Ok, I’m not really shocked. In fact while I thought Romney was going to win, it wasn’t what I was predicting when he won the nomination. In fact, I wrote back in March on Whitehouse12.com that when it came down to it, the election would not be about the economy. Turns out, I was right.
With a mixture of QE Infinity, a suspect September jobs report, and unemployment applications surprisingly falling (because California failed to report their numbers on time), the argument on the economy became relatively dampened just in time for the election. Toss in pure media malpractice in their coverage on Benghazi and Sandy, where there was simply the latest in a string of incompetencies by this administration, and come election day Romney’s success as a businessman did not put him over the edge in voters minds.
What did put Obama over the edge was perception. Obama was the candidate with your lady parts on his mind, and not in a dirty way. He was the one who didn’t put women in binders, whatever that means. But he was the one who is making it so that our nation stops killing sick people. He is the one who cares so much about the poor and middle class, despite taxing them through Obamacare. And of course, his strategy of divide and conquer worked. Obama is the President of blacks, Hispanics, women, students, the poor, the middle class, Hollywood, and so on. Romney’s one failed attempt at divide and conquer was announcing that he was not the guy for the 47%. Somehow that was less successful than Obama’s strategy.
The Republican establishment has 2012 all figured out. If only we offered our version of the Dream Act, rewarding young illegal immigrants for good behavior. If only we were less rigid about what we believed and sounded more like Democrats. The fact is, we did ok with moderates. Moderates don’t win elections. The only reason we keep having it drilled into our heads that they do is because pandering to moderates is a great way to lose conservative votes.
Now, Republicans have an opportunity to communicate with the country. The Fiscal Cliff should teach the country a few very important lessons. All the tax hikes in the world won’t solve our deficit problem. Tax hikes on the rich will hurt the economy, but they won’t cover even one major pork bill. The problem is spending. We are spending ourselves broke and not even taxes on the rich can close the gap.
But instead, the lesson coming out of the fiscal cliff is that we all need to do our fair share. Those of us who make more should pay far more. Forget deficits and budgets and all that wonky stuff. If you are rich, you didn’t build that. It’s time for you to suffer like we are all suffering so that we can all share in this wonderful suffering that is America. Somehow this is the message that is resonating, and it is probably because we have no Newt Gingrich in Congress to stand up and call the whole concept ridiculous.
Conservatism is not about shared suffering. It is about freedom and opportunity. It is about striving for so much freedom and opportunity that poverty becomes a choice. It is about a people who tell the government what it can and can’t do, not the other way around. It’s about personal responsibility and the ability to choose whether or not to buy your neighbor the things he or she needs and wants.
Conservatism is about fair, simple taxes. It is about states rights. It is about limited foreign engagement only when our national security is at risk. It is about the right to drink beer and shoot off fireworks in your back yard. It is about the right to teach your kids the Bible or worship however you want. It is about the right to live, pursue happiness, own property, earn your way through school and get a job you love. The outcomes are not guaranteed, but the right to pursue the outcomes are.
This is a message that would resonate. Freedom gets people to the polls. The problem is that too many moderate Republicans are so worried about governing that they forget their primary responsibility: to uphold the constitutional protections against their attempts to govern. We are a nation of individuals governed by states and united under one constitution. A party that runs on a conservative constitutionalist platform will win.