Republicans don’t seem to be taking the 2012 election losses well. I hear that some of us are off at a retreat somewhere, plotting a comeback of some kind. Others (like me) have stopped contributing any more money to the GOP for a while (I gave, too generously, in 2012). Still others are no doubt curled into a ball, weeping uncontrollably. But a question remains: What happened in 2012?
Eric Erickson gave us one answer in his brutal look at how consultants took the money and ran in 2012. It’s hard to fight a battle if con men have run away with all your ammunition.
Another reason is that we were facing a well-funded opponent, backed by three very powerful allies: Leftist Hollywood, Leftist Media, and Leftist Education. The Education crowd has been turning out Democrat-indoctrinated voters for forty years. These people then get their news and information from the Leftist Media, and their cultural touchpoints from Leftist Hollywood. Not surprisingly, they are primed to vote Democrat by the time they reach the age of 18.
But I think there are a couple of more basic reasons. William McGurn in the Wall Street Journal pointed one out: The Democrats have an intrinsically more attractive message.
The conservative is rightly concerned with incentives and the long-term effects of any government program for relief, which are vital concerns for workable policy. The liberal is far less abstract: Here are some food stamps so your children don’t go hungry tonight.
Republicans (conservatives, at least) have a message that, let’s face it, is not very appetizing at first glance. Self denial, delayed gratification, fidelity, saving for a rainy day, paying your bills, etcetera. Democrats have a much nicer message: Here’s some free stuff to make your life better.
Author P. J. O’Rourke had a somewhat more general and yet more pithy way of putting this in his 1992 book Parliament of Whores: “God is a Republican and Santa Claus is a Democrat … Santa Claus is nice. He’s nonthreatening. He gives everyone everything they want. Santa Claus is preferable to God in every way except one: There is no such thing as Santa Claus.” Of course, the Democrat worldview is no more sustainable than a Ponzi scheme or a perpetual-motion machine, yet people still invest in those also.
Another reason we lost in 2012 was pointed out by Matt K. Lewis in The Week , and this one I also think is correct: The country no longer agrees with us.
In the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, Republicans did quite well electorally. Simultaneously, however, our society became coarser, more permissive, less traditional, and more socially liberal. And while politicians won elections, our young people turned to Hollywood for guidance. For every Republican elected, there were 10 films or songs (many of them quite good, actually) selling sex, drugs, and violence. Of course, this all comes down to that clichéd line about the breakdown of the family unit. It’s clichéd because it’s true.
We have lost the culture wars. Actually, America lost the culture wars, years ago. (This goes back to the Leftist Education/Media/Hollywood mentioned above.) But no matter the reason, the day when you could win an election (or even pull double digits) simply by thumping a Bible and shouting “God said it, I believe it and that settles it!” are long, long gone. Nobody gets married anymore. Everybody wants pot legalized. Hooking up is the new normal. We don’t have Christmas anymore, we have the “Winter Holidays.” Unemployment, welfare and food stamps are no longer shameful things, they’re guiltless freebies. Honey Boo Boo has higher approval ratings than the Pope. Get used to it, it’s unlikely to change.
What to do about this? I don’t know. I think things are going to get a lot worse before they get better. However, if anybody has any ideas, I’d love to hear them.