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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

The red folks are coming

Two days after Democrat Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential election, the front page of the Albuquerque Journal (the local newspaper of my hometown) showed a man purchasing rifles and ammunition in preparation for what he and many others believed would be a pseudo-apocalyptic world in which the “”Second Amendment repealing”” and “”socialist Nazi”” president would rule. Of course, none of the fearful had the crystal ball to foresee the surge of the Tea Party or “”mama grizzlies”” that would put Republicans in their current position of controlling the U.S. House of Representatives.  

Now, as Republicans soak in their victory, Democrats are seemingly unfazed. The calm, almost emotionally unresponsive, President Obama has made several collected speeches in response to the results of this election, but he and many Democratic supporters don’t seem to be overly concerned. With the exception of the occasional Facebook post, there haven’t been any cries of Democrats discussing plans to flee to Canada, and it seems there just aren’t any zealous Democrats running to Planned Parenthood for an abortion with bong and Sierra Club membership in hand.

As Republicans look down upon their Democratic opposition from a self-assumed “”pedestal of victory,”” it’s important to keep in mind exactly what was accomplished. Yes, most of the Americans who voted in the midterm election chose Republicans. But as any political science major will tell you, presidential elections have a much higher turnout than midterms, so let’s not get too carried away about how well Republicans will do in the future. There are still many people out there who are apathetic now, but will tune in when the real race begins for the White House. Republicans will have to find a way to make those voters sympathetic toward their ideology.

Secondly, Republicans took back the weaker chamber of Congress. The House, being based on proportional representation, was outlined to have less power, so as to appease the small states into feeling some comfort with the blueprint of Congress during the drafting of the U.S. Constitution. Nonetheless, a victory is a victory for Republicans, so here’s to you on that one, weaker house or not.  

Third, and going along with the first point, Republicans had better remember the Democrats’ base. While often unreliable and disorganized, young voters are highly anxious to be a part of something revolutionary (see 2008 presidential election). If Republicans can find a way to make something historic out of the 2012 presidential election, then they can significantly swing the youth against the Democrats. Remember, though, that young voters tend to be Democrats. Although many choose to classify themselves as “”independent”” so that they may be different for difference’s sake, they still largely vote blue. Young voters are a valuable foundation if a party can get their support. In 2008, the youth vote accounted for 51 percent of the overall turnout.  

Don’t forget the minorities either. Often disregarded by Republicans, minority voters came out in larger numbers than ever when contributing to the overall voter total in 2008. Twenty-two percent of voters in 2008 were either Hispanic or black; put another black candidate on the ballot and it could be hard to steal that demographic away for the Republicans.  

To say that Republicans are truly “”back with a vengeance”” is a bit of an overstatement. The war is not over, Republicans; you’ve still got to do something this time. Now that you’ve got control of one chamber, you can’t just sit back and filibuster every bill and delay progress any more. It may sound weird, but you’ve actually got to contribute to the political process in a meaningful way this go around. While respects must be paid to the brilliant political strategy that got you here — the ol’ “”don’t agree on anything so that the opposition comes off as a tyrannical majority”” ploy — you still have to come through this time. You sat on the bench and allowed Democrats to bargain and deal with one another to force their agenda through, but now it’s time to take the field and see if you can actually work cohesively together.  

That is, of course, assuming that Republicans want to actually achieve something in the next two years, other than winning elections and doing nothing positive during terms.   

 

— Storm Byrd is a political science sophomore. He was also a student organizer for UA Votes, which is run by Arizona Students’ Association. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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