Romney was great when it came to talking about the impact of the economy on large businesses. He was much poorer at connecting to the concerns of ordinary people. He wasn’t Reagan and Obama is a much better campaigner than Carter and there was no significant split in his party to tie him down. His victory was not inevitable, though he came close. A better candidate might have won. Even Romney might have won if he had tackled a wider range of issues and done a better job of connecting with the frustrations and anxieties of ordinary people.
In a period of prosperity or hope, he might have even been the perfect candidate. And it’s not hard to imagine the electorate choosing someone like him to preside over growth and prosperity. But Mitt was running for the wrong job at the wrong time. He was running for the presidency of a bankrupt company and the shareholders were no longer at the point where they wanted someone competent and professional to run the company. They wanted someone who shared their anger or would protect them from the worst of the company’s collapse.
And that may be the larger reason why Romney lost.
This was a loss and there are lessons to be learned from it, but it was not a repudiation of conservative values, the end of America or any of the other things that some people keep insisting it is.
The country isn’t lost and acting like it is will just make it easier for the Democrats to win. Right now the establishment is trying to sell out the base and the base is abandoning ship. That is a truly toxic combination which could very well accomplish what this defeat did not. It can bring down both the Republican Party and the Conservative movement.
On the one hand we have Liberal Republicans who want to realign their party as a less extreme version of the Democratic Party. On the other hand we have Paleoconservatives who view the country as a hostile cultural territory that they are no longer interested in fighting for, but a liberal Sodom and Gomorrah that they would be happy to see burn. Some expect a better America to emerge out of the ashes. Most do not. They just want to see America destroyed to prove their point.
Pulling out of the political process is no answer. It’s comfort food before the apocalypse. There isn’t any room in this country for private enclaves, cultural or otherwise. Not when the left gets through with it. There will be as much room for a real or virtual conservative enclave in 2035 as there was for one in the USSR in 1932 or as there is for one today in Cuba. If the left consolidates its control, then the only place to go will be underground, alive or dead. History bears ample witness to that.
Right now we can still fight and win, but the window is closing on that. If we accept the premise that change is no longer possible, then it really will be all over.
The left has not won. It is doing what it always does, acting as if its victory is inevitable. And that is the sum of its ideology. The left believes that its movement is the inevitable progress of history. It believes that it must win, it’s only a matter of time. That sense of inevitability can be a powerful thing. And its opposite number, the thing that the left tries to instil in its opponents, the sense that they are doomed fossils, dinosaurs watching the comet, is equally powerful in killing hope and urging on the false wisdom of bowing to the inevitable. Amnesty, why not? It’s inevitable.
Defeat is a teacher. How we behave in defeat shows what we are made of. It shows whether we have what it takes to win. If we fail the tests of defeat, then we shall never be worthy of victory.
Kipling said it best in his famous poem, “If”. “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster/And treat those two impostors just the same/If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken/Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools/Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken/And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools.”