Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Romney Loss, and Lessons Therein

Romney was, in the end, a nice guy. In personal terms, he actually seemed like a great guy. Rather the ideal conservative by many metrics - an upstanding family guy. He started a business, he made jobs. Yes, his social politics were rather liberal - he was a Mass. guy. He was a very positive fellow, moderate and upbeat in tone. I like him, now.

But he lost. And from here, it seems that part of the reason he lost is because he never really went negative. Really, there's more to it than that - there's also the shifting demographics of the country, etc. But in a terrible economy, on the heels of a foreign policy disaster, by a president who's been exposed as not having much to him, he couldn't manage a win - after being savaged as a tremendous extremist and a horrible human being, for months on end, by his opposition. And so he concedes the race, urging the country to get over its partisan divisions and work together.

That's naive of him. It was the weak spot of his campaign to try and be the guy who rose about the negative politics, and I wonder if the GOP will eventually learn that lesson. In the meantime, America continues its march towards the European model which should have been exposed as an unsustainable goal and a bad idea the moment troubles started in Greece, to say nothing of elsewhere on the continent. In the end, I doubt - unless he was (in Vox Day's words) performing the Mormon equivalent of taqiya - Romney would have stopped this. I suspect he could have slowed it, and maybe Ryan would have offered a chance at stopping it in the future.

If there's any silver lining to this, it's a pretty tarnished silver. The idea that many of the people who are so in favor of these economic and social policies may still be alive when the full cost of them comes to be experienced. See, I strive to uphold Christian ideals, which means - trash talk aside - I can't actually wish ill on people. But I have to admit, there's a part of me that imagines the day coming when the disastrous effects of these policies whip around to inflict serious harm on the lives of the very people now advocating for these policies. You know, that irony when the guy who angsted about universal health care goes to use it, and is denied it because he's judged as not being important enough, or the money simply isn't there, and there's not a charity to turn to. It's a bad thought, it's an unChristian thought, but it's there, and damned if it doesn't sound like a grimly amusing scenario.

21 comments:

Crude said...

I may as well tack on, the one time I felt like Romney was getting likely to lose was when I heard Dick Morris boasting confidently that Romney would win. Why is that guy even on the air? He's pathetic.

Syllabus said...

That is one of the things that worries me about the whole healthcare overhaul: even if I were to concede that what the administration has done is a good idea - I think that medical care needs to be overhauled, but I think that's one of the worse ways to do it - it's a suicidal notion to socialize healthcare when you've got the country teetering on the edge of a fiscal cliff.

BenYachov said...

I like Dick Morris and I was given his past record suspicious of his prediction except Karl Rove and Mike Barone also predicted a Romney Win.

American has changed and we will all suffer for it.

The Deuce said...

See, I strive to uphold Christian ideals, which means - trash talk aside - I can't actually wish ill on people.

I think there is room in there for taking legitimate satisfaction in the justice of the consequences happening to the people that caused them, however, especially in comparison to them happening to people who had no part in it and no memory of what was thrown away.

Crude said...

Syllabus,

it's a suicidal notion to socialize healthcare when you've got the country teetering on the edge of a fiscal cliff.

Sure, but people seem to think fiscal cliffs are imaginary. The government can't run out of money - I'm pretty sure that's literally the argument from Paul Krugman and company.

Ben,

I like Dick Morris and I was given his past record suspicious of his prediction except Karl Rove and Mike Barone also predicted a Romney Win.

To me, Dick Morris is a kind of cowardly, craven individual. A Bill Clinton advisor who had little problem going on TV over and over telling that very pathetic story about the time Bill Clinton almost beat him up, and whose main claim to fame now is making really bold, outspoken predictions and being wrong every single time, yet still being turned to for explanation. I can't even figure out why he's on TV, but so far the reason seems to be 'people like how he talks'.

Deuce,

I think there is room in there for taking legitimate satisfaction in the justice of the consequences happening to the people that caused them, however, especially in comparison to them happening to people who had no part in it and no memory of what was thrown away.

I suppose, but still, it's the sort of thing I shouldn't be focusing on. Christian priorities and all that.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Romney did go negative, attacking Obama on multiple fronts, so maybe you mean he didn't go negative enough or soon enough or intelligently enough? E.g., those ads spreading BS in Ohio about jobs going to China were very negative, and probably cost him the election. Jeep called him out on the inaccuracy (some would say 'lie'), and gave their employees the day of on election day.

Romney was always the John Kerry of the Republican party. His 'etch-a-sketch' stuff, the lack of core ideals that would shift from week to week, a liberal wimpy Massachusetts politician, running against someone who many think should be easy prey given the state of the economy (with Bush it was more international concerns).

