Skip to comments.Agonizing Reappraisal-Done Right!
Posted on 11/06/2012 10:42:38 PM PST by nathanbedford
The loss of this presidential election under these economic circumstances is so appalling that it raises existential questions about the Republican Party and the future of conservatism in America. With unemployment through the roof, with housing through the floor, with nearly 50,000,000 people on food stamps, with the government hemorrhaging money and the debt soaring, the Republican Party must ask itself, if we cannot win today can we ever win?
It is important to identify the reasons for this epic fail so that the conservative movement can go on. The first item of business is to distinguish between failure which can be blamed on the quality of the candidate or the mechanics of the campaign and a failure which represents a fatal disconnect with the people of America.
We are now in for a season of second-guessing Romney and the strategy of the campaign. This is inevitable and necessary but it is important that we do it constructively, it is important that it be done right.
We will hear many assertions: the acrimonious primary season inflicted wounds on ourselves which gave Obama a head start; Romney tactically left the field open to Obama after he clinched the nomination and Obama simply painted Romney negatively by carpet bombing him with television ads; Romney funneled his campaign strategy too narrowly, both geographically and philosophically-that is, Romney was too late going to Wisconsin, too late going to Pennsylvania, and Romney narrowed the focus of his campaign to economic issues only, thus conceding all other issues to Obama; Obama was thus able, with the support of a complicit media, to raise strawmen issues which were in many respects preposterous yet they forced Romney on the defensive and blunted his message on the economy; Romney picked the wrong vice presidential candidate, he should have picked Marco Rubio and he would have made inroads into the Hispanic vote and the failure to do so cost him the election; the selection of Paul Ryan was the physical embodiment of an abandonment of a campaign addressing the demographic realities of America to concentrate on a campaign of economic issues; the Romney campaign worked at cross purposes in the selection of Paul Ryan of Wisconsin when it coupled that choice with a failure heavily to campaign in Wisconsin-if the decision was to campaign almost exclusively on economic issues with Paul Ryan, that implied an all out campaign in Wisconsin which was never really undertaken until too late; the campaign ignored vulnerabilities and failed to exploit opportunities to wit: it lost the women's vote along with the Hispanic vote over bogus issues of abortion and birth control by failing to fight back and failing to present a credible female spokesperson and it failed to exploit Benghazi; the campaign made these errors of omission because of its fundamental mistake to concentrate on economic issues; Romney performed brilliantly in the first debate, even contriving to offset the advantage Obama had derived from his negative air war, but fatally decided to play it safe in the second and third debates and surrendered the momentum to Obama-and the failure to exploit Benghazi is the principle example of this failure of conception a shift nd execution; hurricane Sandy entered dues ex machine and, coupled with the treachery of Christie, gave the momentum back to Obama who have been cruising toward a loss.
Other second-guessers, probably featuring Rush Limbaugh prominently among them, will focus on the biography of Romney and maintain that the key failure was to nominate a Rino who cannot win but conservatives can win. The difficulty with this analysis is that the Republican Party clearly coalesced behind Romney after the first debate.
Others will avert to Romney's original assessment of the political landscape, that 47% of the population is lost to the Republican cause and the Republican candidate must concentrate on the remaining 53%. This is another way of casting the age-old tension between conservatives and Rinos because the Rinos solution, which was Romney's solution, is to focus exclusively on economic issues and run a white bread campaign. This means that Romney presented himself to be reassuring to independents, to women, as especially single women. The conservative rejoinder, of course, is that a passive stance in which one achieves a neutral nonaggressive posture, nonthreatening to women, is not a winning stance which must come from a more aggressive issue oriented campaign driving home conservatives truths. But wait! We run such a campaign and the Democrats counter with race. The truth which we must face is that we have not found the solution to this demagoguery.
Others will point to the media and say that it is almost impossible for a Republican to win nationally against the Democrat especially when the media will do everything short of committing murder to support a black president. There is a lot of truth in this but to acknowledge the reality is not to provide the solution. Conservatives want an aggressive campaign such as that conducted by Newt Gingrich in the primaries against the media as well as an aggressive campaign against the Democrats. Romney decided to simply absorb much of the media bias and ignore the issue to death, much as he attempted to deal with the gender gap. I observed at the time that as a conservative I want a crusade against Obama and Romney was running a campaign. In the event, we got neither.
