lost.
Mr. Walsh, Mr. Murdouck, and Mr. Smith made equally offensive and/or ridiculous statements on the subject of abortion in the case of rape, and they also lost their races. Mr. Murdouck famously declared that if a pregnancy resulted from a rape, “it is something that God intended to happen.” Mr. Walsh, a sitting GOP Congressmen, was asked a question at a debate about abortion and announced that he was “pro-life without exception.” Then he added, “The life of the woman is not an exception.” Asked by the press immediately after the debate if he had misspoken, or was serious, Mr. Walsh said he meant every word, and justified his stance by saying that modern medical advances have made abortion unnecessary to save the life of a mother. He lost the election in that moment.
Mr. Smith, the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, was asked by the media in August what his position was regarding abortion. He said he was opposed to abortion without exception. Not even in cases of rape or incest? he was asked. No, he said. Then he was asked by Mark Scolforo of the Associated Press: “How would you tell a daughter or a granddaughter who, God forbid, would be the victim of a rape, to keep the child against her own will? Do you have a way to explain that?”
Mr. Smith then made the extraordinary comparison of rape with a woman having a baby out of wedlock. In the second instance, he said, he had a member of his own family who chose to have the child. But, the AP reporter, incredulous, asked: “That’s similar to rape?” Mr. Smith replied, “No, no, no…but…put yourself in a father’s situation…yes, it is similar. But, back to the original, I’m pro-life, period.” That was the end of Mr. Smith’s campaign.
America has re-claimed its intelligence and re-claimed its power. Big Money and Ignorance have lost theirs — and with it, a stranglehold on the U.S. electorate.
There is hope after all. People can and will think for themselves. People can and will overcome the onslaught of media buys by individuals and groups with millions to throw around. Sometimes when you “follow the money trail,” it leads, alas, to a dead end.
It is as Mr. Murphy said when he won Connecticut’s Senate seat. “We proved that what matters most in life is the measure of your ideas…not the measure of your wallet.”