Why Mitt Romney Lost—and the GOP Will Continue to Lose

November 16, 2012   |  

 

Nick Gillespie over at Reason Magazine has some lofty thoughts why the GOP got its butt kicked.  He also quotes some  prominent Republicans who believe that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the GOP and that Republicans just need to try harder in selling the same tired old message that voters find distasteful enough to reject at the ballot box.  Republican pundits and mouthpieces subscribe to the view that the Republican Party is perfect just the way it is and changing party orthodoxy is blasphemous.  Conservatives need to digest Gillespie’s words because they constitute a warning bell.

Why Mitt Romney Lost—and the GOP Will Continue to Lose Excerpt

The party’s message is confused, contradictory, and unconvincing.

How did Mitt Romney and the Republican Party blow it all so badly?

The short answer is that the GOP insisted on pushing backward-looking social issues in a country that is increasingly libertarian.

The White House, a Senate majority, and strengthened control in the House of Representatives was not simply within reach for the Party of Lincoln this election cycle. It was gift-wrapped and adorned with pretty little bows. President Barack Obama presided over the worst economy in memory—a situation greatly exacerbated by the very policies he implemented to restart the economy; U.S. foreign policy is a shambles and our standing even (especially?) in the countries we “liberated” recently from autocracy is plummeting; and a record number of voters had disaffiliated from the Democratic Party since 2008. The president was pulling bad numbers right up to the eve of the election.

And yet Obama won re-election easily and the Democrats gained a net two seats in the Senate (including wins in Missouri and Indiana that should have been easy Republican victories). That’s because the GOP, despite its endlessly repeated mantra of limited government, is wildly out of touch with the majority of Americans who consistently say they want the government to do less, spend less, and not enforce a single set of values….

The GOP has a major problem with women voters, who perceive it as either hostile or indifferent to questions about reproductive freedom and choice. Obama won women’s votes by 12 percentage points this time around, about the same as he did in 2008 (which suggests this year’s result is not a stray indicator). There’s no question that the media and Democrats made a huge deal out of Todd Akin’s bizarre biological disquisitions and Richard Mourdock’s principled commitment to an extreme pro-life position. But the reason such statements resonated with voters is because they confirm the idea of the GOP as an anti-sex, anti-abortion party that routinely says the government is awful at everything it does but should have the final say over whether women can get abortions. That’s a contradictory message that is also wildly at odds with the 77 percent of Americans who believe that abortion should be legal under at least some circumstances.

If Republicans failed to engage the libertarian sentiments of voters when it comes to social issues, it also failed to put forth a serious alternative to Obama’s dismal record of increasing government spending (with promises of yet more to come). Indeed, Romney and his fellow Republicans simply did not lay out budget plans that called for specific major cuts to programs even as they called for tax cuts. Instead, we heard only that President Romney would eventually reduce spending to 20 percent of GDP—a level that is still more than two full percentage points above the post-war average for revenue as a percentage of GDP. At the same time and despite a 70 percent-plus increased in military spending over the past decade, Romney committed to the “goal of setting core defense spending…at a floor of 4 percent of GDP” (emphasis in original). Add to that Romney’s inability to say flatly that he would actually repeal Obama’s health-care reform, something everyone understands will cost far more and deliver far less than promised. Instead, Romney averred that he would keep the parts he liked. To a population rightly worried about the looming fiscal cliff, out-of-control spenidng, and massive national debt, the GOP economic plan was weak tea, an echo of the Democratic plan of spending more and more and figuring out how to pay for it sometime in the future.

So far, the right-wing response to the GOP’s drubbing has been strange, to say the least. Right-wing activist Richard Viguerie, dubbed “conservative of the century” by the Washington Times, has said, “Republicans ran away from such issues as same-sex marriage, religious freedom and Obama’s war on the Catholic Church.” At City Journal, the influential publication of the conservative Manhattan Institute, Andrew Klavan proposes that right-wingers play the “long game” by taking over the media and culture industries and stressing Judeo-Christian values because “an irreligious people cannot be free.”

Charles Krauthammer counsels to keep on keepin’ on: “There’s no need for radical change,” he says….

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