Green Room

Why last night was so troubling

posted at 12:19 pm on November 7, 2012 by

From my Townhall post-mortem:

– Policy: Obamacare is Exhibit A.  It’s here to stay, even if certain elements of it are struck down or frustrated by states.  This enshrines a massive federal intrusion into citizens’ lives, raises the cost of healthcare, and exacerbates an existing doctor shortage.  It’s also fiscally unsustainable, guaranteeing that its failures will be exploited to push even more bad ideas in the future.  Exit polls showed most voters disapproving of the law, yet their voting decisions helped cement it into the American policy firmament.

– Our politics: Mitt Romney, for all of his faults, ran an aggressive, well-funded, honorable campaign that (generally) focused on the very profound, very big, very urgent issues of our time.  He scored a major debate victory then sprinted toward the finish line, harnessing enthusiasm and momentum along the way.  But it wasn’t enough.  He was defeated by a small, petty, and overwhelmingly negative opponent whose turnout machine swamped all else.  The unserious and unseemly drumbeat of birth control, Big Bird, binders, and Blame Bush worked.  The “Kill Romney” strategy laid the groundwork for this successful approach.  The president offered no meaningful or sweeping vision for a second term, but it didn’t matter.  What an awful precedent.  I fear it says more about the nation than it does about the opportunistic and ruthless Obama campaign.  Two core assumptions must be re-evaluated: America the meritocracy, and America the center-Right nation.

– Demographics: Romney performed very well among white voters, but got hammered by African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and young voters.  These problems aren’t going to magically disappear.  Obama the Alinskyite will almost certainly avail himself of coming opportunities to further marginalize Republicans with these groups, likely by pushing a flawed and partisan immigration reform package early in his second term.  It’ll be a win-win politically.  If it passes, he takes the credit.  If Republicans block it — even for entirely legitimate reasons — they’ll again be branded as the anti-minority bad guys, worsening their demographic problems.  Conservatives must begin to pick battles carefully and undertake the difficult process of expanding their appeal.  This will be a long, hard project.

I keep trying to decide which of these take-aways is the most disheartening.  Take your pick, I suppose.  I agree with Jim Geraghty (see his downtrodden ‘Morning Jolt’) that 2012 holds darker implications than the 2008 wave did — even though Obama’s margin was diminished, and the House remains in Republican hands.

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