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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What this election should teach Republicans

There's a vast amount of Monday morning quarterbacking going on today, to no surprise really.   People scrambling to figure out "What the hell happened?".  It's kind of sadly amusing to see how assiduous some have become despite being ferverously optimistic just a day before.  And while I can understand the sentiment, I can only say it's really nobody's fault but ours.   

I firmly believe Mitt Romney would have made an excellent president.  His qualifications were presidential.  I'll stand by my support of him as firmly as I know those who supported Goldwater in 1964 still stand by their choice 48 years later.  I believe that Romney is truly conservative.  It only takes looking past his political career choices (more on that in a moment) to see a man steady in the Mormon faith.  Whether or not you agree with the Mormon faith is irrelevant as long it's understood that it shares many of its basic tenets with Christianity, particularly the moral social issues such as abortion and gay marriage.  He was a bishop within the church at one that went out of his way on one occasion to try to save an unborn life by trying to convince a member of his congregation not to have an abortion.  So the principle was there.  

Then what was Romney's fatal flaw then? It was not openly running on his principles.  And I'm not just talking about this election season, but all his prior elections.  You see, having campaigned in a deep blue state like Massachusetts for both Senator and Governor, I'm sure Romney felt that he had to moderate himself in order to get elected.  A principled conservative winning in such a deep blue state probably did not stand a chance.   In other words, he covered and obfuscated his light in order to achieve victory in Massachusetts.  And while that can work in a more homogeneous demographic like Massachusetts, that's not going to work for the country.  His conscious choice to moderate years ago painted him into a political corner.  

Why is this the fatal flaw?  Because the turnout that was expected of Republicans didn't happen.  All this talk about enthusiasm proved to be just conservative echo chamber.   And the turnout didn't happen because people didn't see a man of principle to stand behind.  He wasn't the bold conservative leader they were hoping for.  Sure, many conservatives fell in line and rallied around the party.  But it was the wavering undecided support that ultimately didn't cash in.   This explains the polling vs the results in a few states.  Pennsylvania was supposedly deadlocked in the polls on Monday.  Yet, come Tuesday night, Obama won the state without breaking a sweat.  The polling of likely voters wasn't wrong per se, just the assumption that the sample represented the electorate was dreadfully wrong.   Instead of the turnout that expected, the opposite seemed to  happen.   These people just stayed home.  And the lion's share of that can be attributed to not really  having a candidate they could truly believe in.   As I said in prior posts, Romney was no Reagan despite Obama being Carter reborn.  

So what's the lesson here?  If you want to win an election, you need to run principle.  You need to have a political record to back it up.   A moderate Republican will never win.  Ever.  McCain didn't.  Dole didn't.  Now put Romney in that category.  I know keep harkening to Reagan, but he was the last Republican to win a decisive victory as president (Bush 41 pretty much rode on Reagan's curttails, so doesn't count in my view).   And he did it on priciple.  Yeah, he was rejected at first, but he stuck to his message.  And won big.   Liberal infected Republicans like to pretend that moderates are the most electable.  But now they're 0 for 3.   The last Republican to win, Bush 43, ran on principle (even though he was far more government leaning than a real conservative...."compassionate conservativism" is what he called it).   

It's time to stop drinking the liberal Kool-Aid.   We need to nominate a high quality, principled conservative candidate that will run as such.   Someone that Republicans and conservatives will instinctively and viscerally believe in.  It's time to stop trying to beat the liberals at their own political correctness game.  It doesn't work.  We'll lose every time.  Instead we need a candidate that will proudly stand up and say "Yes, this is what I believe in and this is what's right, who's with me?"  No, they might not win at first (because you still need a quality candidate and a good ground game), but it's a far better chance than continuing to throw out moderates who stand no chance of winning against Hillary in 2016.