Thursday, 08 August 2013

The Real Reason Romney Lost: a Response to Washington Post's Dan Balz

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In his latest book, Collision 2012, Washington Post writer Dan Balz expresses his incredulity over “the inability” of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign to “humanize” its candidate.

This is one reason why, in Balz’s estimation, Romney lost the 2012 election to Barack Obama.

Yet there are two other reasons that he supplies to account for Romney’s defeat. The one pertains to the “technically superior” character of his rival’s campaign. The other is in regard to Romney’s “ambivalence” concerning his bid for the presidency.

The first thing that should be noted is that if Romney’s consultants had difficulty in “humanizing” their man, it’s because those at places such as the Washington Post were more determined to see to it that he was dehumanized. This, after all, is exactly what their man, Obama, wanted. 

Second, as far as technical finesse goes, if there were differences between the campaigns, they were negligible: Obama was more successful in conveying his message because of the ubiquitous and overwhelming media bias that sought to dehumanize his opponent. 

As for Balz’s third contention, it is superfluous to note Romney’s “ambivalence” toward his political fate, for Romney is a Republican and Republicans, as a rule, can be counted upon to act as if they are ambivalent toward the political fate of their party. However, of the three reasons that Balz submits for Romney’s misfortunes, this is the only one that takes.

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It is not, as many “conservative” media personalities insist, that Romney is a “RINO” (Republican In Name Only). It isn’t that he is a “moderate.” And it certainly isn’t that he is “too far to the right,” as those in the Democrat-friendly press maintain.

Though more difficult to accept, the truth is far less dramatic, and much more simple, than any of these fictions. 

And the truth is that Romney lost to Obama because he is just another typical Republican

To see that this is so, we need only ask ourselves: Politically — that is to say, substantively, not stylistically — how is Romney any different from, say, John McCain and George W. Bush? For that matter, with the exception of Ron Paul, how is Romney any different from any of his competitors in the GOP presidential primaries of 2008 and 2012?

The answer is obvious: Romney is not at all significantly different from any of his colleagues.

Not unlike the Bushes and McCains of the world, Romney generously pays lip service to the standard GOP slogan of “limited government” and its ancillaries. And, not unlike the Bushes and McCains, he favors a robust, activist military to reinforce America’s “exceptionalism” around the globe.

In other words, Romney, like his fellow partisans past and present, appears at best incoherent — Big Military, being Big Government, is radically incompatible with “limited government.” 

At worst, he seems dishonest, talking one way out of one side of his mouth while talking an entirely different way out of the other. 

Yet there is more.

We now know that the GOP has been hemorrhaging white voters for the last two presidential election cycles. While Romney needed 46 percent more of the Hispanic vote to win, had he garnered only three or four percent more of the white vote, he would’ve won comfortably.

Many of these same whites who are now cold toward the Republican Party weren’t always so. Having experienced what they rightly take as one too many betrayals, they have either sat out the last couple of elections or they have cast protest votes.

Interestingly, the disenchantment with the GOP that has overcome ever-growing numbers of the conservative and libertarian-minded is the mirror image of the disinterest of independents and others in it. For those on the Right, Republicans’ rhetoric is fine and good; it’s their Big Government policies that are the problem. For those in the center and on the Left, it is primarily Republicans’ rhetoric that frightens them. 

Mitt Romney exemplified the contradictions of his party. Thus, their dilemma became his.

This is why Romney lost the race for the White House of 2012.