In the end, it was another Democratic Party rout. On Election Day, President Obama defeated Mitt Romney by over three million popular votes and 126 electoral votes.
The President won every battleground state except one and ushered in to Congress two more Democrats in the Senate and at least seven more in the House. While Obama recorded seven million fewer votes than in 2008, Romney was one million votes shy of reaching John McCain’s losing total.
Although it was not a landslide, it was nowhere near the nail biter that many GOP pundits and consultants were predicting. In fact, many of these supposed geniuses were forecasting a Romney “landslide.” How foolish do Dick Morris and Karl Rove look today?
In their post-election analysis, many of these same “experts” are giving poisonous advice to a party in serious trouble. They are recommending the party move in the direction of Democrats on issues such as illegal immigration, gay marriage, drug use, taxes, abortion to name a few. Following such advice would be the death knell of the Republican Party.
To succeed, the GOP must stand for principles that are starkly different from the Democratic Party; otherwise there is no compelling reason for any voter to support the Republican Party. Unfortunately, the Republican Party is controlled by the moderate, “country club,” establishment wing, also known as Republicans in Name Only (RINOS).
This controlling faction is opposed to a true conservative ever getting the nomination of the party. The party establishment has successfully destroyed every conservative candidate for the nomination since Ronald Reagan.
The result is that the Republican Party has lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections. The RINOS have given us Gerald Ford, Bush Sr. and Jr. Bob Dole, John McCain and, most recently, Mitt Romney.
As is custom, in the last primary season, every viable conservative candidate was savaged by the party elite who backed Romney’s candidacy. They were joined by the Fox News commentators, powerful pollsters like Karl Rove and Dick Morris, and influential columnists like George Will and Ann Coulter. All of them claimed the Romney was the most electable candidate, and, in the end, all of them were quite wrong.
After a billion dollars wasted on feckless advertising, Romney could not even match McCain’s pathetic level of support. He did not inspire or motivate the conservative GOP base, and, thus, lost a quarter of the evangelical vote on Election Day. These voters knew Romney was uncomfortable with social issues and had switched his position on everything from gay marriage to abortion.
In the general election, Romney did not employ the same hard ball tactics against Barack Obama that he effectively used against his GOP opponents in the primary season. Like John McCain in 2008, Romney’s kid glove treatment of the President was an utter failure. There is no better example than in the last debate, when Romney played nice with the President and agreed with many of his positions on foreign policy. Tragically, he refused to criticize the President for his deception and disastrous handling of the Benghazi terrorist attack.
Romney’s campaign was the political equivalent of a football team playing the prevent defense, trying not to lose, but not trying to win. This led the GOP nominee to disregard the “Fast and Furious” scandal and the President’s decision to give amnesty to millions of illegal aliens under the age of 30. Worst of all, the President’s unpopular plan to socialize healthcare was not attacked by the Romney campaign, thus wasting a powerful issue. As the father of socialized medicine in Massachusetts, Romney was the worst possible candidate to criticize “Obamacare,” so he solved that problem by ignoring it altogether.
Romney tried to make the entire campaign about one issue, the economy. As a result, social conservatives were given no reason to vote. The grassroots movement that delivered the House of Representatives to the Republican Party, the Tea Party, was completely ignored by the Romney campaign. Tea Party favorites, like former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, were not even invited to the party’s convention in Tampa. To add insult to injury, Ron Paul delegates were rudely treated in Tampa and many of them were denied credentials to the convention. The Romney team wanted a “unanimous” convention, but it was a counterproductive tactic as disgruntled Ron Paul supporters did not forget this disgrace on Election Day.
Will the GOP ever learn? The correct response is not to become more like Democrats but to nominate a candidate with courage who will embrace the conservative principles outlined in the Republican platform. In contrast, Mitt Romney treated the platform like it was the bubonic plague.
The quest for 2016 now begins and this will be an effort to see whether conservatives can stay within the GOP or find a new home, as recommended by former presidential candidate Herman Cain.
To survive, Republicans cannot allow the beltway, establishment wing of the party to dictate who will be the next nominee. If so, it guarantees another loss, like Romney and his predecessors.
The next nominee cannot be another moderate flip flopper, but someone who can communicate powerful conservative principles while energizing, not insulting, the base of the party. The next nominee needs to embrace the Tea Party movement and use this enthusiastic group as the foot soldiers for the next campaign.
Over the next four years, the last thing the Republican Party should do is move more to the political left, which is already owned by the Democratic Party. Even though this was another painful defeat, Republicans should not abandon their time tested principles; instead, they should finally start to proclaim them.