A Conciliatory Note To Deflated Republicans

Republicans, I know you’re disheartened and that you can’t fathom that citizens voted for that dolt, Obama. I know you actually fear for your country’s future (because some of my conservative friends have said as much).

Don’t worry. This fellow, Obama, whom we re-elected is really a moderate Republican.

Yeah! Go figure.

Sure, I know that sounds a bit far-fetched. Barack Obama is a Democrat, after all. What you need to know is that — even though for five years, conservative politicians and media told you he was a raving socialist — Obama’s actions are that of a moderate Republican. His policies are the policies of a moderate Republican. Truth is that Obama stands where the GOP used to stand… you just forgot what that was like.

Fixing A Broken Economy Like A Republican

Yes, Obama began his presidency with bailouts, stimulus, and borrowing. Who started the bailouts? Republican George W. Bush. Bush knew that with the economy imploding, bailouts… necessary, spending stimulus… required, the stimulus of additional tax cuts… an absolute.

Once the economy started growing, Obama offered a $4-trillion debt reduction program cutting $3 to $6 of spending for every $1 in tax hikes. That’s a higher ratio of spending cuts to tax hikes than republicans were found wanting in a Gallup poll and far more than the ratio George H. W. Bush accepted in 1990.

During last year’s debt-ceiling talks, Obama proposed cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid in exchange for more revenue that didn’t even come from higher tax rates. Currently Obama is proposing to lower corporate tax rates, and Republicans are ranting that he cut too much from Medicare when Obamacare passed. Not much of a socialist!

Market-Based Approaches To Regulations

Yes, Obama imposed an individual mandate to buy health insurance. So did Governor Romney. Where did this provocative idea come from? The temple of free marketeer conservatism, The Heritage Foundation. Yes, it’s true that personal responsibility—requiring citizens to purchase private health insurance so the rest of us are not stuck with their bills for emergency rooms and hospitals—was a Republican idea.

Wall Street reform? Same. Republicans were not going to allow financial institutions to gamble with the nation’s money in schemes that would require us to bail them out again.

Obama’s cap-and-trade proposal mimicked the market-based emissions-control policies of the 1990 Bush administration and the 2008 McCain campaign. When the EPA proposed a new air-pollution limit last year, Obama betrayed environmentalists by halting the effort as it might jeopardize the recovery.

Strength Through Military Defense

Democrats derided George W. Bush’s troop surge in Iraq. Obama copied it in Afghanistan. Obama also found that he liked the use drones, too, and escalated the program. He sent Navy SEALS into Pakistan take out Bin Laden. He teamed up with NATO to remove Gaddafi. Obama failed to honor his pledge to close Guantanamo Bay. He put together a globally enforced regime of sanctions bringing Iran’s economy to a practical halt.

No sensible Republican president would have done things differently than Obama.

Now, you as a conservative might take issue with his Supreme Court justice appointments or his plans for immigration and the Bush tax cuts. It’s safe to say, then, that you likely would have had similar issues with republican presidents Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, and Gerald Ford. Obama operates like these fellows.

So don’t despair. Your country didn’t vote for a socialist on November 6th.

The country voted for the candidate of traditional Republican moderation. The problem is… that’s no longer your party. What should concern you, terrorize you, and lead you to think about the future of your party is that Obama wasn’t your party’s candidate.

ON THE OTHER HAND…

Truthout — Why Mitt Lost: He couldn’t separate himself from the Republican Party’s growing extremism.

What ought to pain Republicans most about Barack Obama’s victory is that 2012 was entirely winnable for them. Economic conditions in the United States — where an unemployment rate of 8 percent is highly correlated with trouncing of the incumbent party — pointed to Obama’s certain defeat.

Moreover, Obama himself had proven a disappointment to many of his supporters — like me, an actual liberal — going from an adored symbol of generational and social change in 2008 to a detached, distant, and remote figure with limited ability to touch an emotional chord and lead the nation to “Real Change.”

That Mitt Romney lost nonetheless is, indeed, attributable to his own weaknesses as a candidate — Romney was on the defensive early about Bain Capital and making money by shipping jobs oversees and shutting down US businesses, and he never could escape it.

And, yes, the Republican nominee committed multiple and horrendous gaffes. Plus, he organized a horrible, chaotic GOP convention. He never found a way to talk about himself or his agenda such that middle-class voters could buy into. He never made clear sense of any of his plans.