But also it shows it is bloody hard to beat an incumbent. And that Republicans will have to start thinking more about what brown people, gays, and women think. It won't be long before people forget that this shift was opportunistic rather than principled.

My hope is that the teaparty religious branch of the party will atrophy, become marginalized again where they belong, and be replaced by the more consistent libertarian strains you found in the 70s and before (or in Arnold Schwarzenegger, for instance). If they focus on their strength: fiscal issues, and de-emphasize issues like opposition to abortion, gay marriage, birth control spending, etc., they will become relevant again, and more consistent with their "small government" values.

Crude said...

Romney did go negative

Barely, and hardly ever personally. That other people went negative doesn't really mean Romney did.

If they focus on their strength: fiscal issues, and de-emphasize issues like opposition to abortion, gay marriage, birth control spending, etc., they will become relevant again,

Nah, they're plenty relevant as is. Those issues didn't harm the GOP - what did harm them were very stupid gaffes. I'm as pro-life as they come, but there's no reason to babble about how rape is the will of God or other such stupidity. They'll likely have to compromise on abortion beyond the Catholic ideal - no surprise - but cracking open an infant's skull and sucking the brains out with a vacuum isn't as much of a popular act as you'd think.

Really, 'libertarian' is exactly the thing people feared most with Romney, as ridiculous as it was. Being supposedly pro-life or against gay marriage didn't do him in, idiot gaffes of other GOP members aside. It was the idea that government, and particular government assistance, should be small. If any view is going to end up being sacrificed, it's probably that one. The GOP's going to have to get into the quasi-socialist game, maybe with particular regards to hispanics and asians.

Blue Devil Knight said...

You might be right that the social issues are not holding them back as much as I think they are. It depends on the state, obviously, but that's sort of the point: the Republicans do great in extremely conservative states like Mississippi.

The problem is that having a monopoly on the redneck vote is not enough to win a national election, and this will only become more apparent unless the party shifts.

Perhaps I was wrong that it is the social issues, or wrong in the specific social issues I picked on (like abortion), but it is precisely that they have narrowed themselves to being extremely popular with white redneck males, marginalizing everyone else, that is killing them.

I'm frankly not sure of the solution because I'm not sure I can pinpoint the cause much more than I have above, in crude and provocative terms ('redneck vote'), but that's the best I can put it now, and I'm pretty sure I'm right.

It's not his fiscal policy that scared people, that is too superficial a view. The problems with the Republican party are much deeper, when it comes to winning a national election.

Or I'm wrong, this is mostly a product of incumbency, and race, and a Republican will win in 2016 when people are ready to swing the pendulum back.

Crude said...

"Fiscal policy" is too superficial a view, but "redneck vote" isn't? It's not as if only white people are against unrestricted access to abortion up until birth (a position that hardly even flies in Europe), or reject gay marriage in sizable numbers, or are even religious. The 'redneck' thing is ridiculous.

'Fiscal policy', however? People who resent the hell out of the wealthy, even in the abstract? People who are receiving government benefits and want more? People who think it's the government's job to give people money and housing and food and shelter and jobs? Those people are now legion.

And that is probably where the GOP change is going to come. I could see the GOP becoming the libertarian party on drug policies. But fiscally? That, even if it was in large part prompted along racial lines, is what was rejected in spades this election, and which the demographics indicate can no longer be pursued. Libertarians can wait until there's a major economic collapse - and judging by the greeks, that wouldn't usher in an era of libertarian ideals anyway, but 'the same big-spending concepts, but even more extreme'. That people do not understand the need to spend only as much or less than they produce, even in the greek situation, should be terrifying.

Crude said...

Not to mention, I don't see why to even describe that voting bloc as 'redneck'. It's like describing the 75-25 latino split as saying 'Well, Obama picked up all the welfare latinos, and Romney picked up all the ones who speak english'. It doesn't get less foul when applying it to whites.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Like I said I spoke in admittedly crude terms and someone with a finer cultural palate could better express what I am trying to say. I'm just saying the fiscal thing is too simplistic (though admittedly important, especially for white voters) and that more subtle cultural forces are much more important than you might appreciate.

I don't buy the right-wing 47% rhetoric that it's all about "We want our stuff, the rich need to pay their fair share, poor me buy me welfare" so vote Obama. Yes, that probably plays a role, but doesn't match all the other issues if you take the integral of all of them.

And I don't want to pretend that Obama's race wasn't important to the latino and black vote. That would just. be. stupid.

Throw away the tea party religious nutballs, get back to more moderate positions. Then you will win. When did Romney move ahead in the polls? When he started to act moderate, and contradict everything he said during his primary run.

Crude said...

that more subtle cultural forces are much more important than you might appreciate.

