Sunday, November 18, 2012

Random Thoughts--Things I Think I Think

The sitemeter numbers for this blog still come to  my email box monthly, and apparently nobody reads it.  That probably has something to do with the fact that I never write anything.  After the election, I had TONS of stuff to "say," but sure didn't want to post it on Facebook.  It is hard to resist the urge sometimes, but I really don't want to be that guy who constantly peppers his friends' news feed with unrequested political observations.  That said, if you come here, you asked for it!

I've been thinking a lot about the results of the election.  I voted for Romney.  And I did so happily--more happily than I have voted for any candidate I have ever voted for.  Every other GOP nominee since '88 was someone I had voted against in the primaries.  Not Romney.  Some people called him a squish, a RINO, and worse.  Who knows, maybe I am, too.  In him I saw a fundamentally good and decent man, with a deep faith and a wonderful family.  I saw an intelligent, highly educated, very successful person.  I saw someone whose skill set seemed uniquely situated for dealing with the current issues facing our country.

But he lost.  I really thought he would win.  Even when the polls showed him behind, I thought they were wrong.  I could not fathom that there would be a huge Democratic turnout advantage after 40 straight months of 8% unemployment, US Ambassadors' dead bodies dragged through the streets, Al Qaeda flags flying over our embassies, etc.  But there was.  I thought there would be a "silent majority" that showed up at the polls, just like in 1968.  And they didn't.

This floored me.  I wasn't so upset that Obama had won; I was upset that a majority of the country wanted him to win. (I wasn't upset that committed liberals voted for him, either--that is expected.  But you expect the "undecideds" to break in the direction of certain predictable trends--and they did not, in this case).  Lots of ink has been spilled analyzing the loss.  And I still am not sure yet what the lesson plan on the election of 2012 will look like down the road.

Here's the big question: Is this the "new normal?"  Do the combination of demographics, media bias, entitlements, and changed expectations on the part of our citizenry mean that no conservative can ever win again?  One could argue that if this Republican could not win in this environment, that the GOP has become the Tories in Britain--relegated to a rump status, campaigning only on the promise that they can run a liberal nanny state more efficiently than the other guys.

Or... Is this election tied up in the unique personalities involved?  Obama is our first black president.  That's special.  Romney is mega-uber-super-rich.  If 4 years from now, a more populist Republican faces a less-historic Democrat, do the same messages resonate differently?

I don't know.  However, historians look for patterns.  I was thinking the pattern was Reagan in '80 or Nixon in '68 (or, had the economy recovered before election day, Reagan in '84, with Obama starring as the Gipper).  Now the closest pattern I see is Bush in '04.  Look what we had--a fellow who half the country disliked intensely, who but for the unique circumstances of his birth would have never been a contender in the first place, defending a mess mostly of his own making.  The other side puts up a rich New Englander with a skill set perfectly tailored to the issue of the day (in this case, Kerry and the War on Terror).  But he is seen as out of touch, and the election is held at almost the last moment that Bush or the War on Terror have more than 50% support.  Certainly a year later he would have lost.  Afterwards, Democrats are passing around the hemlock, and Karl Rove is pontificating about a permanent majority for Republicans.  And look how that turned out.

Anyway, I still don't know exactly what I think about this election.  But it's not the end of the world.  And even if it is, there's nothing I can do about it.