mitt_romney_2

A Visionless Election

Let me begin by saying that I have tremendous respect for Mitt Romney and what he has accomplished in his personal life.  However, this election was a competition between the two most pathetically small-minded presidential candidates in history.  Neither side laid out a vision for where they want to take this country.  Romney promised 12 million new jobs and a restored economy.  That’s a campaign promise, not a vision.  And the details of his plan to get the economy growing again were about as informative as the nutrition label on a bottle of water.  Aside from occasional rhetoric about the American Dream, all we ever got from Romney was “Believe in America,” which is a bumper sticker at best. Paul Ryan is a Republican visionary, whether you agree with his vision or not.  However, while Romney endorsed Ryan’s “Roadmap for America,” he didn’t run on it and missed the opportunity to at least adopt someone else’s vision if he could not come up with his own.

President Obama had many things going for him four years ago, but it was his vision for a post-partisan America with a renewed faith in the institution of government that the electorate bought into and which propelled him to securing the nomination and crushing John McCain.  This time around the president didn’t even propose an agenda for the next four years much less a vision.  Obama just became the first president to win re-election with absolutely no platform (not to mention his abysmal record), which says a lot about Romney’s campaign.

It should not be surprising that Americans were hesitant about voting for the GOP on Tuesday night.  The Republican leader in the Senate Mitch McConnell infamously declared that his primary job was preventing Obama’s re-election, rather than, say, helping America.  The House Republicans have a capable leader in John Boehner, but the caucus is deeply divided between Tea Party members and non-Tea Party members which makes it exceedingly difficult to accomplish anything.  And the Republican presidential candidate promised to be America’s administrator without necessarily making the case that he would be the best leader for our nation.  When Paul Ryan joined the ticket the excitement he produced was undeniable, not just because he brought enthusiasm and conservatism to the ticket, but because he possessed a vision we could see and was a leader we could follow.

The GOP did field some groundbreaking candidates on the Congressional level, but in the end none prevailed.  Allen West, a prominent black Republican in the crucial state of Florida, was voted out of office.  Mia Love ran for Congress in Utah, and had she won, she would have become the first black female Mormon in Congress.  Richard Tisei in Massachusetts came within a point of becoming the first openly gay Republican to run and win.  A Tisei victory also would have demonstrated that Republicans can prevail in deep blue states, and that Scott Brown was not a fluke.  In order for Republicans to win nationally, they need to re-shape the party and grow the platform to recognize the changes in voter preferences and the demographics of the new electorate.

There are many things Romney could have done differently that would have helped him win Tuesday night.  Choosing Marco Rubio as his running mate would have picked up support in the Latino community and locked down Florida.  The gender gap could have been closed if Romney was pro-choice (although he never would have won the nomination had he still been on that side of the issue).  If Romney had avoided even half of his gaffes he would have been more relatable for average Americans and performed better in blue-collar states like Ohio and Pennsylvania.  But America did not need a Romney win; America needed a leader, someone who can see beyond the constraints of the past to the promise of the future and make that future our reality.  This nation’s problems are too great for narrow victories and small-minded political games.  Unfortunately, that’s all we got from either side in this election cycle.

Garrett Jacobs | University of North Carolina | @GarrettMJacobs

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13 Responses

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  1. Chelle
    Nov 14, 2012 - 05:01 PM

    The people who are responding negativly to Garrett are implying that the Republicans aren’t changing their stances to appeal to voters.

    Please, the Republicans have relied on the religous right for a couple of decades now. Hence why you get all the “no government interferance in healthcare unless its a woman’s vagina!”

    Please. A Republican president signed the agreement that gave funding to Planned Parenthood.

    Stop pretending you’ll be violating some 100 year order if you revisit some policies.

    Reply
  2. Jim Prokop
    Nov 14, 2012 - 07:34 AM

    Chelle: Again, spot on! They don’t seem to mind anything that is free as long as it accrues to them and their tribe. I know a lady who hates government,Obama,Obama-Care,all Democrats,unions and a few other things depending on her mood. But, guess what, she is so happy to get on Tr-Care (Military civilian insurance at like $50.00/month) next year she almost pees her pants every-time she gloats about it. She was never even near a combat zone…served a hitch and time in the reserves. She claims the VA and the military are just one step below God. Go figure. Conservatives as now constituted.

