Takeaways from the 2012 election

The election of 2012 mercifully has come to an end. Now we can go back to the business of getting ready for the after-Thanksgiving sales. But, what, if anything, can we take away from this year?s balloting?

First, we learned that super PACs are here to stay, and they are major players. More than $1.3 billion was spent by conservative estimates during this election season to try to buy everything from statehouse seats to the presidency.

This torrent of cash was unleashed by a 2010 Supreme Court ruling that permitted big donors to anonymously contribute to the candidate or cause of their choosing.

Republicans were responsible for spending two-thirds of the super PAC total. The return on that investment was low by all accounts. But, the genie is out of the bottle.

Second, I was surprised by the number of supporters of President Obama that surfaced after the election.

When people ask me what I thought of the election, my first response is, ?It depends on who is asking.? I maintain my status as an independent voter, but it is not a secret that, while I may not think I favor the left, I definitely lean away from the far right. An unexpected number of acquaintances have indicated in the past week that they agree with me politically.

Despite being deeply entrenched in Republican Kansas, some have even loudly proclaimed that they voted to retain the president. I prefer not to discuss my vote at all, though I will say I cast my ballot in favor of lower taxes for boating enthusiasts. We do live next door to a lake, after all.

Certainly, the election outcome has led to some serious soul searching by Republicans. They are finally being forced to admit that they are the party of mostly old white guys?with the previously noted exception of Kansas. The Democratic Party prevailed because it appealed to young people, women, African Americans and Latinos.

The Grand Old Party also failed because it still insisted on clinging to the notion that it can scare people into voting for its candidates.

Listen, nobody is going to take away your guns, your church, your dog, your pickup truck or even your Social Security check just because Barack Obama won another four years in the White House. For better or worse, your marriage will not end. You are not more likely to start smoking pot. No one is going to force you to replace your Christmas carols with Muslim chants.

Unfortunately, we will be stuck with the electoral college for the foreseeable future. The only scenario I could have imagined that might change things would have been Mitt Romney winning the popular vote, and Obama winning the electoral vote.

We saw in 2000 the opposite outcome, and nothing came of it. Since the president won both, there will be no further discussion of the issue.

I was also disappointed that two cities in our area voted in favor of discriminating against its own citizens. In addition, I fail to understand why people in Wichita are still so afraid of fluoride in their water. They pay big bucks for treatments at dentists? offices that slather their children?s teeth in the stuff.

Finally, there are far too many unopposed candidates running for local and state offices. I would like to have a choice on election day. Either our slate of office seekers is just that stellar, or many potential candidates have become disenfranchised with the system and how they would have to sell their souls to the devil in order to bow to political party leaders.

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