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Diane W. Mufson: Politics of the future require pragmatism

Nov. 14, 2012 @ 09:46 AM

The election is over, and of course the 2016 presidential candidates are actively planning for the next election. The 2012 election results had some surprises. With the exception of Nate Silver, the new "prediction guru," the rest of us had to wait until the votes were counted.

Yet, the most salient message from this election is that the United States is changing. We are evolving in many ways; the result is that old-line politics cannot remain static. Pragmatic politics will be the new game.

First among the realistic issues is that America's minorities will, within two generations, be America's majority. Whether Americans like this or not is immaterial. It is simply what is happening.

No longer can Hispanic, African-American, female or young voters be discounted. These "new kids on the block" mean that traditional voting blocks are not what they used to be.

Sensible immigration legislation has evaded both parties for years. It's not just the people clamoring to be let into our country legally or otherwise; it's the fact that we have never figured out how to deal with the people already here.

The Republicans now know that they cannot advocate building a higher wall, sending young adults who have grown up here back to the country of their birth or "self-deportation" and expect Hispanics to vote for them. Besides, Puerto Rico now thinks it would like to be our 51st State. Pragmatic politics demands a realistic plan for immigration.

Then there's gay marriage and other related issues. Remember when repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was going to "hurt our military?" It isn't even on our radar these days. With Maine and Maryland voting to permit gay marriage, that issue should be off the federal political table. As they say in New York, "fuhgeddaboudit."

Being a female may make my view on this next subject one-sided, but the clear majority of women voters want respect and the right to make independent decisions regarding their bodies and health.

We'll be darned if we elect political dinosaurs who can decide how the female body works. Two Republican senatorial candidates who should have won election -- Richard Mourdock, R-Ind., and Todd Akin, R-Mo. -- were defeated largely due to their ignorant utterances about rape and female anatomy. Their prehistoric thinking hurt them and their party.

And speaking of health care, there isn't much point in talking about repealing "Obamacare." Sure it needs tweaking and updating, but we are finally going to join the rest of the developed nations and provide an avenue for most of our citizens to have health care insurance. Let's not waste time going backward.

Republicans need to jettison their time and energy on birth control, abortion and traditional marriage and get on with issues of national importance. Our economy, monetary policies, national deficit, unemployment, Social Security, Medicare, relations with countries in the Middle East and China all demand concentrated attention and policies that will bolster our nation's security and progress.

The 2012 presidential and congressional election results were not so much about our nation adoring President Obama or the Democratic Party. It was a rejection of Republican out-of-date values and narrow thinking that irritated the new wave of independent-minded voters.

Perhaps the major message from the election is that Americans expect action to cure our nation's financial and economic ills and moderate Republicans and Democrats better learn how to work together to solve these issues quickly. Pragmatic politics; it's the future.

Diane W. Mufson is a licensed psychologist, a former citizen member of The Herald-Dispatch editorial board and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page. Her email is dwmufson@comcast.net.

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