Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Ed Koch: Advice to Both Republicans and Democrats

November 13, 2012 10:27 am 0 comments

President Barack Obama talks with Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., Republican Whip, at the conclusion of a meeting with bipartisan Congressional leadership in the Oval Office Private Dining Room. Photo: Pete Souza.

President Barack Obama won reelection in a blowout. Some will ask how I can say “blowout” when he narrowly won the popular vote. President Obama won by a margin of about 3 million votes, winning 62,085,892 votes, compared with Mitt Romney’s 58,777,012 votes. However, the President handily won the electoral college by a majority of 332 to 206. Two-hundred and seventy electoral votes were needed to win.

The Republicans kept control of the House of Representatives, but lost seats, so that the House formerly 242 Republicans and 193 Democrats, is now 233 Republicans and 194 Democrats. There are still a number of races that haven’t been decided.

In the Senate, the Democrats won an additional 2 seats, so that they now have a majority of 55, but still lack the super majority of 60 needed to end a filibuster. In the last Congress, the Republicans never actually filibustered; they merely threatened to filibuster, and the Democrats caved. The Republicans should no longer be permitted to simply threaten. They should have to actually begin the filibuster and see how long the Democratic leadership gives them before calling for a simultaneous vote ending the filibuster and a vote on the legislation with the assistance of five Republican moderates.

Obama carried all but one of the battleground states, and that was North Carolina. Florida was not called until several days after the national vote, but ultimately was carried by Obama by the narrowest of margins, 50 percent to 49.1 percent, a difference of only 74,000 votes. I was particularly interested in Florida, having provided to the Obama campaign two op eds, two robo calls and one five-minute video commercial, which they split in two and played on the Obama website. I was pleased to get from my campaign contact after the election the following e-mail message: “Mayor, I can’t begin to adequately express my personal gratitude for your critical leadership throughout this past year. I know that it was not always an easy thing to be in the trenches with us. Judging by the narrow margin in Florida, it’s evident that your support was invaluable…”

On Geraldo Rivera’s radio show, both Bill O’Reilly and I participated by telephone and O’Reilly agreed that Obama had had a big victory, but objected to my calling it a blowout. I think I was right to do so but, in any event, winning is always better than losing, no matter the margin of victory.

What lessons should the Republicans take from their loss; and what should the Democrats do with their victory over the next four years?

The core or base of the Republican Party since the election of Ronald Reagan has been the Christian right, especially the Evangelicals in the South and Midwest. The New York Times of November 10, 2012, in an article by Laurie Goodstein, provided the best analysis of the many I read and heard in the media. She wrote: “They are reeling not only from the loss of the presidency, but from what many of them see as a rejection of their agenda. They lost fights against same-sex marriage in all four states where it was on the ballot, and saw anti-abortion-rights Senate candidates defeated and two states vote to legalize marijuana for recreational use. It is not as though they did not put up a fight; they went all out as never before: The Rev. Billy Graham dropped any pretense of nonpartisanship and all but endorsed Mitt Romney for president. Roman Catholic bishops denounced President Obama’s policies as a threat to life, religious liberty and the traditional nuclear family. Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition distributed more voter guides in churches and contacted more homes by mail and phone than ever before. ‘Millions of American evangelicals are absolutely shocked by not just the presidential election, but by the entire avalanche of results that came in,’ R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, in Louisville, Ky., said in an interview. ‘It’s not that our message – we think abortion is wrong, we think same-sex marriage is wrong – didn’t get out. It did get out. It’s that the entire moral landscape has changed,’ he said. ‘An increasingly secularized America understands our positions, and has rejected them.'”

The lesson for the Republicans is they will never win future presidential elections unless and until their platform accommodates diversity of opinion on hot-button issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage and use of medical or recreational marijuana. The Republicans have increasingly sought to impose by law their religious beliefs on others. If their party is to remain a national party, they should seek to persuade and educate, not to mandate by law. The best example of the Republican failed effort to mandate that contributed to their defeat was their platform on abortion, which advocates legislation barring abortion, even to save the life of the mother or in cases of rape or incest.

Then there are the “third rail” issues of Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid. They should know by now that, while the public understands these contracts with the government must be made solvent via reductions in benefits, the government contracts cannot be privatized. The Republican Party can still advocate for changes in the roles of both the federal and state governments. It can argue against government guarantees that protects the public against losses in the event of misfortune caused by nature or the economy. Both parties argue against red tape and bureaucracy. But the Republican Party seeks to substantially deregulate Wall Street and the banking industry, while the Democratic Party seeks to protect consumers to a far greater extent. Its support of Wall Street, the banks and opposition to increasing taxes on the truly wealthy have caused the public to see the Republican Party as a protector of the rich. For them to continue with that philosophy would be one of their greatest continuing blunders. My advice is, they should study the history and policies of Abe Lincoln and use his image in the same way we Democrats use the image of F.D.R. Currently, they only use Lincoln dinners to raise campaign funds.

President Obama’s response to his huge electoral victory should be to accept the fact that the Republicans still control one-third of the legislative process: the House of Representatives. He should make every effort to reach agreement with the Republicans on the vitally important fiscal cliff issues such as revenue raising and expense cutting, reducing the national debt, revising the tax code and eliminating loopholes. I, for one, liked the idea that Mitt Romney offered in the last few weeks of the campaign which was to limit all loopholes available to an individual to a maximum of $25,000. The taxpayer would then decide how to distribute that amount among his allowable deductions for interest on mortgage and charitable contributions, etc.

