I am gutted. Devastated. What a disaster.
I’ve followed, and participated in, a lot of elections throughout my life. This one has been the hardest to take by some margin. Most elections you know whether you are going to win or lose. This was one I genuinely thought we were going to win. To lose… well, it’s right up there with the ’95 Rugby World Cup.
It is gut wrenching to think that we will now have four more years of trillions of dollars of debt to add on. That Iran is now almost certain to develop a nuclear weapon. That the possibility of World War Three becomes so much higher. That healthcare will become even more expensive and crush the middle class of this country. In most elections, the stakes are exaggerated, in this one they were not. Obama now has four more years to mess things up. Everyone will suffer.
Two things I always say about elections, however. Firstly, people get the government they deserve. And secondly, we only need to win once and everything changes. The Left need to win every time for things to stay the same. So they can have this one, because they won’t be lucky enough to get an old school moderate like Romney next time around.
How did such a god-awful, incompetent President get re-elected? A lot of Republicans are panicking about this, and the MSM are egging them on. I am not so sure that panic is necessary, or healthy. This was not a rejection of right wing ideas for starters. In fact, if you read the exit polls, a majority of voters were more aligned with the GOP platform than the Donk one. People think government does too much. People don’t like amnesty. People don’t want higher taxes. On ideas alone, Romney was winning. So those who talk about Republicans realigning their platform on that basis are speaking too soon.
Here’s what happened:
1) Hurricane Sandy/Chris Christie. If it weren’t for the big storm one week out, it’s entirely possible that we would be looking at President-elect Romney today, and all the navel-gazing would be on the other side. Romney had a clear lead before the storm, and then it disappeared, as Romney disappeared from TV screens and made way for Obama to look Presidential in a crisis. Then Chris Christie came along and made Obama look conciliatory and bi-partisan. He didn’t have to do that. Michael Bloomberg, who ironically endorsed Obama, refused to meet with him for a photo-op. The storm, and the New Jersey Governor, conspired to put Romney back to square one.
However, the hurricane is not the full story. The hurricane is like the Joel Stransky drop-kick in this sorry saga, but the Springboks didn’t win just because Stransky booted one over. Before the Stransky goal there was a whole game where the greatest rugby team of all time failed to put the game away. And so it was with Romney, bringing us to…
2) Obama defined Romney all summer. Romney sat on his arse before the last two months of the campaign and let Obama’s team paint him as the most evil man alive. If there’s one lesson that should come out of this campaign, it’s that just because what your opponent says sounds crazy to you, it may not sound crazy to low information voters. There were probably hundreds of thousands of women out there who voted for Obama because they genuinely believed Romney wanted to ban contraception. There was no “there you go again” response from Romney on the bulk of these sorts of slurs. Romney made up for it in the latter part of the campaign, but it turned out to be not enough. As for Romney himself…
3) The nominee was flawed. I am not going to sit here and criticize Romney too much. As above, he should have introduced himself to the public and started spending money earlier, but that is the only bone I have to pick with his camp. They ran an otherwise stellar campaign. The real problem was the raw materials. I grew to like Romney as a person throughout the campaign, but the last person you want to run for your party in 2012, when people are hurting, is a flip-flopping multimillionaire venture capitalist with a habit of not being concrete about his intentions. That’s just fish in a barrel stuff for Democrats. The Republicans severely handicapped themselves in nominating him. It is impossible to know, but entirely possible that Santorum would have been a better choice. And in hindsight, maybe the real tragedy of this election was Huckabee’s decision not to enter the fray. I suspect he would have stormed home.
No, the Republicans do not need to change their message. The message is just fine. What they do need to change are the messengers. All eyes are on Rubio now for 2016. Obama got ahead and stayed there because Republicans were too easily demagogued this time around. The party needs to be ready for that next time.