The Right Coast

Editor: Thomas A. Smith
University of San Diego
School of Law

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Maybe it's time for a real choice
Tom Smith

This is a must read as part of the ongoing discussion of What the Heck Just Happened? Andrew McCarthy begins with the assertion that a lot of people who won't vote Democrat but might vote GOP just didn't show up to vote.  This claim, if true, is absolutely essential to understanding the state of US electoral politics.  We won't know if it's true until we get more definitive numbers out of last Tuesday.  It is not, however, hard to believe.  Our president mounted an extraordinarily negative campaign starting early and spending a lot of money. That may well have convinced a lot of Reagan Democrats (or whatever we're calling them now) that Mitt was an unsympathetic rich guy against working people. They weren't going to vote for Obama but they were turned off Mitt as well.  If you have a lot of missing working class white voters and somebody spent many millions telling them, don't vote for this guy, you have the beginnings of a testable theory. And one that's a lot more so than, It's The End of the World!, or, Obama is Truly the Kwisatz Haderach!

McCarthy also suggests that the GOP does a pretty terrible job of being the Party of Liberty; they are merely the reluctant progressives compared to the Dems' proud progressives. Between the profligate spending of the Bush years and the in-hindsight disastrous, or at least unprofitable wars, he has a point. A good symbol of this is that Mitt was the author of the beta for Obamacare, a fact we are supposed to have forgotten.

History is very difficult to understand even in retrospect. The idea than anybody has their arms around a Theory of Possible Histories of America, with all the major possible forks in the road going forward, including the road to serfdom, which some suggest we irrevocably got on last Tuesday, is, to be charitable, a bit much to credit. It's buying into the same Obama is the One bunkum that should be unpersuasive to grownups.  To me it looks more like he ran a very effective, even ruthless, campaign against a weak candidate who lacked much appeal even for his own base, and who was woefully unprepared for the technological and managerial demands of a presidential race in 2012, let alone after.  See the complete disaster that was ORCA, for example.  For a guy that was supposed to be Mr Business, pretty lame. Something that must be remembered at every moment going forward is that the authors of the disastrous Romney campaign have every motive to cast blame on demographics, History, He Really Is The Chosen One, or any other explanation than, they ran an incompetent campaign for a fatally flawed candidate, which strikes me as the much more parsimonious explanation.

Can the GOP be the party of liberty? I really don't know. It's a question of whether it would be easier to reform the GOP or create a new party, both very daunting prospects. But the failure of Mitt Romney to get elected President hardly says that liberty is finished in America or that socialism is triumphant. A more plausible suggestion is, the Republican Party is ripe for a hostile takeover.  Talk about an underperforming dinosaur with a rotten management.

The future is a very big place and it's hard to say what all can happen there.

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I don't think it's any more complicated than Mitt was a bad candidate. Let's face it, very few republicans were very excited about him. We all wanted someone else to get the nomination. The energy is in the Tea Party and the GOP wants nothing to do with it.

Let that be a lesson for them.

Posted by: Steve | Nov 11, 2012 7:45:45 PM

Your diagnosis is too simple, Steve.

True enough, Romney was not beloved even within his own party. But the GOP was unable to field a single better candidate during the presidential primaries. Who amongst his primary opponents would have had broader appeal in the electorate at large and in the swing states in particular?

As for the Tea Party, consider Richard Moordock in Indiana. His candidacy was the result of a Tea Party insurgecy against the GOP's establishment candidate (Lugar). Romney carried Indiana on election night by a large margin (more than 10 percent), while Moordock lost to his Democrat opponent.

The Tea Party's results outside of Republican primaries has been mixed at best.

Posted by: Curmudgeonly Ex-Clerk | Nov 13, 2012 11:31:22 AM

Generally, even though the Tea Party doesn't like to admit it, the establishment is better at winning independents, and thus most elections in swing states. Remember that Romney drove himself from a moderate position closer to Tea Party positions during the primary, which turned off a lot of voters, particularly in the midwest. (aside: dear god why did he think that was necessary? was he really, truly afraid of losing to that pack of D+ candidates???)

Posted by: Weak argument | Nov 13, 2012 4:21:06 PM