Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What the Republican Party Did Wrong

I got involved in yet another political discussion on Facebook with a friend who was a Romney supporter and is a libertarian, and strangely enough my comments, even without the posts they are responding to, will make for what I think is a fairly interesting blog entry, so here it is after the jump (with some minor amendments for clarity):

It all started as a response to a quote attributed to Greg Gutfeld. I didn't take the time to verify the attribution, because the messenger doesn't matter as much as the message: "I became a conservative by being around liberals and I became a libertarian by being around conservatives. You realize that there’s something distinctly in common between the two groups, the left and the right; the worst part of each of them is the moralizing. On the left, you have people who want to dictate your behavior under the guise of tolerance. Unless you disagree with them. Then the tolerance goes out the window. Which kind of negates the whole idea of tolerance. That’s the politically correct moralizing. Then when you become a conservative, the other kind of moralizing comes from religion. But if you remove both of those from the equation, what you’re left with is libertarianism. From the right, you’ve got free markets. From the left, you have free minds. To me, that’s the only sensible direction. As you grow older, you kind of end up there."

Here is my response:

I just wish that libertarians would start voting their consciences and stop being swayed by one or the other party. When libertarians vote for a major party, they lose. Every time.  Romney ran such a terrible campaign that the chances of a "Nader effect" were minuscule. Libertarians who voted for Romney wasted an opportunity to really send a message to the Republican Party that their economic policies can't make up for their social policies.  Libertarians who voted for Obama wasted an opportunity to really send a message to the Democratic Party that their social policies can't make up for their economic policies. I would say the same thing to supporters of the Green Party who voted for Obama (I doubt any of them voted for Romney).

Many Republicans believed that Obama was an easy target (for an incumbent President) who should have been easy to defeat, and here's the thing, they were right.  It wasn't just the fact that they were blinded by their partisanship that caused them to believe that.  It was true.  And I'm obviously not saying that as a result of partisan blindness, either, because I do agree with the policies of the Obama administration. It's just that Obama's done such a terrible job selling his policies and marketing his achievements over the last four years, that any competently-run campaign with a qualified candidate who actually represented the will of the country should have taken him out in a landslide. Especially when you consider the fact that the Republican Party has, in their own words, made ensuring that President Obama was a one-term President their #1 priority, the only way they could have lost was if the party, as a whole, was completely out of touch with the American people.

And that's exactly what happened. The Republican Party is, as a whole, completely out of touch with the American People. They represent economic policies that are supported by a very large segment of the population, but they cling desperately to niche social policies that the vast majority of the people disagree with and a sizable portion of the people find absolutely disgusting.  The Republicans lost this campaign because they wouldn't let Romney campaign as the person he was when he governed Massachusetts. That may be because he isn't that person any longer or it may be because he had to market himself in a particular way to get through the primaries. Either way, though, the Republican Party crippled itself.

Gary Johnson is a former Republican, and has for a long time been a politician who actually believes in the principles of the majority of the people.  Personally, I don't think that he was a strong Presidential candidate: he is smart, but not particularly quick on his feet, and he doesn't have a commanding presence that a chief executive of the United States needs to have; he was fine for New Mexico in the 90s, but he isn't ready for the national stage.  The Republican Party would have been much better off with a candidate like him (and Romney, when he was governor of Massachusetts, was a lot like that). 2012 was the Republicans' election to lose, and they did.

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