The Day After…
Well, we lost. Mitt Romney didn’t win comfortably. BUT, Republicans maintained control of the House of Representatives. In one of the most ignominious highlights of the night, the GOP lost two senate seats – increasing the Democratic majority by two. The current makeup is 55 Democrats to 45 Republicans. In a milestone for the ladies, 20% of the U.S. Senate will be represented by women. However, the night ended a bit like 2004 in reverse.
While the notions of GOP turnout seemed assured, it was rarely monitored, and turnout for the youth (and voter turnout in general) was unexpectedly high. To no one’s surprise, young voters broke for the president (60-36), but represented a larger share of the electorate than four years ago. Romney’s lead amongst independents wasn’t enough to overcome the Latino vote, which he lost to Obama miserably 72%-23%. Lastly, Romney wasn’t able to cut into the gender gap quite as effectively as he wanted to, with the president winning women, overall, by eleven points. However, it’s with unmarried women that Romney had a fatal disadvantage with, as they broke for Obama 67% to 31%.
On states, betting on Pennsylvania proved to another catastrophic play. We haven’t won the Keystone State in almost a quarter century, and it may be time to part company completely. Concerning Wisconsin, the state may have swung right on recent elections, but perhaps the ‘fairness voters’ – voters who may not agree with Walker’s policies, but are appalled that unions would want to revoke an election result – turned out to vote for the president this time. In Ohio and Virginia, Romney’s failure to execute the war on coal narrative sooner, and formulating a response to the Bain ads, contributed to his defeat.
Without a doubt, the Bain ads – the Obama campaign’s first official salvo in their ‘Kill Romney’ strategy – released right after Mitt unofficially clinched the Republican nomination resonated with Buckeye residents, and shame on the Governor’s communications team, who were on the defensive for most of the election cycle. In short, like with Goldwater in ’64, the Obama campaign was able to define Romney – before Romney could define himself. It’s another costly misfire.
However, I truly feel that Mitt Romney ran a good campaign, and did the best he could’ve with what he had regarding resources. It’s hard to be successful when you don’t have a Karl Rove, James Carville, or David Plouffe on your side. It also hurt that he couldn’t run on health care, since Romneycare served as the blue print for one of the most egregious affronts to the constitution since the Alien and Sedition Acts of the Adams administration.
Yet, if you looked at the field from the beginning, It was either going to be Mitt Romney or Rick Perry fighting for the nomination. Newt and Cain treated this serious event in American politics with the maturity of eight year olds at a lemonade stand – with the lemonade being books. For many Americans, Michele Bachmann failed the threshold question of any presidential candidate, which is do I trust this person with nuclear weapons? Disgraced former Pennsylvanian Senator Rick Santorum failed the conservative test, in my opinion, by voting for Medicare Part D, which added $ 7 trillion to the unfunded liability of the program. That’s 20% of the entire unfunded liability, which we now have to deal with before the fiscal cliff. He voted for Sonia Sotomayor for circuit judge. Santo voted against National Right to Work, Food Stamp reform, a flat tax, and Medicaid reform. He voted for internet taxes, the unionization of FedEx (twice), and No Child Left Behind. He took that one for the team.
Rick Perry, my choice for president, flamed out in one of the most epic derailments we’ve probably seen in a long time. Jon Huntsman was too moderate. Ron Paul was well, Ron Paul. So, we were left with Mitt Romney. Sometimes the pickings of the field aren’t too stellar, and we have to deal with that.
Again, I don’t blame Romney for the loss. Yes, Obama’s record of economic pain, which he has inflicted without mercy on the American people, is long, but his political team, along with the media, were able to spin it just enough to trivialize the fallout. As Ralph Reed, Founder and former Executive Director for the Faith and Freedom Coalition, said at CPAC 2012 last February – we’re about to face “the meanest, toughest, most vicious political team we’ve ever faced.” He was right, and we paid dearly for it.
Given Obama’s record, and Republicans’ inability to defeat him, it begs the question if the GOP should have any business being in American politics. Yes, they still do, but renovations need to be made. We need to do better with women – cough nix the rape talk cough cough – hispanics, and younger voters. The hispanic vote ruined the California GOP back in 1994 when Prop. 187 established a citizenship screening process and barred illegals from using state services was construed as ‘anti-immigrant.’ It was really protecting the territorial integrity of the United States, a core function of a nation in the international system, but that’s a different debate. Regardless, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and California Republicans have been in the bunker ever since.
We need to find ways to protect our sovereign soil, but in a way that doesn’t come off as nativist. Hispanics are hard-workers, religious, and pro-traditional marriage. Or, at least, that’s what was the conventional wisdom at the time. Heather MacDonald posted on National Review yesterday that:
a March 2011 poll by Moore Information found that Republican economic policies were a stronger turn-off for Hispanic voters in California than Republican positions on illegal immigration. Twenty-nine percent of Hispanic voters were suspicious of the Republican party on class-warfare grounds — “it favors only the rich”; “Republicans are selfish and out for themselves”; “Republicans don’t represent the average person”– compared with 7 percent who objected to Republican immigration stances.
I spoke last year with John Echeveste, founder of the oldest Latino marketing firm in southern California, about Hispanic politics. “What Republicans mean by ‘family values’ and what Hispanics mean are two completely different things,” he said. “We are a very compassionate people, we care about other people and understand that government has a role to play in helping people.”
