It's been one week since President Obama won a second term of office and I have done my best to avoid doing an endzone dance in the faces of all my conservative friends and critics, partly out of a sense of "winning with dignity" but mostly because it's not like I've been a huge Obama cheerleader this election cycle. I've supported him because he was the lesser of two evils and because of my sheer disdain for the current GOP platform, but it's not like he was "my guy" and I have any vested interest in his victory beyond just seeing the conservative ideology suffer another humiliating defeat at the hands of their own arrogance.
Yes, conservative arrogance, arguably the single biggest contributing factor to the defeat of Mitt Romney.
Don't believe the republican excuse makers on the "news" circuit, they lost this election due entirely to their own actions (or inactions as the case may be).
The excuses coming from the right have been amazing, too.
Yes, the conservative right has launched a full-scale class and racial attack on the majority who re-elected the president. All the code words have been thrown out there by all the talking heads, but the common "wisdom" within the conservative bubble is that everyone who voted for Obama is now part of that Romney-demonized "47%" who are freeloaders, bums and mooches looking for "free stuff" as Bill O'Reilly put it while the results were still coming in. That's how conservatives deal with a PR blunder - Romney's secretly taped lambasting of the 47% who won't vote for him - by doubling down on it and using it as the basis for their chief excuse as to why they didn't win.
According to the conservative base, America is now rocketing headlong into hell, driven by Obama and his legions of welfare queens, activist judges, labor unions and "people who don't look like us". Us being white males over 30 and the women who love to serve them. The racism and classism that was thinly-veiled for the last 4 years has now come racing out into the forefront. Conservative politicians and pundits alike have been lamenting the (de)evolution of America into one where white males are now the minority and the country is now being held hostage by minorities, women and "moochers" looking for "free stuff".
And it's all bullshit.
The white conservative male majority wants desperately to believe that they have the superior party, the superior platform, the superior ideology and the superior candidates and that the only way they can lose is through fraud, criminal activity or the takeover of America by those who wish to see our great nation reduced to a smoking pile of socialist rubble. And, as long as they continue to believe this myopic narrative, they will continue to lose elections and blame everyone but themselves for it.
For the guys who bill themselves as the "party of personal responsibility", Republicans sure have a hard time taking the blame for their own screw ups...
Here's why the Republicans lost the presidential election, and will continue to lose major elections until they pull their heads out of their hermetically-sealed asses:
1. Mitt Romney
He was a weak candidate from the get-go. His opponents destroyed him in the primaries, doing much of the Obama administrations work for them, and the only reason Romney won the nomination was due to lack of any better option. Who were Republicans going to vote for instead? Newt Gingrich? Michelle Bachmann? Hermann Cain? The pool was weak as hell and Romney was the only one who acted even remotely "presidential" at all. However, all the statesman posturing and posing can't cover up the complete lack of any core principles and basic dignity that characterized Mitt Romney as a candidate. He literally said anything he thought people wanted to hear in order to keep moving up in the polls. He would contradict his own stance on key policy issues literally within hours of each other. Depending on what year, week, day or hour you decided to pull a clip of Romney speaking, he was either pro-choice, pro-life, anti-immigration, pro-immigration, anti-taxation, pro-taxation, anti-entitlement, pro-entitlement, and so on. If a guy that completely bereft of integrity would have still managed to get elected president, it wouldn't have been the Democrats who lost, it would have been the entire American electorate.
2. Social Conservatism
Most people aren't rigidly pro-life. Most people aren't rigidly anti-gay marriage. Most people aren't rigidly anti-contraception. Most people aren't rigidly fundamentalist Christian. You can't win a popular election running on a platform that is unpopular with most of the country. At some point you would think someone in the RNC would have floated a memo telling the ultra-conservative male candidates for senate and congressional seats to shut the hell up about abortion, contraception, gays and the bible until after the election. The fact that this didn't happen betrays a fundamental ignorance of popular opinion by GOP policy makers. Even among people who agree with the GOP stance on these issues, most don't support the government getting involved with legislating these values on the general public. Pretty much any time you run on a platform of taking away or restricting freedom and liberty, you're going to have problems.
