If you think 2012 was wild, try 1936. That’s the closet mirror to Barack Obama’s re-election. FDR, struggling with a bombed-out economy under his watch (yet the public still blames on his predecessor), runs on a platform of class warfare and attacking business against a business candidate, who runs on a strictly economic platform. The returns come in, and FDR’s identity politics win the day. Sound familiar? We don’t have new elections, it seems we re-run former ones. FDR took advantage of changing demographics through immigration, as well as a candidacy that appealed to subsets of voters. The numbers added up for FDR, much like it did for Obama yesterday.
What didn’t add up was the horrible reporting by almost every conservative media outlet available. This is unforgivable. Whether it was Dick Morris or Michael Barone improbably predicting a 300-plus electoral vote win for Romney, or it was the relentless lack of reality that infected all their reporting across the entire spectrum. Conservative media effectively ran the campaign into the ground. It gave its readers almost no indication of what was happening nationally with voters or actual issues that mattered. I do know a guy in a Black Panther jacket was standing outside a precinct. Whatever plus conservative media added to the movement has disappeared completely, lost in the buzzword “epistemic closure” to go along with a profit motive that is more interested in publicity and site hits than actually informing the electorate. The mainstream media has its issues, believe me, I know as a part of it. But the massive failure of conservative media is a cause of concern. We need more Wall Street Journals and a lot less Andrew Breitbarts. It’s time conservatives dumped the cults of personality like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and the like and start demanding better and more informative outlets for their news. Conservatives should also take note how these outlets sound to independents and moderates, ones they need to attract to vote.
Romney was a good candidate who never had a chance once he left the primary. To let two goons like Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich savage him from his left was a death knell. It shaped the entirety of his campaign. All Obama had to do was replay footage of Gingrich and Santorum from primary debates, throw in some Bain Capital heartless out-sourcing, or the ultimate character attack, accusing your opponent of killing a woman with cancer, and it was sealed. Worst of all, Santorum and Gingrich had no serious presidential aspirations. They weren’t even registered in all the states they ran in during the primary. Instead – see if this sounds familiar – looking for instant publicity and a payout. Gingrich is now the go-to conservative of Piers Morgan, while Rick Santorum (a guy who lost his last senatorial campaign by nearly 30-percent) is now the chosen man for all things social conservative. What good did that do Romney or the economy? They savaged him relentlessly, and as a recent post at The Atlantic stated, the mud that gets on you earliest is the hardest to wash off. It cost the Republicans the election.
The other question – Romney had baggage, sure, but where were the other candidates? Where was Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Haley Scott or Bobby Jindal? The Republicans are loaded with smart, young and talented candidates, who were all scared away by the incumbent. Gutless.
A bigger concern than the demographic changes to the electorate is how tone-deaf Republicans have been to the issues of the moment. Income mobility and inequality is huge, one Obama had answers for, or at least pretended to have an answer for. Conservatives have nothing. There are distinct, smart, and winning answers to those two issues, yet Republicans ran away from any suggestion that they were even issues to begin with in some kind of mad Ayn Randian obsessive objectivist belief that Darwinism works best. Do Republicans actually believe that? Not in the least, but given the lack of acknowledgment of the issues they might as well have. Trying to get these issues addressed is nearly impossible, almost every candidate grabs their ears and begins screaming like a 4-year-old. The problem is these issues matter to the electorate, which means they should matter to Republicans more than they currently do.
Another example is the skyrocketing tuition and student loan default rate. Conservatives should be railing against universities and public entities indebting students, instead they are silent. One southern lawmaker called complaints over the cost of college whining, I’m sure she did wonderful yesterday. Why aren’t conservatives pointing out the administrative costs at college, the bad public financing model or encourage privatization, or using market forces to cure the debt-bomb?
Ohio came down to a razor-thin edge, one Romney lost. Want to know why? Union turnout and blue-collar workers, once the bastion of George W. Bush. John Kasich’s Senate Bill 5 led to union organization in the state not seen since the 30s, which left them a model and platform to use in order to promote Obama this year, after the recall vote. It worked wonders and it proved the difference in Ohio, where firemen and policemen are still smarting over nearly having their collective bargaining rights stripped.
There’s a lot more to go over, but not here. The good news is this – Obama needs to come to the middle. His second term will be a disaster unless he finds a way to work with Congressional Republicans like Clinton did. This may mean giving up a tax-hike to millionaires, but the trade-offs could be debt reduction, market-based reform to Obamacare (take the stink off the pig a little bit), or other reforms. Conservatives were able to reform welfare, capital gains, regulation and other means with a Democrat in the White House, it could happen again.