    Reply
  3. Jim Prokop
    Nov 13, 2012 - 06:22 PM

    I plan to keep my eyes wide open for all the socialism. Come 2016 I plan to check how many private corporations have been nationalized and how many new income streams have been opened from the rich to the poor. In fact, I intend to look at how many “rich” folks have lost all their riches and have to live like normal people.I am willing to put $1000.00 on the table that none of these come to fruition. And, don’t give me the old Obama-Care crap.This will result in more Americans being insured and not facing bankruptcy with a “small” tax on AGI incomes above $250.000.00. This just doesn’t rise to the level of socialism,in the mind of most rational people,UNLESS you consider all taxation, for anything other than defense, to be socialism by definition. If you do, you should maybe consider yourself an anarchist rather than a capitalist.

    Reply
    • Chelle
      Nov 13, 2012 - 08:20 PM

      Its amazing that people complain about federal social programs and how they need to be cut. And then Obama managed to do that with Obamacare and they freak out about that.

      Not to meantion Obamacare was a Republican idea first.

      Then again, I’ve also noticed the people complaining most about socialism don’t seem to mind all the roads they get to drive on.

      Reply
  4. Chelle
    Nov 12, 2012 - 06:08 PM

    Its actually two elections now but why bother counting?

    Its kind of sad that Garrett wrote a thoughtful piece on not alienating the majority the country and everyone is all “OMG, be quiet!”

    Obama didn’t just get the liberal vote – he got the moderate too. There have also been some high ranking Republicans commenting on how the party is going more and more right.

    Its not about being something you’re not – its about going back what you were. A party that really did believe in limited government (in terms of reproductive health and people’s private lives) and spending stragetically – not cutting spending on all social programs and giving it the already massive military budget.

    In the good old days, a Republican wasn’t afraid to tax coporations and raise taxes on the wealthy. Now you guys are selling out too coporations and the extremely religious.

    The thing is – in the end, we only get one vote each. And coporations can’t even vote!

    So yea, keep going the way you’re going if you want to keep having these close elections on the popular vote but blown out of the water in the electral vote.

    Again, its kind of sad. Only Garrett is saying is the GOP should learn how to make their stances appeal to the new majority. If you guys can’t do that, then why bother trying to get a position thats suppose to govern everyone?

    Reply
    • Sean L
      Nov 13, 2012 - 04:03 AM

      How do you answer to the reports that in many districts of the big cities of swing states, Obama won 100% of the vote? Not 99.8%, not 99.9%, 100%. That is not possible, or is at least so unlikely as to make several laws of probability go cry in a corner. And how about places in Pennsylvania and Ohio and Florida, where more people voted than were registered.

      It’s typical that you would try to shame the people on this site by distorting what has been said. The things that people disagree with on this article is the need to radically change positions, nobody is disagreeing that Republicans need to focus more on minorities.

      And Obama did not get the moderate vote as well. 9 million fewer people voted for him than in 2008, marking the first time a president has been reelected by a narrower margin than when he was first elected, whereas only about 1.5 million fewer people voted for Romney than McCain. Statistics from the NYT and other left-of-center/leftist groups show that the country has tracked back right since 2008, in some cases further right than they were before 2008, so your theory that the country has a new liberal majority is wrong. The Republicans will need to recognize the growth of the minority groups, and focus more on articulating their positions in ways that people can understand them.

      And actually, it is the conservatives who want smaller government, not the establishment Republicans. Most conservatives aren’t interested in things like outlawing birth control, they don’t want groups that identify with religious groups that don’t support birth control for moral reasons to be forced to violate those doctrines. And somebody on this site, I believe it was Angela, wrote an excellent article that opposed Obamacare from a small-government perspective. To define the entire movement by a couple of nuts like Akin who were rightly defeated would be as absurd as a conservative claiming that all liberals supported bestiality after a liberal candidate came out in support of it. Do some? Sure, it takes all sorts, but those are fringe elements of both sides that we all cringe at and try to ignore.

      And please Chelle, tell me who suggested that every dollar cut from social programs should go to the military. A link to a transcript, please, I would like to see it with my own eyes.

      Reply
      • Chelle
        Nov 13, 2012 - 05:39 AM

        Lets work backwards.

        “tell me who suggested that every dollar cut from social programs should go to the military” Please show me where I said every dollar cut from social program goes to the military.

        And you’re answer – Romney. Romney was fine with cutting spending to social programs and his budget included funds added to the military budget.

        http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/oct/05/barack-obama/obama-says-romney-would-spend-2-trilllion-military/

        “they don’t want groups that identify with religious groups that don’t support birth control for moral reasons to be forced to violate those doctrines.”

        And they completely misunderstood that section of Obamacare and used it as a strawman.

        Unless you’re suggesting that all companies should be able to dicate how their employees spend their money.

