“An exit poll conducted by CNN asked, ‘What is the most important candidate quality to your vote?’ Among the four choices were, ‘Strong Leader,’ ‘Shares Your Values,’ ‘Has A Vision for the Future,’ and ‘Cares about People.’ Romney won the first three by more than 54%. But he lost ‘Cares About People’ by 81-18%. That says it all.”
“Behind the failures of Republican campaigns lies an attitude that is administrative rather than combative. It focuses on policies rather than politics. It is more comfortable with budgets and pie charts than with the flesh and blood victims of their opponents’ policies. When Republicans do mention victims they are frequently small business owners and other ‘job creators’ – people who in the eyes of most Americans are rich.
“To counter the Democrat attacks on them as defenders of the comfortable and afflicters of the weak, Republicans really have only one answer: This is a misunderstanding. Look at the facts. We’re not that bad. On the infrequent occasions when they actually take the battle to their accusers, Republicans will say: That’s divisive. It’s class warfare.
“Even if voters were able to ‘look at the facts,’ these are not exactly inspiring responses. They are defensive, and they are whiny, and also complicated. Of course elections are divisive – that is their nature. One side gets to win and the other side loses. But even more troublesome is the fact that responses like this require additional information and lengthy explanations to make sense. Appeals to reason are buried in the raucous noise that is electoral politics. Sorting out the truth would be a daunting task, even if voters were left alone to make up their minds.”
“The only way to confront the emotional campaign that Democrats wage in every election is through an equally emotional campaign that puts the aggressors on the defensive; that attacks them in the same moral language, identifying them as the bad guys, the oppressors of women, children, minorities and the middle class, that takes away from them the moral high ground which they now occupy. You can’t confront an emotionally based moral argument with an intellectual analysis. Yet this is basically and almost exclusively what Republicans do.”
“Republicans seem to think the way to inspire hope is by offering voters practical solutions, such as Paul Ryan’s plan to balance the budget. Paul Ryan is a smart conservative and the Ryan Plan is probably a good one. But with control only of the House, Republicans had no chance of implementing it when they voted on it. Worse, in the real world of political combat, facing an unscrupulous opposition, a plan offered by a party with no means of implementing it is a self-inflicted wound. You can’t put the plan into effect to show that it works, and no one besides policy wonks is going to even begin to understand it. All the plan does is provide the spinners with multiple targets to shoot at – something they will do by distorting the specifics and ignoring the plan itself. For virtually all voters, the plan will be so complicated and its details so obscure that it will remain invisible. Only those who already trust its designers will be persuaded that this is a reason to vote for them.”
“The way for Republicans to show they care about minorities is to defend them against their oppressors and exploiters, which in every major inner city in America without exception are Democrats. Democrats run the welfare and public education systems; they have created the policies that ruin the lives of the recipients of their handouts. It’s time that Republicans started to hold Democrats to account; to put them on the defensive and take away the moral high ground, which they now occupy illegitimately. Government welfare is not just wasteful; it is destructive. The public school system in America’s inner cities is not merely ineffective; it is racist and criminal.”
From the outrages he let Barack Obama get away with to the stunning ineptitude of his campaign team, Mitt Romney holds plenty of blame for last week’s dispiriting presidential election. But he’s not the only one, and before we do something stupid like surrender on immigration in a shortsighted bid to woo Hispanics, the Right needs to have a little chat about another key voting bloc that should have been far easier to hold…but wasn’t, for reasons conservatives seem unwilling to discuss.
The single most shocking detail about the results was the pitiful Republican turnout, with Romney receiving 3 million fewer GOP votes than John McCain and 5 million fewer than George W. Bush — a difference that could have overcome Tuesday’s 3-million-person difference in the popular vote or made up the 333,000 additional votes necessary for an Electoral College win.
Yes, Romney’s conservatism was imperfect. But so was Bush’s. And McCain? He was so liberal that, to keep him away from the nomination and ensure a conservative made it on the ballot, the punditocracy told us we had to rally around…Mitt Romney.
