Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Morning After the Morning After

Votes are still being counted, but Barack Obama has won reelection to the Presidency of the United States.

On the morning after the morning after, pundits began weighing in on "what it all means." Liberals, of course, reiterated  the talking points of the Obama campaign--the war on women, the war on immigrants, the war on the working class--blah blah so forth. Some liberals pointed to the Republican Party ideology, although this year I cannot see that we really had one. Republicans meanwhile seemed engaged in the usual internal debate that every losing party has "the morning after." Do we change along the lines suggested by the Social Democrats? Do we reaffirm some core principles even though they may be unpopular? Or something else?

If we include the results in the House and Senate election in our considerations, I am not sure we can conclude that the election means much of anything. A stalemate in Washington continues. But hear is my take on why Romney lost.

The Candidate:

Mitt Romney seems an unlikely nominee after the conservatives revolt in the 2010 midterm elections. Some of us members of the Tea Party Movement eagerly anticipated the opportunity to choose which Republican nominee would best represent our views and extend the conservative revolt to Pennsylvania Avenue. We ended up, however, with a big government moderate who benefited from the support of the Republican establishment. Contrary to the claims of Tea Party Patriots National Coordinator Jenny Beth Martin, Romney was not hand picked by the establishment. We looked at candidate after candidate in search for a conservative, but found them wanting. After each of them imploded, we ended up with Romney--a weak  nominee challenging a weak incumbent.

A fundamentally decent man, Romney appeared  not to possess any clear core political principles. Or if he had them, he failed to articulate them. He seemed more like a Republican version of that other Massachusetts technocrat--Michael Dukakis. Although he possessed executive experience as governor of Massachusetts, he rarely appealed to it. He ran on executive experience as a businessman who knew how to create jobs.

The Campaign:

Romney emerged from the Republican primaries an already battered candidate. His competitors for the Republican nomination provided the Social Democrats most of their "narrative." Republican accusations of Romney being a "vulture capitalist" and "looking like the guy who fired you" were more than just shocking in that they came from Republicans. They  provided the theme for the Obama supporters. Even before the Republican convention, Obama PACs began running ads using Romney's chief qualification--a businessman--against him. And the ads addressed more that just performance as a businessman: they leveled personal attacks on his character. These ads went on for so long without reply, especially in Ohio,  that one pundit called the months before the convention "Mitt's Lost Summer."

Romney recovered somewhat during the debates. Even while losing the last two debates, Romney improved his image and changed the momentum of the race. Still, Romeny "the businessman"  never really connected with the blue collar "Reagan Democrats" of Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

In addition, he never successfully put away the bogus "war on women." Granted, he had to overcome the efforts of the liberal mainstream media to keep the issue in play. Unfortunately, the  ignorant comments by senate candidates Todd Akin and Robert Mourdock threw fuel on the fire. They not only hurt Romney, but also cost the Republicans two winnable seats in the Senate.

While Romney needed to keep things "positive" in his personal campaigning, he needed to go "negative" with ads. It is difficult to assess the campaign on this issue. Living in Georgia, a state Romney expected to easily carry, I saw few ads from either party. I do not know what transpired in so called "battleground states." I do not recall any news on ads calling out Obama on the Benghazi coverup, on the  corruption of stimulus funds to political supporters, or on government by executive order.

Romney and Ryan hit most of the key economic issues--jobs, budget, debt, regulation, etc. They failed to articulate these issues within the context of the philosophy of limited government and freedom. This may have added some appeal to their campaign and perhaps would have permitted them to distance themselves from the last Bush administration. Instead, the Obama campaign easily brushed aside the economic issues by blaming Bush and claiming he just needs more time. And they gave him more time.  Although Obama has exacerbated the situation,  most voters do blame Bush. The Social Democrats now use Bush the same way that Republicans used  Jimmy Carter.

 And depending on how long our current economic crisis continues, we might still be  hearing about Bush in 2016.

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