I’m not planning on doing anything quite so ambitious as sum it all up in one neat package because I don’t want to spend hours at this and frankly that is way too much thinking for me. But, here is some of the commentary I’ve been reading that makes some sense.
First though, ponder this: Romney got over 2 million LESS votes than the old man John McCain and his ‘crazy conservative’ VP pick Sarah Palin got in 2008. Think about how the establishment Republicans looked down their noses at Palin and wanted to be sure to go with a nice guy, a nice establishment middle-of-the-roader like Mitt Romney. McCain had roughly 59 million votes to Romney’s 57 million—what happened to the 2 million? They didn’t go to Obama because he had a turnout that was short by about 8 million from his 2008 voter base. (Obama ended up this time with around 60 million votes).
I liked what Rush Limbaugh said yesterday, here. (In a Nation of children, Santa Claus wins!) Perhaps the biggest shock to most of us is that there are now more people who want the government (taxpayers!) to give them stuff then those who don’t. Four years of expanding food stamps bought some votes! By the way, in my mind this includes many new immigrants, most coming from countries that don’t have our heritage of self-reliance and limited government. They are used to at least demanding stuff where they came from (even if they didn’t get it).
An editorial aside: Krauthammer says Republicans need to look at supporting amnesty, here. I don’t buy it for one minute—they aren’t going to switch to the Republican Party when we become even more like the Democrats! It is the Dems promising stuff that interests them! By the way, Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies has a good answer for Krauthammer, here. Republicans this year LOST more conservative voters than they would have gained by adding a larger percentage of so-called “Hispanics.”
Mark Levin was very good, here (there are still 57 million of us who didn’t want Barack Obama as our President):
MARK LEVIN: We conservatives, we do not accept bipartisanship in the pursuit of tyranny. Period. We will not negotiate the terms of our economic and political servitude. Period. We will not abandon our child to a dark and bleak future. We will not accept a fate that is alien to the legacy we inherited from every single future generation in this country. We will not accept social engineering by politicians and bureaucrats who treat us like lab rats, rather than self-sufficient human beings. There are those in this country who choose tyranny over liberty. They do not speak for us, 57 million of us who voted against this yesterday, and they do not get to dictate to us under our Constitution.
We are the alternative. We will resist. We’re not going to surrender to this. We will not be passive, we will not be compliant in our demise. We’re not good losers, you better believe we’re sore losers! A good loser is a loser forever. Now I hear we’re called ‘purists.’ Conservatives are called purists. The very people who keep nominating moderates, now call us purists the way the left calls us purists. Yeah, things like liberty, and property rights, individual sovereignty, and the Constitution, and capitalism. We’re purists now. And we have to hear this crap from conservatives, or pseudo-conservatives, Republicans.
And, here is one more, and perhaps the best comment I’ve seen so far. It’s from Daniel Greenfield* writing at Frontpage magazine (hat tip: Judy). The Tea Party was right and Mitt was wrong; or more accurately Mitt’s advisors (I’m pointing at you Benjamin Ginsberg) were wrong!
In this election the Republican Party ran two wholly inoffensive blue state Republicans on a platform of jobs at a time when the economy was everyone’s chief concern and the incumbent had absolutely failed to fix the economy. And they lost.
The Monday — or Wednesday — morning quarterbacks will have a fine time debating what Mitt Romney should have done differently. The red Republicans will say that he should have been more aggressive and should have hit Obama on Benghazi. The blue Republicans will blame a lack of outreach to Latinos. Some will blame Sandy, others will blame Christie and many will point to voter fraud. And they will all have a point, but the makings of this defeat did not happen in the last two weeks; they happened in the last two years.
Mitt Romney won the primaries because he was electable. But, as it turned out, he really wasn’t electable after all. Not when the chief criteria of electability is having no opinion, no point of view and no reason to run for office except to win. Not when the chief criteria of being a Republican presidential nominee is being able to convince people that you’re hardly a Republican at all.
The Tea Party started the fire and the Republican establishment put it out! Remember Tampa where they also threw out the Libertarians.
The Republican comeback did not begin with innocuous candidates; it began with angry protesters in costumes and Gadsden flags marching outside ObamaCare town halls. The 2010 midterm election triumphs were not the work of a timorous establishment, but of a vigorous grassroots opposition. And once the Tea Party movement started the fire, the Republican establishment acted like the Tea Party had sabotaged their comeback and cut the ties with their own grassroots movement. Separated, the Republican grassroots and the Republican Party both withered on the vine.
This (next point) happens in Maryland all the time—classic case was the last Ehrlich campaign for governor. With their ham-handed handling of the 2010 Republican primary and in their desire to be in the political middle, the Ehrlichians went out of their way to kill off grassroots activists. What makes the Republicans think they can win without their conservative activists? How many of the squishy middle goes out door-knocking and sign-waving?
When the Republican Party sold out the Tea Party, it sold out its soul, and the only driving energy that it had. And there was nothing to replace it with. The Republican Party stopped being the opposition and became a position that it was willing to reposition to get closer to the center. Mitt Romney embodied that willingness to say anything to win and it is exactly that willingness to say anything to win that the public distrusts.
The elevation of Mitt Romney was the triumph of inoffensiveness. Romney ran an aggressive campaign, but it was a mechanical exercise, a smooth assault by trained professionals paid to spin talking points in dangerous directions. But, what if the voters really wanted a certain amount of offensiveness? [This voter wanted to see the offense on the Benghazi cover-up—ed]
Greenfield continued (sorry to quote so much but it’s important)—relearn the lessons of the Tea Party movement!
The establishment had its chance with Mitt Romney. The former Massachusetts governor was everything that they could possibly want. Moderate, bipartisan and fairly liberal. With his business background, he could make a perfect case for being able to turn the economy around. They had their perfect candidate and their perfect storm and they blew it.
The Republican Party is not going to win elections by being inoffensive. It is not going to win elections by going so far to the center that it no longer stands for anything. It is not going to win elections by throwing away all the reasons that people might have to vote for it. It is not going to win elections by constantly trying to accommodate what it thinks independent voters want, instead of cultivating and growing its base, and using them as the nucleus for an opposition that will change the minds of those independent voters.
The Republican Party has tried playing Mr. Nice Guy. It may be time to get back to being an opposition movement. And the way to do that is by relearning the lessons of the Tea Party movement. The Democratic Party began winning when it embraced the left, instead of running away from it. If the Republican Party wants to win, then it has to embrace the right and learn to get angry again.
As a good soldier, I did my duty and campaigned for Romney, but no more…
* I’ve written about Greenfield on these pages before. As an anti-Islamist writer he brought the wrath of the Southern Poverty Law Center down on his head (and on his cat’s head) in a very funny post, here.
Update: I forgot to report that Obama won the Catholic vote, so much for Obama’s war on religion.