On Tuesday New Mexico elected their first Female Hispanic Governor, Susana Martinez. South Carolina, long considered one of the most "racist" states in the Union elected their first Female Indian-American governor, Nikki Haley. Florida elected a Cuban-American senator, Marco Rubio.
From their inception in the 1850s until the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the GOP was the generally more accepting party when it came to minorities. When Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 a lot of White Southern Democrats felt betrayed by LBJ and his fellow Democrats in Congress and became Republicans.
Ever since then the GOP has been portrayed as a party of hate, racism, xenophobia, ignorance, big business, stupidity, etc. etc. But George W. Bush, love him or hate him-- for all of his faults he had more minorities serving in his cabinet than any president before. When you add Marco Rubio, Nikki Haley, and Susanna Martinez to the mix I'd argue there's an embracing within the GOP of people of minority. There's been an embrace of putting ideas before race or gender within the party. I believe this is in some part attributable to Obama's election and the heavy losses the GOP took in Congress in 2006 and 2008 forcing the Republican leadership to look inwards, retreat, and re-group.
That's not to say there aren't still elements within the GOP, stalwarts who share the ideas of those who joined the GOP in 1964 with racist motivations. That's somewhat unavoidable. I'm not about to condemn the whole GOP for the actions of a small, but vocal, element of the party any more than I'd have branded the entire Democratic Party pre-1964 as being racist... There were racist elements within the party yes but if the whole party had been truly racist to the core they never would have been the party to have passed the Civil Rights Act and who knows we might still be dealing with Jim Crow laws today if not for those in government with the vision and courage to end centuries of racial discrimination and injustice.
In reading some of the more left-leaning commentary on the results of Tuesday's election there's an undercurrent of intellectual superiority that's bubbling close to the surface. I'll concede that for some who voted Tuesday our President's skin color was and continues to be an issue. But I'd counter despite growing more vocal in some regards that contingent is growing smaller and smaller. But it wasn't a bunch of ignorant racists that gave the House of Representatives back to the GOP. The party faithful aren't the ones who decide elections, it's the independents and swing voters who decide elections. And generally it's those voters who vote with their wallets.
The GOP lost control of Congress in 2006 with even more losses in 2008 due largely to their blatant disregard of any semblance of fiscal restraint during the Bush administration. Under Clinton between 1996 and 2000 as volatile as it became at times Clinton and the GOP led Congress acted as counter-balances to one another preventing the country from drifting too far to either the left or right. Under Bush many of those congressmen/women lost their way and any semblance of fiscal restraint they might have had/been forced to have under Clinton contributing to the financial meltdown in 2008. The American people were hungry for a more responsible Congress... Instead the only thing that changed was how the money was being spent... "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss." There was no more fiscal restraint since the Democrats took over the Congress than there was under the GOP in 2000-2006. THAT is the core reason why the Democrats took such heavy losses on Tuesday. They viewed their victories as pro-Democratic mandates... In reality, those were anti-Republican mandates.
The rhetoric coming from the newly elected Republicans is arguably far more humble than that of the Democrats in 2006 or 2008 or for that matter even their GOP predecessors back in 1994 and I do hope that humility stays with them that they learn from the mistakes of their predecessors in both parties. Many of them DO realize their elections are not a pro-Republican mandate they're a call for more fiscal responsibility and the American people will keep "turning over" Congresses until we get the right batch of people to keep government spending in check and return to the days of balanced budgets. If the Republicans continue the spendthrift ways of their predecessors, Congress will turn back over... maybe in 2012, maybe not until 2016, but it WILL happen.