Mechanics, or "architects" if you prefer, such as Karl Rove will tell us whether we failed on the ground or in the air. When Karl Rove ran the ground campaign in Ohio he prevailed. We were assured this time that our ground game in Ohio was far superior to 2004. We had evidence that our ground game in Wisconsin was superior to what the Democrats could muster in three previous statewide elections. Yet we failed. My problem is that I credit Karl Rove with the ability accurately to diagnose the problem but I am wary of his politics. I am satisfied with Rush Limbaugh's politics, but I am dubious of his ability to understand the nuts and bolts of the mechanical apparatus. This is important because ultimately we must accept that this election is so devastating under these circumstances that we must submit to an agonizing reappraisal of our basic politics and not seek rationalizations in the mechanics. Was this election a perfect storm of minor mistakes, bad weather, poor ground game, and media bias that caused America to cruise toward its own destruction or is there simply no denying the obvious, the Republican Party is not succeeding as a messenger for conservatism and conservatism has not crafted a message which works with the public?
Consider how we were handcuffed in this election. We are in a political world in which Obama could blatantly play the race card without any negative consequences. We can review the entire administration of Attorney General Eric holder or we can simply look at Obama's transparent grab for Hispanic votes with amnesty to see how cynically he has governed and campaigned. Normally every political decision, like YING and Yang, has an upside and a downside but there seems to have been no downside to Obama in playing the race card. Where was the blowback among white voters? How can Elizabeth Warren, for example, be exposed for fraudulently advancing herself by claiming American Indian heritage at the expense of honest white job applicants, and suffer no identifiable loss at the polls? Are we as a society destined to be Balkanized by the Democrat party playing sex against sex and race against race to its selfish electoral advantage but to the destruction of the country? Why were we so ineffective in making the world see the world the way we see it? We see the world hurtling toward a fiscal cliff and the destruction of our prosperity. Obama wins the election not by addressing the massive deficit which is turning America into Greece but by handing out birth control pills like Halloween candy. How did it happen that Obama ran the campaign on his terms and not on reality-at least reality as we see it? Why did small ball win?
Is it that we fail to see the world as it really is? Are we wrong and the people who vote their gender, their color, their tribe, their purse, right? No! Our conservative worldview is the right worldview and the leftist worldview is wrong. That is not up for discussion among conservatives. But it is the way of political folly to blame the electorate for one's failure at the polls no matter how easy the temptation. It is easy to say that women who are voting their vaginas are condemning their children to penury but they did not hear us say so or, if they did, they did not heed us. We spent $1 billion and still could not convince them of our view of the world. We are in a game of politics to gain political power and govern according to our world view. When we fail to win, we fail utterly. The real question is why could we not win against a demonstrably failed president with failed policies who ran a racist campaign, a sexist campaign, and played small ball on every issue when we had $1 billion, a squeaky clean candidate, the House of Representatives, the majority of governorships and state legislatures, and the best economic statistics since Franklin Roosevelt?
Before we take refuge in blaming the electorate we should look in the mirror. Before we look for easy answers by blaming Romney, by blaming the media, by blaming tactical decisions such as the selection of Paul Ryan with which we agreed at the time, we should look long and hard into the mirror.
Perhaps we went wrong last cycle in blaming the loss on John McCain. Perhaps there is a dimension to the electorate that we simply do not understand. I posted long and hard at the time that John McCain would lose the election unless he morally destroyed Barack Obama and depicted him to be the Marxist that he was. Many of us in the beginning of this election season questioned whether Romney was correct in attacking Obama is "incompetent" rather than as a radical leftist. When the campaign appeared to be prevailing, I withdrew the criticism. I think we have to thoroughly examine the issue whether we can ever beat a Democrat candidate without personally destroying him. This is not cynical, this is only to bring a gun to a gunfight. So far, in the last two election cycles our campaigns have failed to take Obama on for his radicalism, probably because of fear of his race.We all know a demographic tsunami is about to engulf conservatism. We must decide how to cope with the threat. Do we cope by destroying our opponent the way attempted to destroy Romney or do we cope by pandering to African-Americans, or do we find a Marco Rubio to ingratiate us with Hispanics? Can we run successfully as conservatives by ignoring race as Romney attempted to do?
Before we take refuge in disdain for the electorate and find sour grapes satisfaction by saying they deserve to suffer in the implosion which we believe will come, we should figure out how to compete and win. Remember, it is human nature to rationalize failure by blaming others. Remember also that it is human nature to try to cure failed socialism with more socialism. That is the real reason why Obama was reelected. The electorate does not associate the great recession with government action, rather it associates salvation from the recession with government intervention. The electorate does not believe that government insistence on granting mortgages to risky homebuyers helped precipitate the great recession. They have come to believe that the government should step in to protect mortgagors who are underwater. The electorate wants more socialism to fix failed socialism. We lost the argument.
