On January 25–four days after President Barack Obama was inaugurated President for the second time–political columnist Mark Shields assessed the electoral dangers facing the Republican party.
“The Republicans want to blame Mitt Romney. That’s fine. But Mitt Romney is more popular than the Republican Party. I mean, he got 47%. The Republicans are dead in the water right now.
“So you know they’re going through a difficult period. And they have got to try and figure out.
“They can’t talk to Latinos, the fastest growing group in the country. They’re basically not conversational with younger voters. They are–Asians have left them in droves.
“You know, they have just–they’re an aging white party, and in a country that is not–is less white each year.”
After Ronald Reagan defeated President Jimmy Carter in 1980 and defeated the Democrats’ nominee, Walter Mondale, in 1984, Democrats went through a similar time of torment.
“And Democrats said, geez, Ronald Reagan is good on television,” said Shields. “If we can get somebody as good on TV as he is–instead of that moment of introspection and saying people found the other side…our opponents, to be more relevant, more real and more plausible to our lives and their lives than they found us.
“And that’s–it’s a terrible thing to live with rejection, but a losing party has to say, what is it? And what you can’t do is blame the voters. And I have heard echoes of that on the other side. The voters, that’s the 47% of takers, you know. No wonder we can’t win if they are all just parasites and worse.”
Mitt Romney–and other Republican candidates–lost bigtime on November 6 for a wide range of reasons:
1. He was not simply an opportunist; he was widely recognized as one. He was despised by those on the Right as well as those on the Left, and for the same reason: He would take any position on any issue–even if this meant contradicting his previous position on it.
2. He was not only rich, he made it clear that this was the only group he truly cared about. His public comments shouted this:
- “I have friends who are owners of NASCAR Teams.”
- “Ann drives a couple of Cadillacs.”
- “Corporations are people, my friend.”
- “Forty-seven percent are dependent upon government.”
Yet it is possible to be wealthy and trusted by those who aren’t–like Robert F. Kennedy, who identified with the poor and oppressed.
3. Republicans enraged and alienated Latinos by their constant anti-immigrant rhetoric.
4. Republicans enraged and alienated blacks by their constant hateful, racist attacks on President Obama. Clint Eastwood’s empty chair ”comedy” act at the Republican convention pleased his fascistic audience. But it outraged many non-fascists–especially blacks.
5. Republicans angered and alienated women–by constantly talking about
- gutting Planned Parenthood
- outlawing abortion
- “legitimate rape”
- banning birth control.
6. Republicans enraged and alienated voters generally and minorities in particular by their blatant efforts to suppress the voting rights of their fellow citizens.
Republicans falsely claimed widespread voter fraud in areas where there was absolutely no evidence for it–such as Pennsylvania. And when voter fraud was discovered, the culprit was a get-out-the-vote consulting firm hired by Republicans.
7. Republicans allowed their party to be represented by slimeballs like Donald Trump and Rush Limbaugh.
When Trump claimed he could prove that Obama wasn’t an American citizen, Romney refused to distance himself from him, let alone say, “I don’t want support from a hateful idiot.”
And he similarly refused to condemn Rush Limbaugh for calling Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute.” The reason: She had testified before Congress on the need to have insurance companies cover contraceptives.
Romney didn’t dare condemn Limbaugh. He was too scared of losing Limbaugh’s endorsement–and thus the support of his aptly-named “dittohead” audience.
8. Republicans ultimately depended for their success on a voting group that’s constantly shrinking–aging white males. Having alienated blacks, gays, women, Latinos and youths, the Republicans found themselves with no other sources of support.
9. Republicans–and especially Romney–put out so many blatant lies that they came home to hurt them:
- Romney initially opposed the President’s bailout of General Motors. But when that resurrected the American auto industry, Romney changed his tune and said he had always been for the bailout.
- During his second campaign debate with the President, Romney charged that he had not called the September 11, 2012 assault on the American consulate in Libya a “terrorist attack.” But Candy Crowley, the moderator, immediately pointed out that Obama had called it an “act of terror” just two days later.
- Summing up Romney’s attitude toward the truth: ”We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers,” said Neil Newhouse, a Romney pollster.
In the end, Americans came to know the truth, and the truth made them free–of Romney and the Republican agenda.
Only when Republicans accept that millions of Americans permanently reject much of their agenda will they be able to hope for a return to power.