So how could Romney — who, for all his flaws, took most of the right positions, had an appealing background, and didn’t share Bush or McCain’s zeal for amnesty — possibly be less palatable than either of his moderate predecessors? Especially while trying to unseat someone widely considered to be the worst, most left-wing president in US history?
A big part of the answer is because somewhere between GOP presidential primaries, half the Right flip-flopped on Romney, recasting their onetime conservative alternative as the new RINO boogeyman we needed an alternative from, with scores of pundits, activists, and bloggers ranting that an amorphous party “establishment” was trying to force Romney on the base. Yes, politics is a tough business and primaries are the place for aggressively vetting our candidates, but far too many of our own crossed the line from “Romney is weak in area x” to “Romney is our enemy.”
Tea Party Nation head Judson Phillips and Family Research Council president Tony Perkins said they’d focus on congressional races because Romney wasn’t worth their members’ excitement. Sen. Rick Santorum suggested Romney might not be different enough from Obama to bother changing presidents. Talk radio host Mark Levin excoriated Romney daily, calling him a corporatist of questionable character who couldn’t be supported in the primary without compromising all of one’s principles. Blogger Dan Riehl considered organizing conservatives to oppose Romney in the general election. Free Republic banned all Romney supporters as “enemies of the Constitution.” Blogger John Hawkins warned that supporting Romney would require conservatives to “sell our souls.” RedState.com waged an all-out war against Romney and his sympathizers, the most hysterical examples of which being Erick Erickson’s claim that nominating the bad Mormon would kill conservatism and Thomas Crown’s accusation that National Review “alienated” itself from the conservative movement by preferring Romney to the alternatives. Conservative stalwarts like Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan got torn apart as phonies in popular comment sections for backing Romney. And last month, Personhood USA used an unfair spin on Romney’s words as evidence that he was “insisting on maintaining the status quo of abortion on demand.”
Fast-forward to Election Day, and 5 million Republican voters decide to stay home.
Gee, who could have guessed? (I mean, besides me.)
Again, we shouldn’t completely absolve Romney of responsibility. As the candidate, it was his job to assure the base he could walk the walk. Nor should Romney’s shortcomings have gone ignored or unchallenged during the primary.
But with so many influential conservative voices doing everything they could to convince their audiences that Romney was just Diet Obama and that he posed an existential threat to their very philosophy, is it any wonder that so many of them decided not to vote? How is any post-primary coalescing supposed to fully heal divisions that deep? How are Republican candidates supposed to endure two-front wars against Democrats and their own base?
Rather than protect the integrity of the Republican ticket, Levin, Erickson, Perkins, and company served as useful idiots for the Left, dividing conservatives enough for a weak incumbent with indefensible ideas and hated policies to keep power for another four years. And now we’re all going to suffer for it.
It goes without saying that for 2016, we’ll need to find a candidate with bolder instincts, a deeper affinity for conservatism, and greater skill in articulating it. But by the time his own failings and impurities come to light, hopefully Obama’s second term will have taught our Purity Police that a little perspective can make a world of difference.
There are also many intangibles a pro-life president brings to the table. Just imagine a president whose Justice Department allows states to defund Planned Parenthood without suing, for instance?But as to the most consequential duty of our next president, choosing 2-3 Supreme Court justices, Romney has already started down the path he promised. In August 2011 Romney formed a Judicial Advisory Committee, with two of the best pro-life minds agreeing to serve as chairpersons: Judge Robert Bork and Professor Mary Ann Glendon, former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See.As for lingering pro-life complaints against Romney, Glendon was part of a group of pro-life leaders from Massachusetts, which also included Kris Mineau, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Family Institute, and Ray Ruddy, President of the Gerard Health Foundation (which biannually awards Life Prizes), who corrected the record in a statement in January, posted on LifeNews.com:
Governor Romney vetoed bills to provide access to the so-called “morning-after pill,” which is an abortifacient, as well as a bill providing for expansive, embryo-destroying stem cell research. He vetoed the latter bill in 2005 because he could not “in good conscience allow this bill to become law.”