President Obama should also identify half a dozen issues that he would like to be part of his legacy and, irrespective of Republican support, seek to accomplish them in this, his last term.

A good rule of thumb, I believe, in compromising differences based on the outcome of the elections would be 60 percent of the issues should be resolved in favor of the victors – Democrats and 40 percent in favor of the losers – Republicans. What do you think?

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Blogs Book Reviews Can ‘Islamic Reformation’ Work? (REVIEW)

    Can ‘Islamic Reformation’ Work? (REVIEW)

    It is cocktail hour on an April afternoon in 2004. The sun is hot on Amsterdam’s canals, and I am sitting at Café den Leeuw on the Herengracht with Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Hirsi Ali is still a member of the Dutch Parliament, and we talk about Islam. Specifically, we talk about the concept of “moderate Islam,” or what she calls “liberal Islam.” And she has one word for it. “It’s absurd,” she says. “It’s complete nonsense. There is no ‘liberal […]

    Read more →
  • Food Jewish Identity A Look at the Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook (REVIEW)

    A Look at the Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook (REVIEW)

    Everybody knows that cooking varies from country to country. There are Italian restaurants, Chinese restaurants, etc. We associate different styles of cuisine with different languages. Do we also think of the association of different cuisines with different dialects? We should, because cooking also varies from region to region. Litvaks and Galitsyaners have their own traditions of preparing gefilte fish. Marvin I. Herzog, in his book The Yiddish Language in Northern Poland: Its Geography and History (Indiana University, Bloomington, and Mouton & Co., The […]

    Read more →
  • Relationships US & Canada Analysis: Jewish Women Less Likely Than Catholics to Take Husband’s Name

    Analysis: Jewish Women Less Likely Than Catholics to Take Husband’s Name

    An analysis of New York Times wedding announcements showed that women married in Jewish ceremonies were less likely to take their husband’s last names than those married in Roman Catholic ceremonies, the Times reported on Saturday. The largest gap between the two groups was in 1995 when 66 percent of Catholic women took their husband’s names and 33 percent of Jewish women did the same. Nearly half of the women featured in the publication’s wedding pages since 1985 took their husband’s name after marriage, while about […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Jerry Lewis, Legendary Jewish Comic and Humanitarian, Stays Relevant at 89

    Jerry Lewis, Legendary Jewish Comic and Humanitarian, Stays Relevant at 89

    JNS.org – Through appreciation of both his comedy and humanitarian work, legendary Jewish entertainer Jerry Lewis is staying relevant at age 89. The only comic to ever be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, Lewis added another award to his trophy case in April, when he received the 2015 Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB). Gordon Smith, NAB’s president and CEO, said the organization was “honored to recognize not only [Lewis’s] comedic innovation, but also his remarkable […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Israeli Gymnasts Win Bronze, Silver Medals at 2015 European Games in Baku

    Israeli Gymnasts Win Bronze, Silver Medals at 2015 European Games in Baku

    Israeli athletes marked a successful day on Sunday, as gymnasts won multiple bronze and silver medals in the 2015 European Games in Baku. The Gymnastics team won two silver medals and one bronze in group events, while Neta Rivkin, an Israeli Olympic gymnast, won bronze for the Solo Hoops event. Sunday’s gymnastics wins follow Sergey Richter’s bronze on June 16 for the Men’s 10 meter air-rifle, and Ilana Kratysh’s silver for women’s freestyle wrestling. The 2015 European Games in Baku are […]

    Read more →
  • Theater Report Highlights Success of Russian-Jewish-American Ballroom Dancers

    Report Highlights Success of Russian-Jewish-American Ballroom Dancers

    Russian-American Jews are some of the most successful ballroom dancing competitors in the U.S., South Dakota Public Broadcasting (SDPB) Radio reported on Thursday. Jonathan Sarna, a professor of Jewish history at Brandeis University, said their success can be traced back to Jewish discrimination in the former Soviet Union. Because of the prejudice they faced, Russian Jews had to perform better than their peers in every field, including dancing, in order to have a chance of getting ahead. “They knew that if they […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Israeli Dancer With Shofar, Prayer Shawl Wows ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Judges (VIDEO)

    Israeli Dancer With Shofar, Prayer Shawl Wows ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Judges (VIDEO)

    An Israeli dancer made use of Jewish props in an extraordinary routine that left judges amazed when he auditioned for season 12 of TV dance competition So You Think You Can Dance on Monday. At first, the panel of judges appeared confused when Asaf Goren, 23, began his audition in Los Angeles with a tallit (prayer shawl) over his head and the blowing of a shofar, which he explained “opens the sky” for people’s prayers. However, as soon as he started his “Hebrew breaking” performance, […]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Jewish Hoops Fairytale Falls Short as David Blatt’s Cavaliers Drop Game 6

    Jewish Hoops Fairytale Falls Short as David Blatt’s Cavaliers Drop Game 6

    JNS.org – A fairytale ending to Jewish basketball coach David Blatt’s first season in the National Basketball Association (NBA) was not meant to be, as the Blatt-led Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night dropped Game 6 of the NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors, 105-97, to lose the best-of-seven series 4-2. Blatt, who just last year coached Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv franchise to a European basketball championship, failed to finish a second straight hoops season on top. But after the Cavaliers began the NBA […]

    Read more →