Anyhow, the theme of the past week, other than generals being generally irresponsible, is the same as four years ago. The Republicans are sore losers. Sure, losing sucks, and the Democrats didn't enjoy losing in 2000 (where they had some right to complain given how it played out) or in 2004. But all the talk of secession, the blamecasting towards people who dared to vote their interests, and all the rest speaks to a general problem with the Republican Party--they suck at losing. Four years ago, the Republicans vowed to deny Obama success even if it mean hurting the country. Now the GOP is already opposing potential replacements for Hilary Clinton (who used to inspire such ire). They are arguing about mandates when Obama got a majority of the popular vote and of the electoral college (never mind that they would have been upset with him winning just the electoral college, which would have been like Bush's first victory).
The problem here is this: democracy works when people accept losing. We measure whether a new democracy is real or not by whether it has gone through one or two successful transitions in power. In a majoritarian system like the US, usually somewhere between 40 and 49 percent of the voted for the losing Presidential candidate. So, a good large hunk of the country is always unhappy, but which candidate actually credibly claimed to care about the other side? Obama's acceptance speech was not just to his voters. Romney's 47% comment and the incredibly appropriate outcome of 47% of the vote reflect something else.
Am I surprised that the GOP are sore losers? No. I remember four years ago. I am curious about who will win the arguments in the aftermath
- those that argue that the party should not narrow-cast to white men, that the country is more than just white folks, and that a real national party needs to appeal broadly; or
- those who argue that they had a bad candidate, that the media was unfair, or that Romney was not conservative enough.
The funny thing is that being a sore loser is unAmerican. Americans lose all the time, but they don't give up. They adjust, change, adapt. In most wars, especially the ones of which we are most proud, the Americans lose early, learn and then win. The American Revolution consisted of mostly losing battles until Saratoga. World War II was a frickin' disaster with Pearl Harbor and then defeat at Kasserine. The favorite American stories are those of folks who get knocked down and then get back up. Rocky lost the big fight in the first movie, for instance. Some day, the GOP will return to being a center-right alternative of responsible folks. But I think that is in the long term. In the short term, the blame-casting will continue and the learning curve will be shallow unless they accept losing.