Isn’t it tragically ironic that the man who rode the perfect storm into public office on the horse of national unity has now perfected the politics of division so spectacularly that he won re-election despite the worst record in decades?
For when you sift through the rubble from the Republican Party’s 2012 nuclear catastrophe, you find consistent clues pointing to a simple explanation: We lost because Barack Obama convinced enough voters that he cares more about people than Mitt Romney, a rich white guy who is contemptuous of the poor, women, blacks and seniors. Never mind results; Obama cares and Republicans don’t.
In his fundamentally transformed America, Obama has replaced “e pluribus unum” with “us against them.”
So before the GOP rewrites its party platform, it better study the tricks its community-organizer opponents used so successfully against it. Before it surrenders to the conclusion that its policies are unpopular, it might contemplate a simpler explanation: The voters neither rejected our policies, nor endorsed Obama’s failed record. Rather, they bought into Obama’s lies and distortions.
For example, a friend told me his retired, intelligent mother-in-law voted for Obama because she believed Romney didn’t care about her as a woman and a member of the “47 percent” and would take away her Social Security benefits. I kid you not.
Common threads connect these rationales: They are all grounded in fear, they are products of Obama’s divisive politics, and they are completely untrue.
While Romney took the high ground and presented a substantive critique of Obama’s failed record and offered his own concrete solutions, Obama mostly ignored policy, refused to put forward his own agenda, grossly mischaracterized Romney’s agenda, blamed his predecessor, demonized Romney and worked up various identity groups into a frenzy with the politics of fear and division.
We are headed inexorably toward financial collapse because of overspending, especially on entitlements, and Obama won’t even suit up for the game. He’s on the sidelines mocking those competing their hearts out in trying to save this nation. To this day, he has not presented the first syllable of a plan to reform entitlements, which he casually referred to as recently as last week as “long-term impediments to growth.”
No, they are not merely long term, and growth is not the only thing they will impede. We now begin every fiscal year in the hole some $250 billion, the figure by which our entitlement layouts and interest on the debt exceed our revenues, before we spend a dime of discretionary spending. This is a real, present problem, and Obama is denying it even exists.
The dirty little secret – and it apparently remained a secret to millions – is that under the Romney-Ryan plan, seniors, and everyone else, would have received their “entitlement” benefits. Under Obama, they very well may not, because those programs, and the nation along with them, are going bankrupt.
When you also consider exit polling data showing that people were duped into believing the anemic economy was still George W. Bush’s fault, it’s clear that Obama’s despicable strategy of deceit, slander and divisiveness worked. He dedicated millions to depicting Romney as a felon who reveled in killing and firing people, exporting American jobs and illegalizing contraceptives, and as one who didn’t care about the poor or minorities and would rob seniors of their government retirement – and the voters bought it.
So before the GOP panics into believing the country is irreversibly changed and reordering its priorities or abandoning time-tested conservative principles, it might reconsider its messaging techniques and strategies. It might want to re-evaluate its approach to so-called negative campaigning and how to respond to Democratic lies. Indeed, it’s time to jettison its pristine approach, take the gloves off and warn the people in bold, stark terms about the hellish nightmare that awaits them under Democratic policies.
It is sobering to realize that a substantial majority probably agrees with us, but there is so much misinformation and propaganda in the air that they can’t see through the fog.
Surely there is a way to figure out how to win the votes of people who actually agree with us but have been led to believe they don’t. Surely there is a way to convince seniors of the truth: that Romney’s plan would have preserved their benefits, while Obama’s greatly jeopardizes them. And, yes, surely there is a way – somehow, someday – to convince Hispanics and even the black community that we are not ogres who don’t care about them, and that our party actually stands for policies many of them prefer.
Republicans must learn how to level the playing field by discrediting and neutralizing Democratic propaganda before the GOP can even begin to sell its superior ideas.
If we can’t figure out how to win elections when the majority of the electorate actually agrees with us, demographics and the rest are academic anyway.