I appreciate subtle cultural forces. The problem is, you don't regard them as what they are - subtle, and usually complex. This election wasn't lost because of conservative social issues. Believe it or not, the average person - even the person who's in favor of gay marriage - isn't exactly lit up over that issue. On abortion? Most people favor some kinds of limits - the movement has been to the right on that topic.

Now, I'll grant right away that, say... Akin had a bad impact on the election. Was it because he was pro-life? That's absurd. It was because he made a stupid gaffe and never recovered, and that gaffe was utterly detached from the abortion issue itself. That points at a need for candidates who are more disciplined and thoughtful, not 'ditch these issues'.

Sorry, but the 'fiscal thing' is major, and for Romney, the social issues were minor - he had near zero emphasis on them. And no, it's not major just or 'especially' for white voters, re: fiscal issues. If you think that non-white voters (and a sizable amount of white voters) are not wrapped up in the general belief that the government's role is to provide for people and generally take charge of their lives - if you think that 'libertarian ideals' are this real popular thing, and darnit, blacks and latinos and whites would jump all over that if not for their commitment to abortion and gay marriage - you are simply deluded.

Even your recounting of how the polls worked out is ridiculous. Romney 'moved ahead in the polls' well after the primaries, and largely as a result of one thing: Obama doing absolutely horrendous in a debate, truly coming across as a guy who didn't even want to be president anymore. In addition, he got up on stage and actually seemed like a nice person, after months of intense portrayal of him by Obama as someone who dines on the succulent flesh of impoverished black infants.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Even your recounting of how the polls worked out is ridiculous. Romney 'moved ahead in the polls' well after the primaries,

That's what I said. He pulled an Etch-a-Sketch, with a more moderate tone, and did better. He happened to do this most starkly at the debate ('I won't cut taxes on the very wealthy', 'I will cover pre-existing conditions' stuff that he totally pulled out of his freaking butt totally reversing everything he had ever said before). But you are right there is a confound: that debate also humanized him, but it partly humanized him because he drastically etch-a-sketched the day before the debate. IMO.

Blue Devil Knight said...

He didn't seem nice in the first debate. He seemed passionate, concerned, angry, but never particularly nice. He has an arrogant air, like Kerry, that is ineliminably melded into his physiognomy. Though I do think in person he is probably nicer than Kerry, I know people that worked with Kerry who confirmed he was a total arrogant Dbag in person.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Finally, you are consistently overemphasizing the disparity in negativity between the two campaigns. This seems to be the common force escalation phenomenon where people think others are doing worse to them when they are really both doing equally bad to one another. And that's the charitable reading.

Romney went negative. Obama went negative. They both were pretty vicious. Conservatives acted all appalled by it, some even said it was the dirtiest election in US history [sic], which is absolutely preposterous given their history of Willie Hortons, Swift Boats, and incredibly vicious attacks on Bill Clinton. (Plus anyone that knows American history at all knows that things were incredibly dirty back in the day with Jefferson etc)).

But in terms of lessons for conservatives to learn: win the urban vote, or you're screwed, but this is also likely an effect of having a bunch of crappy candidates, and incumbency inertia, so there is really little lesson to be learned on that front.

Crude said...

But you are right there is a confound: that debate also humanized him, but it partly humanized him because he drastically etch-a-sketched the day before the debate. IMO.

The only "etch a sketch" that came particularly at the point of the debate was the transition from Romney, as depicted by Obama, and Romney as he actually appeared in conversation with Obama. He certainly didn't become Romney, the crazy right-wing radical, in the wake of the first debate - or at any point after.

Now, he was DEPICTED a certain way, absolutely. Romney, the monster-mormon who feasts on the hearts of black-babies, produced exclusively by raping black women and chaining them down to use them as incubators of his precious sustenance. But then that just highlights my point about depiction over issue.

Right now, people - at least, an abundant number of them - want a nice social welfare net. They'd like health care, phones, jobs, and more that are free, or at least what they regard as free. So, that's what they're going to get, and it's probably what the GOP is going to start giving them on top of it all. But the idea that what would have saved the day here is being a libertarian, especially an economic libertarian, just doesn't fly.

Blue Devil Knight said...

Note I think a comment got lost in moderation or something.

I think both seeing that Romney wasn't a baby rapist, but also his major step to the middle, helped him in the debate. He reversed his positions, drastically, in the debate, which is one reason Obama was caught so off guard.

Crude said...

Finally, you are consistently overemphasizing the disparity in negativity between the two campaigns.

I disagree, and I don't put much stock in an extreme extrapolation from a study related to measuring how much pressure is being used with an index finger being applied to rhetoric in a political campaign. You're a neuroscientist, aren't you? Isn't what you just did the sort of thing you'd cringe if laymen did? I mean it's small potatoes, but c'mon.