        “it is the conservatives who want smaller government, not the establishment Republicans”

        What establishment Republicans are we talking about here? Because there are shit ton of fiscally conservative, socially liberal Republicans. At least there were until the party pushed them out.

        Anyway, establisment Republicans are very much in favor of limited government and having it be hands off the free market. Some would call it….Reaganomics.

        And you’ll note I said Republicans should go back to that.

        “Sure, it takes all sorts, but those are fringe elements of both sides that we all cringe at and try to ignore.”

        Paul Ryan wrote a bill with Todd Akin trying to redefine the word rape. These aren’t fringe elements – that’s the fucking VP.

        Romney refused to withdraw support from Roger Rivard, who famously claimed that “some girls rape easily” in regards to the rape of a 14 year old in her band room.

        “And Obama did not get the moderate vote as well.”

        He did. Stat’s don’t lie – 56% of voters who consider themselves moderate voted for Obama. http://www.cnn.com/election/2012/results/race/president?hpt=hp_inthenews#exit-polls

        “so your theory that the country has a new liberal majority is wrong”

        Please tell me where I said “new liberal majority.”

        “The Republicans will need to recognize the growth of the minority groups, and focus more on articulating their positions in ways that people can understand them. ”

        Yes, that’s what I said. I see can see why you spent time on a paragraph that agreed with both me and Garrett.

        “It’s typical that you would try to shame the people on this site by distorting what has been said.”

        I shamed people for jumping down Garrett’s throat because he dared to think the party could stand improvement. I forgot, the writers here are just suppose to repeat garble they hear from FoxNews – there’s to be no reflection, espcially in light of defeat.

        And considering you just repeated what he said in that last paragraph, I’m not sure what your issue is.

        “The things that people disagree with on this article is the need to radically change positions, nobody is disagreeing that Republicans need to focus more on minorities.”

        You may want to change your party’s position on abortion, since a lot of people tribute that to why women voted for Obama.

        And if its going over your head that your party’s stance on social issues is whats chasing off a lot of the minority vote, than I don’t know what to tell you. (And I’m talking immgrantion in this case. There’s also the attitude that if you’re on welfare, you’re a mooch on society. May want to change that tone.

        “How do you answer to the reports that in many districts of the big cities of swing states, Obama won 100% of the vote?”

        The same way you answer to reports of many districts of states voting for Romney going 100%. How come no one ever comments on that by the way?

        “And how about places in Pennsylvania and Ohio and Florida, where more people voted than were registered.”

        Have you ever worked at an election poll? I did in one of the swing states. A lot of people come in who are not registrated. We check them in the computer system, see that they’re an invalid voter and send them over to an election officer. The election officer verifies that they are a citizen and can legally vote and then they fill out a provisional ballot. That provisional ballot isn’t cast until the voter is full vetted – which won’t be until weeks after the results are called.

        And that’s how you get more voters than those registrated. Because a lot of people think they’re registrated or that they can do it day of. And that applies across all political parties, races and genders – people are stupid.

        On top of the fact that its hard to cheat the system unless the entire polling place was on one party’s side. (Which according to your stats is possible – at least one person working the polling place would the opposite party and would see if the other workers were cheating things.) The Republicans and Democrats also send poll watchers to the sites to make sure only the people who can vote are. They are there listening to names, watching people fill out paperwork, etc. They can stop any voter at any time from voting until they’re cleared by the governing body. They also have folders filled with peoples names so they can call them and remind them to vote.

        Finally, FL and NH, both swing states, require photo id only or you get a provisional ballot. Ohio, VA and Colorado require a form of id as well. I’m tired of people hinting at fraud just because they don’t like an outcome of an election. Election officals work a long hard day with little thanks, they don’t need you implying that they cheated an election.

      • Chelle
        Nov 13, 2012 - 10:27 PM

        “The Republicans will need to recognize the growth of the minority groups, and focus more on articulating their positions in ways that people can understand them. ”

        Actually, I reread this and understood what you’re saying.

        In which I say: Holy high horse there Batman.

        Minority groups aren’t stupid. They understood the Republican’s polices and rejected them. You can sit around and talk real slow all you want but its not going to change a thing.

        What you need to do is actually appeal to their issues and yea, that’s going to mean actually rethinking some of the party’s stances.

        Now, you can stay strong all you want but in the end, people believe the economy will sort itself out and right itself again. It always does – we’ve seen both Republican and Democrat presidents do it. What they fear is a party who comes in and violates their civil rights.

        And sorry – between the voter id laws, abortion, and gay marriage, you guys kind of have.

