Two weeks and a day. That’s how long it has been since America made its presidential choice for the next four years. The prediction of Michelle Obama will continue to unfold as the country’s Democrat leadership works to “change our traditions, our history,” and as we “move into a different place as a nation.”
While I was wrong about how the voting would turn out on November 6th, there were some things I got right. I wondered aloud back in February if “Anybody But Obama” was enough to defeat the sitting president. The GOP tried to be excited about this contest, but I’m not convinced that most Republican voters were that enthused about Mitt Romney. Their energy was aimed at removing Obama from the White House rather than putting Romney into it. That wasn’t enough.
If you compare the electoral maps of the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, you’ll see that very little has changed in terms of how the state electoral votes will actually be cast on December 17th. Romney garnered a few more electoral numbers than McCain (206 to 173), but the overall pool of nationwide voters was down. Approximately five and a half million fewer voters turned out for this election than in 2008.
One of the biggest mistakes that Romney made in his campaign was to present the economic issue as “us vs. them.” As I have often pointed out here, the tide of those who receive government benefits is growing rapidly while the number of taxpayers is shrinking. That isn’t the combination for a successful economy; it’s bad news for the future. But it’s understandable that people vote to keep their benefits coming. Mitt Romney was right to point this out, but he did a poor job of explaining why it’s such a dangerous situation to be in.
It’s not “us vs. them.” Nor is it really “the makers vs. the takers” or anything else like that. It’s about us–all of us. By describing the free market in a way that divides us (as Democrats often do) we misrepresent its communal nature and we allow ourselves to be duped by the rhetoric of the left. Simply put, Republicans must make the case for why our current spending is a path of destruction–not for the rich but for the poor and the middle class. Romney was painted as the wealthy guy who resents the poor and the working classes. I don’t for a moment think that hey believes that, but the Democrats did a good job of making it appear that he does.
How high will spending go? Will it get to $20 trillion? Perhaps $24 trillion? Economic bubbles eventually burst. That includes monetary bubbles. Maybe we’ll be fortunate enough to avoid a complete meltdown. But must we take the chance? Can we awaken from this dreamworld of never-ending spending that our political leaders have led us into? The one good thing about Obama’s re-election is that if the double-dip recession does become a reality, there won’t be a Republican in the White House for the Democrats to blame, though they’ll undoubtedly try to blame the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. (Given the timid nature of Speaker John Boehner and his merry band of big-spending Republicans, that will be especially ironic.)
By the way, that predicted double dip is now a reality in Europe. We can expect it to move our way in the near future. As it does, the economic darlings of the left will continue to push for more spending and higher taxes. This includes the intractable Paul Krugman. In a recent column he sang the praises of 91% federal taxation. That’s right. He seems to like the idea that a wasteful, bloated, overspending federal government should be allowed to return to the days of taking nearly all the money of the very wealthy. He wants them to pay their fair share. We hear that often these days, don’t we? How much is fair? If they take 100%, will that finally be fair?
As author Dustin Siggins points out, the top 1% of earners make fifty times the amount of money made by the bottom 20% of earners. But they pay 1500 times the taxes! It’s not enough to talk about what’s fair–we have to talk about what’s just, what makes sense, and what is hurting everyone.
In the midst of all this, it appears that the GOP has lost its soul. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie got to take a ride on Marine One (the president’s helicopter) and to speak to Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen while they rode on Air Force One. Who knows? Maybe he even voted for Obama. Now he has made his debut on Saturday Night Live. His constituents probably enjoyed seeing their governor on TV. Well, those who have electricity anyway. These are unfortunate signs of the time.
Don’t look for genuine leadership from most of the GOP. Instead, you should expect them to stomp their feet and to talk a good game. All the while they’ll do only what they have to do in order to appear to oppose Obama. Our nation’s capital is a stage on which the players perform. Perception is everything.
Even I was surprised on November 6th, but now I’m listening more attentively. As Republican leaders argue about turning further left and becoming even more like their Democrat counterparts, I wonder if we really have a two-party system anymore. The Democrats kept the White House and the Senate. The Republicans kept the House. The electoral map has barely changed. That speaks more to me of apathy than an energetic mandate.
Republicans, take note. Becoming more like Democrats is the wrong lesson to take from this election. Drinking their Kool-Aid is intoxicating, but it makes you lean left. It doesn’t look good on you. Give the voters an alternative vision, one that is inspired by the constitutional values and free-market inventiveness that made this country great.
This vision might be a hard thing to sell to voters who have been poorly educated in these truly American values, but acting more like liberal Democrats isn’t winning the GOP any friends. In fact, it appears to be losing them the few that they already have.