Unless we fix what is wrong we will lose it again and again until there is nothing left in America to save.
We are running out of time, we are running out of money, and we are running out of white people. This election forces conservatism into a race against the forces of Obamaism to fix itself in time to win the next election before we are bankrupted or engulfed. Either way we lose not just our prosperity but our liberty.
It’s very simple.
Moderate to liberal GOP candidates for President don’t win.
Romney, with his horrible record as Governor and his support for Abortion and the Gay Agenda and with no clear, consistent limited government message was bound to lose.
The Occupiers had their occupation. It would be a real hoot if all taxpayers showed up at the welfare offices across the nation on the same day and applied for food stamps. LOL!
This is a long game now. We’ve conceded the media, academia (including public schools and higher ed) and vast segments of the culture to the left. The same left that spent 40+ years taking over the aforesaid institutions. We need to be patient, and start immediately taking over these institutions at the grassroots.
I was trying to place the feeling and now realize its the same feeling I had when rolling up on tragic traffic accidents with death and dismemberment
really weird feeling , somber , shocked, greivously agitated , a feeling of fear
If you run a candidate who is Liberal/Left against the same - the greater Liberal/Leftist will win.
In the case of yesterday - a Liberal Democrat lost to a Marxist.
Plain and simple.
“We are running out of time . . ..”
No. We have run out of time.
It is a huge loss, no use pretending otherwise.
But no one lies down and dies. That’s the biggest loss. We must fight for our country until we are no longer able. If not nationally, locally. Personally. Within the family. At the city level. Etc. We will only win if we do not give up.
“Weve conceded the media, academia (including public schools and higher ed) and vast segments of the culture to the left.”
That’s right. When even conservatives send their kids to secular public schools and liberal colleges, we can’t be so surprised when they grow up to be liberals.
It also doesn’t help that election day comes right after Halloween instead of after Thanksgiving.
a tea party baby boom?
I am all in.
Are you crazy?
Look at what happened tonite to Mourdouk and Akin in heavily Republican states. We lost taking the Senate because of the “no compromise, go for the jugglar” bs you spout. Romney lost because his campaign blew and because Evangelicals did not rally behind him because he’s flipped across the map. However a too far right candidate is not going to win. Right of center yes but too far right not gonna happen. Rubio or Jeb Bush in 2016. Walsh from Illinois lost, West and Bachmann may lose. See a pattern?
I remember feeling this way under Carter. Depressed about the future of America, disappointed in our people.
Then Reagan happened and my faith in human beings was restored.
I still have that.
All we need is another Reagan.
Heck, it’s been thirty years. We’re due.
When I read “the Republican Party and the future of conservatism in America” I say see ya later, the two are not the same.
This election was rigged. None of the signs were pointing to a whipping like Romney got. Michelle Bachman may lose, for God’s sake. Tommy Tompson lost after Walker won handily in a recall just last year. The turn out was heavy but there was no sign that it was 50-50. I truly believe every close state was rigged. As it became apparent I told my wife “Watch what happens. They’ll give obama some votes. Then they’ll give Romney some votes. And they’ll do this and keep it close as long as they can. Then they’ll give it to obama.”
I was sucked into the Bush 2000 phony vote fiasco in Florida. That was to make us think that every vote counts.
Then I got sucked into voting for mccain because of Palin. They needed her on the ticket to at least make it a little closer. Nobody would have believed a muslim would win that handily over a war hero.
Now I got sucked into thinking “Romney is a good man. Surely enough people will see that.” I sent him $35 two nights ago. Once again, I was fooled. It will never happe again.
The Republican Party replaced the Whigs and it has become the Whigs. The GOP has no principles except to have no principles.
If they can’t beat this America-hating tyrant in these circumstances, the Republican Party needs to have a going out of business sale and shut the doors so a real opposition with some backbone can rise up.
But then, conservatives might have a real vehicle to advance our ideas. The RINO Establishment will never permit that.
I’m not sure if you conveniently attribute the “mistakes” of Romney’s campaign in that long paragraph to others, or simply predicting the lame analyses to appear in the coming days and weeks and to freeze in history books for the foreseeable future. No matter. In my opinion, no GOP candidate could have won. It was Romney vs Obama-Main-Sewer-Media. It was Romney vs the 47%, vs the OJ Jury nation, vs Dancing with the Starlets.