Unfortunately, if politicians like Bobby Jindal are any indication, Republicans still aren't getting it. Today Jindal said the problem with the GOP platform is that they need to move more towards the center on fiscal issues, while maintaining their staunch social conservatism. This is so ridiculous it's almost laughable. Fiscal conservatism is about the only thing that the majority of the country agrees with the GOP on. Most Americans support tax reform and reduced spending and smaller, less intrusive government. There's actually a broad base of support for the tenets of fiscal conservatism. To abandon the one core party principle that even sways independents, moderates and that coveted minority demographic, while doubling down on the divisive social conservatism that has dogged the party ever since they got into bed with the religious right is to ask for more of the same in the upcoming elections.
3. Conservative Media
If for nothing else than insisting that the first two things I listed weren't issues for the GOP at all, the conservative media complex has failed its demographic and cost its party the presidency. However, there was far more that the conservative media did to screw the GOP out of a presidential win than simply ignoring the two giant elephants in the room, shitting all over the furniture.
First, the conservative media screwed the pooch by making Mitt Romney the heir apparent from the jump. He was a terrible candidate all along, there's a reason the guy has spent over $1 billion in 3 election cycles and never won. He's a turd, a silly putty candidate who can be shaped and molded into any form and imprinted with anything you stick to him, but has no backbone and a completely soft center. If the GOP should have learned anything from the re-election of George W. Bush, it's that people will back a strongly principled and consistent candidate, even if he's completely wrong, simply because standing for something - even the wrong thing - is better than going any which way the wind blows on every single issue put before him. I mean, come on, John Kerry lost in large part due to being characterized as a "flip flopper" for changing his views on certain key issues, namely the war in Iraq, how did they think a serial flip flopper like Romney would do? Yet, they insisted he was the best man for the job - much to the anger and frustration of the Ron Paul nation.
Second, they set the narrative for the Republican party, and it was tone deaf on an epic level. Class warfare, demonization of the working class, extreme social conservatism and cheerleading of Republican obstructionism in Washington all fell flat with voters. Conservative media has been up its own ass for so long that they've completely lost touch with what most people without an extreme right wing ideology actually believe. To make matters worse, when the national public opinion polls began to point out this fundamental failing on the part of conservative media, they simply made up their own polls which reinforced their flawed narrative. Romney (in)famously said "our campaign isn't going to be dictated by fact-checkers" and unfortunately for them, it wasn't. Ignoring the facts in favor of whatever makes you look good is never a winning strategy.
So now it's a week later and the conservative media is in an incredibly advanced state of denial and manic self-preservation. They have attacked every one and thing they can in order to shift the blame from themselves. Instead of taking a critical, objective look at where they screwed up, they're doubling down on the flawed ideology that cost them the election in the first place and instead blaming the failure on anything but their own incompetence. Conservative media is blaming minorities for "stealing" America away from "real" (i.e. white) Americans. They're blaming the persistent specter of "liberal media" for failing to trash Obama and exalt Romney sufficiently to guarantee his victory. They're even blaming Romney for being "too moderate", the same criticism they lobbed at John McCain after the 2008 election. Anything and everything to avoid taking personal responsibility for the role they played in blowing it for the GOP in yet another presidential election.
Much like Karl Rove and his Crossroads GPS Super PAC, Fox News is going to have to answer for the terrible returns on the investment. However, unlike with Rove, it's not conservative billionaires who got shafted with a load of false promises and arrogant laziness, it was the poor, downtrodden white conservative male majority who got conned into thinking they were safe in their ivory towers and that they alone still had the numbers to beat back all those gays and browns and women who think for themselves to get their guys back in charge.
It's time to take some responsibility, Republicans. You can't just sit on your asses, feeling entitled to control of the country, and wait for government to hand it to you...