The Real Reason The Republicans Failed To Win The Presidency
There has been an inordinate amount of opinion thrown around over the past two weeks over why the Republicans didn’t win the White House.
Theories range from the Republicans lack of support among minority groups including the African and Latino-American communities; a failure to connect with the middle class; poorly explained campaign policies and an inability to overcome the entitlement mentality of too many who benefit from government hand outs.
All of those are true to some extent but they fail to address the real issue.
The Republicans lost because they committed political suicide before the Presidential Election even began. The Republican primaries were an orgy of division, acrimony and self-defeat and not only by the candidates. Supporters of various candidates took to social media like lynch mobs. They hurled invective and attacks at the other candidates, particularly Mitt Romney, as if he and they were the devil incarnate.
If you were from another planet, you could be excused for not realizing that they were all from the same political party. By the time Mitt Romney was selected as the party’s nominee, he had been so badly damaged; the Democrats didn’t have to go looking for a way to define him as the lesser choice for president; the Republicans and their supporters had already accomplished that.
Once he was nominated, he was scrutinized and criticized for every utterance, no matter how minor or innocuous. Even his own supporters got in on the action including people like respected conservative, David Frum who wrote a very negative piece about Mr. Romney following his widely misinterpreted comment about the 47%.
Republicans ran for cover after that statement became public rather than seize on the idea that no matter how poorly stated, Mr. Romney was correct. A nation’s economy where only half of of its citizens pay income taxes is neither fair nor sustainable It never occurred to Republicans that this might actually be an opportunity rather than a liability to the campaign. Instead they blushed over the comment and virtually apologized for it.
The result was that Mitt Romney trailed badly in the polls and it was clear to everyone that he had no chance to win the election. Regret reigned supreme and very publicly in the Republican camp.
And then came the first debate with President Obama, the real Mitt Romney showed up ready for the game and he won. He stood alone and took on the President and he won. Suddenly, he looked like a President.
The chattering class likes to think that Mr. Romney did well because the President did poorly but in fact it is the other way around. The President did poorly because Mitt Romney did well. He wasn’t ready for this Mitt Romney and it caught him flat-footed to the point where he was all but paralyzed. The Republicans weren’t ready for this Mitt Romney either. They had spent so much time criticizing and undermining him, they had never taken the time to actually get to know him.
Suddenly all those conservatives who had vilified, criticized and undermined Mitt Romney and his campaign were energized. Now they rallied to unite behind their candidate for president. There was less than two months until the election and conservatives, as eager as they now were, showed up for the campaign six months too late.
The Republican Party is a house divided, a party of conflicted ideologies and opinion that has more in common with rabid dogs fighting over bones in the garbage than leading a nation out of confusion. The party is nothing but confusion and a mish mash of policies.
It has no discipline or consistency anymore. It lost sight of who the real opposition was in the last election. Instead of supporting their candidate and focusing on defeating the Democrats, Ron Paul supporters were encouraging each other not to vote. Right-wing religious extremists were exhorting their followers to vote for write-in candidates, including Jesus and in the south, some were being asked to vote for Charles Darwin.
Protest this may be but effective in achieving a more conservative platform it isn’t. It is petulant, unfocused self-indulgence at a time when the country needs committed, practical leadership and discipline.
Where it was the party that ended slavery and brought in civil rights for African-Americans, the Republican Party is now seen as racist and intolerant. The fact that there are many prominent African-American and Latino members of the party has not dispelled that stigma because the party is home to many who voice racist slurs and policies which the leadership of the party does nothing to dispel.
It is seen as misogynist thanks to idiots like Todd Aiken whose absurd and misinformed comments about legitimate rape no more represents mainstream conservatism than CNN is representative of honest and objective journalism. Once again, the party took no stand and permitted him to represent them in the Senate race. Once again, the GOP bowed to political expediency rather than principle and protecting their brand.
The Republicans started with nine candidates for the nomination to be the party’s candidate for President of the United States. They ranged from Libertarian Ron Paul to Tea Party member Michelle Bachmann; from fundamentalist right-wing Christian Rick Santorum to the pragmatic opportunist Newt Gingrich.
Mitt Romney was the closest the party could come up with to represent anything even closely resembling the political centre which is a clear indication of just how out of touch with mainstream American and the party’s own stated principles, the GOP has become.
Canada went through a period where conservatives wandered in the wasteland for awhile following the unpopularity of Brian Mulroney and his two terms as Prime Minister. Out of the ashes of the defeat of the old Progressive Conservative Party rose a western-based party not unlike the original Tea Party movement. It was called The Reform Party of Canada.
Reform was led by Preston Manning, a man for whom I have a considerable respect even if I don’t agree with all of his ideas. He is thoughtful, courteous and disciplined. He was the antithesis of a typical politician who allowed the opposition to define both him and his party. Subsequently Reform was folded into a new party called the Alliance which brought together a broader coalition of conservatives under the leadership of a very decent but gaffe-prone gentleman named Stockwell Day.
It wasn’t until Stephen Harper showed up and brought all conservatives together into the newly formed Conservative Party of Canada that the conservative agenda once again had a base from which to work. Mr. Harper imposed serious discipline on his party and eventually got conservatives to sit up straight and start to fly right. The result was winning the 2006 election and one of the most successful minority governments in Canadian history.
It is now 2012 and Prime Minister Harper has a majority government, has steady if not overly impressive support numbers across the country while the opposition finds itself in the same state of disarray once enjoyed by the conservatives.
As a result, Canada has successfully weathered the economic storm the world has experienced since 2008. This is in part due to the focus and discipline of the Prime Minister himself but also due to the fact that conservative policies simply work.
There is a pragmatic realism to conservative policy, especially with regards to the economy; a pragmatism too often lost on left-leaning ideologies that continue to advance the idea that it is possible to continue to hand out entitlement and over-spend using borrowed money without undermining a nation’s prosperity at some point.
This past election was the Republican’s to lose. They had a presidential opponent whose first term had been a failure; the Benghazi cover-up and polls that showed that more than 60% of Americans believed the country was going in the wrong direction. The polls also showed that a majority of Americans were unsure about Mitt Romney but rather than shore their candidate and capitlaize on the country’s uncertainty about the future, many Republicans chose to voice their uncertainty about their own candidate.
There is hardly a better example of setting yourself up for failure.
The Republican Party failed to win the election because they were only focused on winning, not on the benefits conservative programs could bring to the success of their nation. That focus on winning became so narrow-minded it included a self-destructive war of words over which candidate to choose and as a result, nobody wanted any of the candidates.
For all the billions raised and spent, the Republican primary campaign was amateur hour at its worst. It was self-indulgent, unnecessarily acrimonious and portrayed conservative values as something they are not; extremist.
Conservatives believe in less government, prudent fiscal management, a social safety net for those who legitimately need a helping hand and creating opportunity so that even the poorest among us, regardless of race can hope to achieve their dreams even if it includes being a member of an identifiable minority who wants to become President.
All of that was lost this past year by both the party and by many who label themselves as Republicans and conservatives.
They were too busy behaving like Liberals at a lynching.
© 2012 Maggie’s Bear
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