Still, even an awkward candidate might have beaten Obama if not for one element: the GOP’s growing extremism.

The Republican strategy of making the election a referendum on the president’s handling of the economy was perfectly sound. The problem was that the Republican Party couldn’t pass the sanity test itself. For many voters disenchanted with Obama, it still was not safe to vote for his opponent.

Simply look at how the nomination process was dominated by candidates with views far outside the mainstream.

  • Rick Santorum rejected the separation of church and state.
  • Newt Gingrich challenged the notion of judicial supremacy.
  • Michele Bachmann claimed the government had been infiltrated by radical Muslims.
  • Donald Trump refused to recognize the validity of Obama’s birth certificate.
  • Rick Perry wanted to take down more parts of the federal government than he could successfully name.

In the debates, the country saw the GOP sounding like a bizarre fringe party, not a responsible and sane governing one.

Romney is not a right-wing extremist, but in order to win the nomination, he feigned being one — appearing to embrace extremism and relinquishing the reasonableness that made him a successful, moderate governor of the nation’s most liberal state. Romney had to gain acceptance of his party’s right-wing on taxes, immigration, climate change, abortion, and denial of gay rights.

Many of his statements on these issues were notably insincere, and this insincerity and flexibility (let’s call it “flip-flopping”) made it highly unlikely that he would stand up against the GOP’s hyper-partisan congressional extremists once elected.

Even though he should have ignored the right wing because they had no where else to go, fear that the radicals would sabotage his campaign kept Romney from tacking to the center once he had secured the nomination. That fear motivated his running-mate selection of Paul Ryan, a popular figure with the Tea Party radicals.

When Romney tried eventually to move to the center, Republican Senate candidates, like Todd Akin in Missouri and Richard Mourdock in Indiana, kept spewing disgusting reminders of the GOP’s retrograde views on gender issues. For women, Latinos, and young voters considering abandoning Obama, the “real” Romney might have been a plausible alternative. The “candidate” Romney was too risky a choice. According to exit poll results, Romney lost among women by 11 points—too large a gender gap to be overcome.

Demographic change and better economic circumstances stand to make the Republican road back to the White House an even steeper climb in future years. Simply put, the party has to present a more conciliatory and reasonable face to sell itself to swing voters. To do that, it must take on moderate voices, ostracize its theocrats, and liberate itself from the dictatorship of the Tea Party Taliban.


3 responses to “A Conciliatory Note To Deflated Republicans

  • reasoningpolitics

    This article is excellent. I have argued myself that Obama is a moderate republican, probably not by temperament, but by governing style.

    I also think you were pretty spot on with diagnosing Romney’s loss. I hope more moderate and sane voices can prevail in the GOP’s future. We do need them for this whole thing to work, don’t we?

    Anyway, I write a lot about making the GOP more moderate, and just posted David Brook’s new column. Have you read it yet? He talks about new breeds of conservative thinkers who are emerging after the election.

    I look forward to following your blog.

    • Coronare Modestus Faust

      Thank you for your thoughts and kind words. Yes, I read Brook’s column, and it’s an interesting take. I recall Obama stating a few weeks before the election that his re-election would incite a revolution within the Republican Party. Whether it happens or not, such a revolution needs desperately to occur in the party if they wish to be relevant in the coming decade. Nearly all the demographics have turned against the Republicans and what they now stand for (or, at least, “how” they stand for their cause). So, it should be an interesting war to watch. The old guard will dig in their heals and resist; question is how much will the coming vanguard assert themselves. We already see Rove and the like attempting to justify their completely skewed and inaccurate views and advice. And, frankly, if the party believes the likes of Paul Ryan should be their face man, I believe they will continue to fail. For all his perceived telegenic handsomeness, Ryan simply comes across as cold, arrogant, and calculating… which really boils down to hard-right republicanism that failed without the emotional hyperbole. I don’t think an electorate feeling emotionally and economically vulnerable — especially newly empowered women and ethnic minorities relishing their new influence — will fall in love with a cold headmaster. And, catering to angry white males won’t work. BTW, a quick look at your blog proved very interesting… I’ll be visiting quite often.

      • reasoningpolitics

        Thank you so much. I think your analysis of the party is spot on.

        A note on my blog: I don’t agree with everything I post. I typically try to post my opinions along with the best arguments against my poisitons. I feel that keeps me from getting too full of myself (or too certain). Thanks again for looking.

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