Electoral Lessons: Statesmanship vs. Jerks
There can be many lessons drawn from this election; but perhaps the most important of these lessons is that, in American politics, it no longer pays to be a jerk.
Rick Santorum - one of the biggest jerks in the history of American politics - fell by the wayside in the Republican primary. Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock, Scott Brown and George Allen - also major jerks - lost in the general election. Romney can be credited with having run a cleaner campaign than many of his Republican predecessors; and he put in a respectable showing, only losing the general election by 2 million votes out of more than 110 million cast.
Republicans conducted themselves like complete jerks when Clinton was in power; yet Clinton was re-elected to the second term in office and is now one of the most popular ex-presidents in America. Republicans conducted themselves like complete jerks in 1998, during the Lewinski episode, and they lost in the congressional election that took place that year. Bush acted like a jerk for a major chunk of his presidency, and he is now tied with Nixon as the most hated ex-President in the memory of people now living. Rush Limbaugh - another major Republican jerk - is seen as such by a majority of the American population. I think that the American voters are making it clear that they are tired of politicians acting like jerks and are opting for real statesmanship.
Both Romney and McCain can be credited with acting like gentlemen during the electoral campaigns, and both of them will be remembered as respectable political candidates. What has won in this election is more than just Barack Obama. The real winner has been American democracy, as the voters have made it clear that they are tired of ugliness and abusive behavior in political candidates and want a higher-level political discourse.
The more this is done by both sides, the greater the respectability of politics in America and the more benefit can be achieved by all the parties involved.