        You can sit there, stomp your feet and say you’re right and all if you want.

  5. Sean L
    Nov 10, 2012 - 01:09 PM

    Sorry Garrett, the problem isn’t that we have to change our policies on social issues. That will only serve to turn us into the Democrat-lite Party, who could then spin us as the party giving people only enough to survive for votes. The country came back right this election. Almost every group of Americans is once again conservative or right-leaning. We lost, not because we were too conservative, but because were focussed on electability rather than principles.

    We should not change our principles. A change in platform will only make us seem desperate and opportunistic. The core constituency of the Republican party is its conservative wing, and three million of them did not vote this year because they thought that the candidate was the second coming of John McCain. Democrat turn out was so low, we should have won. But a man like Romney, who’s conservative credentials were questioned from the moment he was nominated, turned off many of that 3 million the moment he became the candidate.

    The coming economic crisis will present conservatives (not Republicans, Conservatives) with an opportunity to explain to the American people why the principles of self-determination, economic independence, and fiscal responsibility and prudence are not only good, but necessary. We need to do a serious PR job on the word “capitalism,” as it has been dragged through the mud by liberals for years. The difference between the parties is that of two parents, one who lets their kids do anything to win their love, and the other who pushes them and doesn’t give them what they want for their own good. Which parent loves the child more?

    We must do better reaching the black and latino communities. Our problem is not our positions, but how we articulate them. We should not change the message based on the ethnicity of the audience; one message for all, none of the soft bigotry of changing the message so that minorities can “better understand them.”

    Reply
  6. The Political Informer
    Nov 09, 2012 - 09:57 PM

    Are you serious?

    “this election was a competition between the two most pathetically small-minded presidential candidates in history”

    This election was between socialism and freedom. If Mitt was elected we could have gone on about fixing our country, but he didn’t, so we can’t.

    “In order for Republicans to win nationally, they need to re-shape the party and grow the platform to recognize the changes in voter preferences and the demographics of the new electorate.”

    This is insane and ridiculous. Why switch our platform just to get some votes? If voters are not willing to vote for our principles and beliefs then they are sure as heck not going to vote for us just because of a different party platform.

    Changing our policies because of one election is unwise. And it will only hurt us.

    Reply
  7. Christopher Rushlau
    Nov 09, 2012 - 06:49 PM

    Quite frankly, I don’t see what any of this has to do with Israel.
    LOL. Seriously, what do you make of the fall in turnout from 131M in 2008 to 117M this time? There was a scandal around the Carter election involving charges of vote-buying in NYC. There was a huge line of election-day registrants in my voting place, so much so that the first time I went on by to another engagement, but two hours later there was still a huge line. Were there bounty hunters out there bringing in voters?
    You cannot make a credible political analysis without talking about Israel, from two angles: the power of the Israel movement in the US (the lobby is only the peak of the movement’s head, or perhaps its fist); and the Arab Spring, coupled with the ongoing (since 1979) Iranian spring and the general liberalization of global politics (viz, BRICS, and consider Turkey), all of which is making a very strong argument that Israel as a state based on racism and genocide (“a land without people for a people without land”) is obsolete. US people may be durable in our fantasies, but politics is the art of the possible. Obsolete how? Civil rights is a self-evident source of legitimacy and security. The era of the self-evident is upon us. No existing imperial power has the energy or inclination to put across the fable that authority is all so that nobody cares what you think. Only tiny Israel continues in that mode. “Jewish and democratic”? LOL!

    Reply
    • Matthew
      Nov 09, 2012 - 07:13 PM

      You seem to have an obsession with Israel. Are you an anti-semite?

      Reply
      • Sean L
        Nov 10, 2012 - 01:28 PM

        Christopher is a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War. According to his bio on the site, he was in the Peace Corps, but left because he thought it was a “crock of s*$!” in his own words, then joined the army in Iraq. In 2004, he was one of the soldiers injured in a bombing of a mess tent in Mosul. Judging from the last paragraph of his profile, Christopher probably suffers from PTSD, and seems like an incredibly bitter man.

        Christopher has posted anti-Israel messages and jokes on various other sites (same icon picture and everything,) and seems to believe that Israel has manipulated the U.S. into doing its bidding. It’s an obsession, really. He reads Israel and its perceived racism and evil into everything, even commenting on an article about a Jeremiah Wright interview that he was too lenient on Israel, even though Israel was never once mentioned; he justified it by saying that he should have likened slaves not complaining about their slavery in front of their masters to the U.S. not complaining about Israel’s “Jewish supremacist state on stolen land.”

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