Sunday, November 25, 2012

About the 3,000,000 Republicans who didn't vote, and other reasons why the GOP lost

How Republicans Can Rebrand
While listening to conservative pundits lamenting Mitt Romney's defeat, incredulous that three million Republicans didn't vote -- ostensibly because the GOP (Grand Old Party) had failed to get out the vote -- the real problem hit me: cultural infantilism. Liberalism, and its pillars entitlement and dependency, is now so pervasive, corrosive, and infectious that many of America's adults have regressed.
The GOP shouldn't have to "get out the vote" in any election. Responsible adults know that voting is a civic duty, a responsibility, an obligation, a self-directed act. We tell children to fulfill their obligations, right? Barack Obama exhorted his sycophantic base to vote, even instructing them that voting is the best revenge. Although he won, Obama received 10 million fewer votes in 2012 than he did in 2008.
Adults, conversely, get themselves out to vote. They take responsibility for their lives, make difficult choices and sacrifices, fight to limit government, and control their own destinies. Adults respect the laws of finance and accounting, resent wealth confiscation and redistribution, and loathe unpayable debt.
Alas, there are few adults in socialistic America; that's why Barack Obama, the Candy Man, appeals so much to Candylanders, who childishly accept free candy in exchange for their own freedom. President Obama understands the infantilism of his base and, accordingly, crafted a simple re-election strategy: promise and deliver them free candy; they will overlook my failures and vote for me with messianic zeal. It worked. [...]
That's one way of looking at it. I understand the rest of the author's rant, and as much as I sympathize with his proposed solutions, I'm not sure it's that simple, or that his proposed solutions alone would be effective enough. I think there is more that needs to be considered.

This also makes a lot of sense to me:

Republicans learn the hard way: George W. Bush was right
[...] Compassionate conservatism always struck me as a philosophical surrender to liberal assumptions about the role of the government in our lives. A hallmark of Great Society liberalism is the idea that an individual's worth as a human being is correlated to his support for massive expansions of the entitlement state. Conservatives are not uncompassionate. (Indeed, the data show that conservatives are more charitable with their own money and more generous with their time than liberals). But, barring something like a natural disaster, they believe that government is not the best and certainly not the first resort for acting on one's compassion.

I still believe all of that, probably even more than I did when Mr. Bush was in office.

But, as a political matter, it has become clear that he was on to something important.

Neither critics nor supporters of compassionate conservatism could come to a consensus over the question of whether it was a mushy-gushy marketing slogan (a Republican version of Bill Clinton's feel-your-pain liberalism) or a serious philosophical argument for a kind of Tory altruism, albeit with an evangelical idiom and a Texan accent.

Some sophisticated analysts, such as my National Review colleague Ramesh Ponnuru, always acknowledged the philosophical shortcomings and inconsistencies of compassionate conservatism, but argued that something like it was necessary nonetheless. The evolving demographics of the country, combined with the profound changes to both the culture and the economy, demanded the GOP change both its sales pitch and its governing philosophy. [...]
The playing field has changed. There are new demographics at work. The GOP needs to stop acting as if it's still the 1980s, if it wants to remain relevant.

And this too:

The real reason Obama won
History, not an imagined rejection of capitalism, explains the president's re-election victory
[...] In 1992, George H.W. Bush, presiding over a sluggish economy, faced the hard-charging Bill Clinton, who promised fundamental changes in the nation's economy and an alteration of priorities. Mr. Clinton's charisma and message that he represented change, coupled with a third-party candidacy in the person of Ross Perot, helped ensure Mr. Bush's defeat.

This year, Mitt Romney talked about change but failed to offer a clear agenda that represented a recognizable break with the past. Most informed voters surely recognized that they had heard the promised magical benefits of tax cuts before. In fact, the policy was very recently in place during the administration of George W. Bush, and helped turn a $290 billion budget surplus into a $455 billion deficit, while nearly doubling the national debt from $5.6 trillion to more than $10 trillion. Mr. Romney's assertions that he would reduce spending and close tax loopholes (without meaningful specifics), along with promised defense increases, prevented his ever gaining the credible high ground in the economic conversation. Bill Clinton's retort that "it's arithmetic" probably rang truer with voters than anything offered by the billions of dollars spent on political advertising.

While this year presented an economy still in slow recovery from its 2008 collapse, the other factors present in past presidential defeats were clearly lacking. President Barack Obama had no primary challenge, nor was there any thorny third-party candidacy. He was spared blame for the economic collapse, while being able to take credit for slow but undeniable growth. No charismatic personality dominated the agenda, and the challenger never offered an inspirational program of truly new ideas that signaled a compelling reason for change.

These facts, more than any theories about the rise to prominence of some entitlement-dependent mass bent on turning America into Europe, provide the basis for why the country decided to stay with the guy in office.
Read the whole thing. I think it's possibly the most objective and fair explanation I've read so far, based on historical comparison and analysis, of why the GOP didn't defeat the incumbent. All things considered, the outcome was inevitable.

It's not the end of the world, IF the GOP learns from it's mistakes. And as the next article I'm linking to points out, the Democrats would do well to not become over confident:

Don’t get cocky, Democrats: The post-Romney GOP looks just like you did two decades ago
You’re looking at a political party that has lost the popular vote in five of the past six elections; whose one winning presidential candidate achieved the White House thanks to a fluke; and whose prospects for the future seem doomed by demography and geography.

No, it’s not today’s Republican Party you’re looking at—it’s the Democratic Party after the 1988 elections. And the past (nearly) quarter-century is an object lesson in the peril of long-term assumptions about the nature and direction of our political path.

Consider where the Democrats found themselves that November. They had just lost their third straight presidential election, and not to the formidable Ronald Reagan, but to George Herbert Walker Bush, a WASP aristocrat prone to sitting down at a diner and asking for “a splash of coffee.” They’d lost by more than seven points in the popular vote, and by 416-111 in the Electoral College, winning only 10 states.

The most enduring element of their geographic base had vanished. The once-solid Democratic South was now solidly Republican and, for the second straight election, their candidate had not won a single state in the region.

But that was only the start of the wretched geographic picture. Four of the six New England states had gone Republican, and the Plains and the Mountain West were all in the GOP camp. Most daunting, three big states—New Jersey, Illinois and California, with 87 combined electoral votes—had gone Republican for the sixth consecutive election. The weakness of Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis could not explain away a recent political fact: The Republican Party appeared to have “an electoral lock” on the White House.

What had happened to the Democrats? What changed? And why is this relevant to Republican woes today? [...]
Read the whole thing, for a good reminder of how things can change.      

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