Meanwhile, Romney promised to institute major reforms to Medicare, repeal Obamacare and impose a 20 percent across-the-board tax cut. He said he'd issue a 50-state waiver to Obamacare on his first day in office. (Why he didn't promise it to all 57 states I'll never know.) He chose a pro-life, fiscal conservative as his running mate and never praised FDR.
A careful analysis of the Romney plan thus reveals several deviations from the Democrat platform -- more stark than those delineated by even Reagan.
Romney was the most libertarian candidate Republicans have run since Calvin Coolidge. And he got more votes from the dwindling white majority than Reagan did.
How many more votes would Romney have gotten by being a rude, condescending jerk? Sure, it worked for Obama, but he was the incumbent.
Some conservatives didn't trust Romney because, as governor of a state between blue and North Korea, he had instituted a health insurance mandate, one feature of the hated Obamacare.
As governor of a purple state, Reagan had signed the most liberal abortion law in the country and imposed the three largest state tax hikes in the nation's history. Nevada Sen. Paul Laxalt's nominating speech hailed Reagan's governorship of California for producing "a veritable Great Society of aid for schools, minorities and the handicapped," as the Times put it. Reagan had also been an actual member of the godless, treason party.
This is not to diminish Reagan. It is to say that Romney wasn't the problem.
To the extent Republicans have a problem with their candidates, it's not that they're not conservative enough. Where are today's Nelson Rockefellers, Arlen Specters or George H.W. Bushes? Happily, they have gone the way of leprosy.
Having vanquished liberal Republicans, the party's problem now runs more along the lines of moron showoffs, trying to impress tea partiers like Jenny Beth Martin by taking insane positions on rape exceptions for abortion -- as 2 million babies are killed every year from pregnancies having nothing to do with rape.
Romney lost because he was running against an incumbent, was beaten up during a long and vicious primary fight, and ran in a year with a very different electorate from 1980. At least one of those won't be true next time. But we're not going to win any elections by telling ourselves fairy tales about a candidate who lost because he wasn't conservative enough, articulate enough or mean enough.