The Hangover

On The GOP’s Wednesday Morning Headache

by Jaret Glenn

Tuesday night’s embarrassing Romney loss to a weak incumbent left Republicans with a headache on Wednesday morning.  There was no shortage of name-calling and finger pointing as the blame game was in full effect all Wednesday long.

Ohio advertiser Nick Everhart blamed the Romney campaign’s “poor media buying”.  That sounds a bit self-serving, but okay.  I’ll bite.

Former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour blamed Hurricane Sandy, saying it “broke Romney’s momentum”.  This seems a bit of a stretch, but alright.

As usual, the most outlandish claims were made by Fox News commentators.  Fox host Jamie Colby and election attorney Doug Burns pointed out that one polling station outside of Philadelphia had one member of the New Black Panther Party stationed outside.  A few more were spotted at polling stations outside of Cleveland.  This led Burns to ask, “Did that have an impact on the election?”  I doubt it, but nice try.

MSNBC’s in-house, fake conservative Joe Scarborough came closest to hitting the mark on Morning Joe when he said “In many ways the country is becoming more libertarian.  They’re saying…stay out of my wallet.  Stay out of my bedroom.”  Yahtzee!

Scarborough’s analysis, though perhaps an oversimplification, may be spot on—wrong candidate with the wrong message.  Romney was never a popular candidate during the Republican primaries.  Even establishment Republicans recognized him as awkward and out of touch, and those comments came from rich, old, white guys.

Nowhere was this more evident than at the GOP primary debate at the University of South Florida in Tampa.  The crowd outside contained nearly one thousand Ron Paul supporters, twenty-five Rick Santorum Supporters, a half dozen Gingrich supporters and one paid Romney supporter driving a truck with a large campaign sign in the bed.    At his political rallies, Romney campaign staff passed out signs they’d made to the crowd to provide the illusion of grassroots support.  After the rally, campaign staffers were so sure that nobody at the next stop would be enthusiastic enough about Romney to spend five minutes painting a sign that the signs were gathered for reuse.  Even while drastically outspending all other candidates and enjoying the “frontrunner” label from the media, Romney still had to resort to cheating to win the nomination–his supporters running state conventions during the primaries routinely engaged in last-minute rule changes, throwing out entire precincts of votes, cancelling caucuses, switching open vote counts to backrooms with locked doors, and countless other acts of election fraud to ensure his nomination.  Prior to the convention, there were no Romney bumper stickers on cars or Romney yard signs posted.  It was only after Reince Preibus handed him the nomination that the “anybody but Obama” crowd settled for Romney.

Romney’s lack of support cannot be attributed entirely to his personality (or lack thereof) however.  During the worst recession since the Great Depression, Romney failed to deliver a clear plan for economic recovery.  While blaming President Obama for a “failure to lead”, Romney sat on the sideline amidst many opportunities to stick his neck out and take an early stance.  The few parts of his platform he did announce were nearly identical to those of the unpopular incumbent (whose record was nearly identical to his unpopular predecessor’s).  Consider the following unpopular positions:

  • Bailouts
  • Federal Reserve secrecy
  • The Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive war to prevent war
  • Going to war without a formal declaration from Congress
  • Torture
  • Indefinite detention without trial
  • A secret assassination list
  • Warrantless spying on American citizens
  • TSA 4th amendment violations

Now consider that, with the possible exception of the secret assassination list, these were George W. Bush’s policies that Obama won by promising to replace.  Remember that he beat John McCain, who promised to perpetuate these policies.  Thus Romney essentially doubled-down on every item on that list of losing platform positions, when separating himself from them may have won him the election.

It’s no use crying over spilt milk, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t valuable lessons to be learned from this defeat.  I offer the following suggestions to the GOP, to save the sinking ship:

  • GOP leadership should not select the candidate for the party.  Instead, they should oversee fair elections and let the membership choose the party’s candidate.  This is the best way to ensure actual support for the candidate in the general election.
  • Drop the militaristic, neoconservative foreign policy.  Americans are war-weary and don’t understand why we should suffer such drastic cuts at home while increasing our overseas belligerence toward countries that pose no threat to our national security and most Americans couldn’t point to on a map.  Besides, the peace candidate wins nearly every time.
  • Cut all foreign aid.  It’s taking money from poor people in a rich country, to give to rich people in a poor country.  It’s a losing argument to convince Americans they should suffer austerity measures while giving away borrowed money to other countries.
  • Stand up to the Fed.  Many of the people have figured out what “quantitative easing” is—printing money.  Further, they realize that it makes everything more expensive, yet provides no benefit to them.

If these positions sound familiar, it’s because most of them were voted into the Republican Party platform at the recent convention in Tampa.  Republicans have spoken on what kind of candidate and party they want.  Will the establishment listen, or will 2016 bring The Hangover II?

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