I never said it was the dirtiest election in history. I said that Romney pulled punches and didn't nearly go as on the offensive as he should have, especially compared to what he was receiving. Note that I'm talking about Romney, not 'conservatives'. I'm sure Dan Savage did whatever Dan Savage does, he's just not who I'm talking about.

Recall that Obama out and out suggested Romney was a felon, and Harry Reid's "He hasn't paid taxes in howevermany years, I hear" schtick. The latter one was amazing, even Jon Stewart thought it was absurd.

Crude said...

He reversed his positions, drastically, in the debate, which is one reason Obama was caught so off guard.

Obama didn't seem caught offguard - he seemed apathetic, not flustered or confused. And Romney's positions weren't a drastic turnaround, at that point, from anything other than the attack ads. You really think up until that point Romney was running on the ever popular "I'm going to give billionaires tax cuts!" promise, then suddenly reversed himself? Or 'I have no plans to help sick people who don't already have health insurance'?

Blue Devil Knight said...

He had no national health insurance plan, no plan to force companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions. Look it up. Yet he said his plan would cover people with pre-existing conditions.

Romney planned to cut taxes for all income classes, including the very wealthy. Look it up.

Obama was completely taken aback by these kinds of statements (in addition to his flat demeanor hurting him: this isn't exclusive or).

You are just not basing things on the facts crude. Obama didn't say Romney is a felon. Criminy. Look at the quote from then it was a disjunction, and not from Obama but Obama "people". Silly, yes, but you are overstating things.

Try to cut through interpreting that force study I mentioned so literally and inflexibly, and actually charitably consider whether these psychological forces might be at work, which they clearly are. Conservatives have played the victim, but it is silly.

Perhaps you have little to worry about (for reasons I said in a post that somehow got lost in moderation/spam filter I think Republicans have a very good shot in 2016 if they pick Rubio).

Crude said...

I see nothing in the spam filter, and I didn't moderate anything. There was one comment you wrote while I was commenting, but that was approved after the fact.

You say 'look it up', but what are you asking me to look up? You went from saying that Romney's plan to cover pre-existing conditions was 'a complete reversal', and now it's 'well he didn't give plan details'. Going from 'I didn't state my plan' to 'Here's some details' isn't a reversal, and frankly, if it's even a surprise then Obama was freaking slow.

Obama didn't say Romney is a felon. Criminy. Look at the quote from then it was a disjunction, and not from Obama but Obama "people". Silly, yes, but you are overstating things.

I'm basing things entirely on facts - you're in supreme defensive mode acting like the campaign is still on and the tribe's watching. And that's adorable: by 'disjunction' you mean "they phrased it by setting up a false binary choice where Romney was either a felon or a liar, and strongly hinted he was a felon - and this didn't come from a PAC, but Obama's own team". And, of course, there was the Harry Reid 'Why I hear he didn't pay taxes in years' bit. Wait, no, that's too strong - maybe it was a disjunction. 'Romney either didn't pay taxes, OR he had no taxes to pay.'

Try to cut through interpreting that force study I mentioned so literally and inflexibly,

BDK. Buddy. Pal. It's a dinky little study about raising a finger, and you're trying to extrapolate it into evidence about the validity of an opinion about the rhetorical excess during a year long election campaign. Better yet, your extrapolation is 'And this is why you're wrong Crude!' I can easily consider that I may be wrong for a host of reasons, and I'm quite happy recognizing that what I'm doing here is stating my subjective opinion based largely on the evidence of seen, not the totality of evidence in existence. Believe it or not, you didn't even need that study to convince me that bias exists.

But bringing the finger study up here, in the way you have, is embarrassing to you. It's a hair away from bringing up a paper discussing evolutionary psychology speculations, and then trying to act as if it has some particular persuasive power in the present context. 'Crude you just think Romney didn't go on the offensive enough because when your ancestors were hunting on the Serengeti the ones who used excessive force against wildebeests were selected more than the ones who used less so you have a natural inclination to prefer force and that's why you think Romney should have been more aggressive in the debates.' I'm sure some people eat that crap up - I don't.

Perhaps you have little to worry about

Who said I have 'little to worry about'? Politically I have plenty to worry about. Everyone does. I argued that 'gay marriage and abortion' didn't do Romney in this time, since he avoided abortion like the plague, as well as gay marriage. The most negative hits on that front didn't come from the pro-life position, but Akin and Mourdock saying some really stupid things that are quite easily divorced from the pro-life position. I have nothing against more savvy candidates.

I laugh at the idea that what the public really wants is an economic libertarian candidate. That's ridiculous.