So, despite Mitt’s shaky conservative credentials, without a doubt, he’s the most hard-lined presidential candidate on immigration we’ve had in the past ten years – and that didn’t hurt him with these voters. Bain, on the other hand, probably didn’t help.
Nevertheless, I’m not saying we should be for amnesty. We shouldn’t be. Amnesty is unfair and unethical – as is the president’s Dream Act light, which requires illegals to bribe the government $465 from doing it’s job enforcing federal law. However, what 2012 should show all conservatives is that our coalition, which to Paul Krugman’s chagrin truly represents the ‘Real America,’ is static. It’s more rural, blue collar, and white. That’s not enough to win elections. We need to improve outreach with minorities and venture back into the cities, or places where the people are, to make these contests competitive again. George W. Bush won 44% of the Latino vote in 2004, with increased majorities in the House and Senate. It’s not impossible. But it’ll be very difficult trying to chip away at the government’s “role in helping people,” which in Democrat speak for getting these people so dependent on us as possible, so they’re a lock when Election Day arrives.
Concerning the ladies, we need to exert a little more discretion when we talk about rape. While the Democratic National Convention could’ve been Abortion Fest 2012,the senate races in this cycle should have been more appropriately called Rape Fest. It’s odd that we even have to mention this, and some blame the Tea Party for these mishaps. I don’t. The Tea Party is the heart and soul of the Republican Party. As George Will once noted, they’re the best thing to happen in American politics since the Goldwater insurgency. Republicans would not be where they are now without the Tea Party, but that does not mean we should accept every one of their primary victors as serious candidates.
As Tucker Carlson and Neil Patel wrote in The Daily Caller yesterday:
The tea party believes the GOP establishment is ideologically corrupt. They’re right. But replacing the current leadership with obviously unqualified buffoons is no remedy. Republicans have lost at least five winnable Senate races in the last two cycles because they fielded candidates whose only real qualification was being anti-establishment. Many will argue the GOP can only win going forward with more liberal candidates. That’s not true. But the genuine conservatives they find will have to come with political skills, policy smarts and impressive resumes in order to get elected.
The sad truth is that even if the Republican Party did all this — sent its current leaders home and stopped nominating losers — it still wouldn’t be enough. The country is changing too fast. Most people have the sense that America is different demographically from what it was 20 years ago. But unless they’ve been reading the latest census data, they have no real idea. The changes are that profound. They’re also permanent and likely to accelerate. In order to remain competitive outside Utah, the GOP will have to win new voters, and soon.
That’s the Republican reformation plan, Stage B. They may get there. First they’ll have to tackle the basics, like finding fresh leadership and candidates who aren’t embarrassing.
That will take some serious vetting. Furthermore, we’re Republicans. We’re pro-life, and the American people know that about our movement. In elections centered on the economy, you can easily pivot away from such issues. Sadly, some of our fellow party members couldn’t help themselves, they shot their mouths off, and got trounced. There is much intra-party work to do – and it starts now.
Meanwhile, a divided America exists and the government we elected is representative of that partisanship. Michael Barone wrote also wrote in National Review that Americans on the right, and the others of the left, are no longer becoming culturally cohesive.
Ronald Reagan, speaking the language of the old, universal popular culture, could appeal to both Americas. His successors, not so much. Barack Obama, after an auspicious start, has failed to do so.
As a result, there are going to be many Americans profoundly unhappy with the result of this election, whichever way it goes. Those on the losing side will be especially angry with those whose candidate won.
Americans have faced this before. This has been a culturally diverse land from its colonial beginnings. The mid-20th-century cultural cohesiveness was the exception, not the rule.
We used to get along by leaving each other alone. The Founders established a limited government, neutral on religion, allowing states, localities, and voluntary associations to do much of society’s work. Even that didn’t always work: We had a Civil War.
An enlarged federal government didn’t divide mid-20th-century Americans, except on civil-rights issues. Otherwise, there was general agreement about the values government should foster.
Now the two Americas disagree, sharply. Government decisions enthuse one and enrage the other. The election may be over, but the two Americas are still not on speaking terms.
It’s sort of like this exchange between President Bartlet and Governor Ritchie.
Right now, Obama is in a good position to increases taxes, which will happen when Obamacare’s fully implemented in 2014, nominate SCOTUS appointments, which threaten to curtail our constitutional rights, and to continue this destructive surge in government spending that only shackles people to the will of the state through dependency. It’s up to House Republicans to obstruct Democratic plans, and put forward a deluge of alternatives of their own. Granted, we won’t be able to filibuster Supreme Court appointments, but this president’s agenda, and that of the Democrats, is inherently dangerous to the socioeconomic fabric of the country and we must fight them all the way. Concerning the fiscal cliff, maybe compromise can be reached. Yet, we should also remember that compromise is how we got Medicare Part D, No Child Left Behind, and the first round of federal stimulus under the Bush administration. Policies that attributed to the near collapse of the conservative movement in this country.
I’m pessimistic that a deal will be reached. This president’s ego would bust the marble in the Capitol dome – and he exuded poor presidential leadership as described in Bob Woodward’s new book The Price of Politics. Yet, Mr. Will again reminds us that throughout the course of American history there is not a single thing that the American people wanted intensely and protractedly that they did not eventually get from the federal government.