We do not agree with the claims that Gov. Romney is responsible for tax payer funded abortion under the Massachusetts health care system. That blame lies solely on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court who ruled in 1981 that the Massachusetts Constitution required payment for abortions for Medicaid-eligible women. In 1997, the Court reaffirmed its position that a state-subsidized plan must offer “medically necessary abortions.”
In 2006, under Governor Romney’s leadership, Massachusetts’ public schools began to offer a classroom program on abstinence from the faith-based Boston group Healthy Futures to middle school students. Promoting the program, Governor Romney stated, “I’ve never had anyone complain to me that their kids are not learning enough about sex in school. However, a number of people have asked me why it is that we do not speak more about abstinence as a safe and preventative health practice.”
We are aware of the 1994 comments of Senate candidate Romney, which have been the subject of much recent discussion. While they are, taken by themselves, obviously worrisome to social conservatives including ourselves, they do not dovetail with the actions of Governor Romney from 2003 until now – and those actions have positively and demonstrably impacted the social climate of Massachusetts.
Since well before 2003, we have been laboring in the trenches of Massachusetts, fighting for the family values you and we share. It is difficult work indeed – not for the faint of heart. In this challenging environment, Governor Romney has proven that he shares our values, as well as our determination to protect them.
I agree with the sentiments express by Eric Scheidler, who wrote in an email (as a private citizen and not as Executive Director of Pro-Life Action League):
Now that Santorum is out, it’s this man’s opinion we all need to cowboy up and help Romney beat Obama.
And that starts, now, with avoiding all disparaging remarks about “holding one’s nose” and the like, which I’ve been seeing on Facebook these last few hours. From now on, I’m nothing but thrilled I’ve got a good man to rally behind, and I’ll leave it to Team Obama to make Romney look like anything less.
- Romney & Santorum will probably be roughly equal on defense, abortion, taxes, marriage, judges, and immigration.
- Romney will probably be somewhat better on spending/entitlements, though whether he’ll be aggressive enough remains questionable.
- Santorum is right that he’d campaign much more effectively against ObamaCare (though I trust both to repeal it). ObamaCare and RomneyCare can be sufficiently distinguished to neutralize the issue for Mitt, but Romney himself needs to do it – and so far, he hasn’t.
- Both candidates are gaffe-prone & have trouble refuting false narratives, though I’m unsure which will be a bigger liability: “Santorum as theocrat” or “Romney as corporate fatcat.”
My latest Live Action post:
Over the weekend, Susan Saulny had a report in the New York Times on “centrist women” who are turning against the Republican Party, and I must say, I’m a little disappointed. Not that the article’s a hatchet job, mind you—that’s what I’ve come to expect from the Times. No, I’m disappointed that it’s such a shoddy attempt; I’ve come to expect much more effort and creativity from America’s premiere propagandists.
From a “randomly generated list of voters,” Saulny interviews a handful of self-described moderate or Republican women who claim that the birth control debate currently raging in the media has destroyed whatever intention they have of voting for the GOP candidate in November:
- Mary Russell, retired teacher, “evangelical Christian and ‘old school’ Republican who supported Mitt Romney “just two weeks ago” but is now considering Barack Obama: “We all agreed that this seemed like a throwback to 40 years ago. I didn’t realize I had a strong viewpoint on this until these conversations. If they’re going to decide on women’s reproductive issues, I’m not going to vote for any of them. Women’s reproduction is our own business.”
- Fran Kelly, retired public school worker who voted for John McCain in 2008: “Everybody is so busy telling us how we should act in the bedroom, they’re letting the country fall through the cracks. They’re nothing but hatemongers trying to control everyone, saying, ‘Live as I live.’ If Republicans would stop all this ridiculous talk about contraception, I’d consider voting in November.”
Read the rest at Live Action.