It's almost a month and the scope of the election day victory has permeated the Democratic party. We re-elected President Obama, improved our status in the Senate, and narrowed the Republican margin in the House. Overall, the ideology of the government within the beltway is decidedly more center left than it was just five weeks ago. Yes, Boehner continues to bluster and McConnell continues to whine, but the battle was engaged and the Republicans were left beaten and tattered on the battlefield of politics.
This article, however, is a word of warning. The 2012 election was a battle in a much broader war. This has been an ideological war that began with the skirmishes of the early 1980s with the presidency of Ronald Reagan, reached an ideological detente during some of the Clinton years, but resumed in full battle during the Bush II presidency, and then exploding into an almost pathological warfare during the Obama administrations. Granted, this election may be looked at like a grand battle of the War Between the States, a Gettysburg if you will. But smaller, equally important battles have been raging for the past four years and will continue to rage throughout the next four years.
All we have to do is think back to the election of 2008. The country was sick of the Bush/Cheyney wars and economy. The republicans put out a ticket that turned out to be sacrificial lambs in John McCain and Sarah Palin and the Democratic party swept to as impressive an electoral victory as had been seen for decades. The word in Democratic circles was that the Republicans had managed to work their way into irrelevancy. Between their misguided economic and foreign policies and their lack of recognition of the changing demographics within the United States, the Democratic party apparatus felt that the Republicans might have worked their way out of office for the next two decades. The obituaries were laced with the terms of unconditional surrender.
But the 2008 election was just another battle. The Democrats had an overwhelming force defeating a woefully unprepared Republican party. But the Republicans were going back to the drawing board and redefining their strategy. They began to understand that winning the major battles, those that were played out on the national scene were going to be difficult, but that there were smaller battles, local, state, and regional that would occur when most of the voters weren't fully engaged that would be winnable, even if the ideology was different from that of the electorate.
All the Democrats have to do is look at the results of the 2010 elections to realize how wrong we were to count out the Republicans in 2008. In local race after local race, in state house after state house, in governorship after governorship, the Republicans ran aggressive campaigns with extremely conservative candidates and won state after state and one house seat after another. If it wasn't for a few candidates who came across as close to insane, the Republicans might have swept to a majority in the senate and even greaterr majorities in the house.
Most of all, however, we have learned what type of damage has been done at the state level by underestimating the ability of these extremist Republicans to organize, attract money, and mobilize a base that votes in grand numbers in a low turnout election.
Yes, we won a huge victory on November 6th. But in state after state, women's rights are being attacked, our educational system is being raped and pillaged, infrastructure is rotting, attacks on voting rights are prevalent, threats to the separation of church and state are being faced almost daily. The Republican party is coming to the realization that they might not be able to win on a national level, but they are continuing to marshal their forces at the state and local level. They are hoping that those that decide on Democratic strategy stay focused on national elections and they will concede the national battles. What the Republicans will be doing is targeting those congressional districts, state houses, governorships, etc. that they know they can be competitive within. They are hoping that the Democratic party will place less effort into these races than will the Republicans. That end result would lead the country to the same place it is now. A federal government leaning center left and states that are moving increasingly right.
I personally have no "enemies" in the Republican party. I am, however, at war with the core philosophy of the Republican party. Both at a state and national level, I believe that the Republican approach to government hinders the growth of the working and middle classes while encouraging the chasm between the rich and the rest of population. The Democratic party cannot make the same mistake that it made in 2008. Winning a battle does not mean that you've won the war. 2014 will be another major battlefield of ideology. It is a battle that the Democratic party has to win. Congress has to be retaken. State houses and legislatures must be returned to Democratic control. We cannot underestimate the Republican party. They are excellent politicians who know how to strategize. Believe me, the Roves, the Kochs, and the other Republican movers and shakers are plotting their 2014 strategy right now. We have to make certain that our Democratic strategists are doing the same.