Political lessons of 2012

Phil: As you look back over 2012, any big political lessons learned that you’ll carry forward into 2013?

Ethan: Yeah, that your party has got to learn to moderate. My goodness, from immigration to taxes to guns, you guys are off the deep end.

Phil: Isn’t it remarkable that believing people should come to America legally, that high spending is the problem, not low taxes, and that upholding the words in the Constitution is, as you say, extreme?

Ethan: C’mon, Phil, your leadership talks of exporting the children of undocumented parents. They are unwilling to tax the wealthy to get our fiscal house in order and to reduce the widening income gap, and they appear to believe the answer to Sandy Hook is more guns in schools. This is not the party that your grandfather represented in the state Legislature.

Phil: Oh, please. As if your party doesn’t have its share of folks going off the deep end. You’ve got people who want to ban all guns, who think we should tax the rich at 90 percent and who would simply grant amnesty to every illegal currently in the country.

Ethan: Well, at least my crazies don’t run my party. But, honestly, you don’t think we should tax the rich at 90 percent…?

Phil: Here’s a lesson I learned. The dot-com era has dramatically changed elections, and candidates who don’t learn how to use it will surely lose.

Ethan: I have no clue what that means.

Phil: Obama’s campaign team used the Internet in ways that haven’t been done before. He found the votes to stay in office be using technology to discredit Mitt Romney and appeal to people who are under informed and driven by emotion. They were brilliant. Political strategists must be quick to emulate these tactics in future elections.

Ethan: Indeed. The Obama team has taken technology to a whole new level. And that’s what I thought in 2008, before I saw what they accomplished in 2012! However, if you think Obama won because the electorate is merely emotional and uninformed, then no matter what technology you utilize, you will not win the White House for many terms to come.

Phil: Perhaps not emotional and uninformed, but many in my party worry that America’s best days are behind us. Those who generate the jobs — small business people — are seeing the future filled with more taxes, daunting healthcare regulations and all levels of government promising unattainable benefits. Big government and big business are like the story about two wolves and a sheep deciding what to have for lunch.

Ethan: Well, I certainly agree with you that big business and government are in cahoots, and that small businesses are ignored by our policy makers. It has been that way for decades.

Phil: Unless the small business person has a proper seat at the table, I believe America is in trouble.

Ethan: Another major lesson I learned (or perhaps was reminded of), is that the arc of the moral universe does indeed bend toward justice. Having four states in one year beat back homophobia and allow those who love each other to marry (after 32 states in a row had rejected the same) was perhaps the most important outcome of 2012. It also taught me that you can’t give up, no matter how many times you get knocked down.

Phil: Another outcome of Election Day is the re-ignited conflict between state and federal power. As more and more states legalize marijuana for medical or recreational use, the federal government is going to have to decide whether to follow suit or start enforcing its laws. Not healthy to simply ignore the conflict.

Ethan: Not to start looking ahead in a column dedicated to looking behind, but your issue reminds me that this coming year the Supreme Court is going to have to resolve another federal-state conflict. Currently, the federal government relies on states to define marriage and who should get federal benefits. Except when it comes to gay marriage. Let’s hope they resolve it in favor of state’s rights.

Phil: I agree with you on that one. The feds shouldn’t be telling the states who can or can’t get married within their own borders.

Ethan: So, the lessons you learned in 2012 are that technology is taking over our elections, that our best days may be behind us, and that people better smoke ’em if they got ’em, because the feds are going to start cracking down. Pretty depressing.

Phil: And you learned that extremism loses at the ballot box, that the tide has turned on gay marriage and that we should never give up fighting for what we believe in. Definitely more optimistic than mine, but then again, Democrats did have a better year than Republicans. Just watch out for 2013…