Forgive my ignorance, but what's all this about U.S. election results forecasting the downfall of the Republican Party? Four years ago, the GOP lost with 45-and-a-half per cent of the popular vote and 173 electoral votes; Tuesday, the GOP lost with north of 48 per cent of the popular vote and 206 electoral votes. To me, that indicates the party, and all it stands for, is more popular now than it was last time around, not less.
A loss is a loss, of course, and this one stings a bit more since it was a winnable election for the righties (meaning, they had a chance and didn't make the best of it, not that they threw away an easy victory). But this is not the Republican end of days, only a setback -- and a fairly minor one at that.
The lesson from this election for the Republicans is not that the party has to get less bats--t insane about religion and abortion because America has changed. No, the country is still populated by tons of Bible-thumpers who think abortion is a worse crime than rape, and a lot of other people who don't think that but believe in small government and lower taxes and would be willing to hold their noses on the religious stuff and vote for the Republicans. The lesson for the Republicans is that election success starts and ends with your presidential candidate -- and Mitt Romney was the wrong guy for the job.
From the start of this I said Mitt Romney couldn't possibly win. To me, the proof was there in fairly recent history, the 2004 election, when the story was basically same -- a reeling incumbent president facing an angry electorate -- the only difference being the roles were reversed. And yet the Democrats flubbed a golden opportunity to evict George W. Bush from the White House the moment they nominated John Kerry, a man who was Mitt Romney before Mitt Romney was Mitt Romney -- a flip-flopping, super-white, old, no-personality rich guy. Kerry lost -- to a dumbass president nearly everyone hated, no less -- because he couldn't connect with voters. If anything, the Democrats in 2004 failed more spectacularly than the Republicans in 2012.
This election came down, as most do, to leadership. It's really that simple -- the reason the Republicans lost was Americans saw Mitt Romney as a less viable leader than Barack Obama, even given the latter's less-than-stellar first term. Sure, Todd Akin and Richard Mourdoch hurt Mitt Romney, but not as much as Mitt Romney hurt the Republicans. They came close this time, closer than they probably should have with such a terrible leader; they can win next time with basically the same ideology (they should probably pay more attention to minorities though) and the right candidate.
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Republicans and Democrats are both already searching for the right nominee for 2016. Here are a few suggestions for what they should be looking for:
Youth: The legacy of Barack Obama's presidency won't be that he was the first black president -- in the long run, the fact he is black won't stand for much because the demographic change in America will mean both parties will have more non-white candidates by default -- it will be that he was a rather young president and, more importantly, that he gave off the impression of youth. Young people have shown themselves to be an essential tool in a winning campaign, not only in terms of votes but in turning a political competitor into a pop culture phenomenon (via incessant, very, very annoying Facebook posting and Tweets). This will only prove more so in coming elections.
A woman would be nice: Remember the splash the Republicans made in August 2008 when they introduced Sarah Palin as John McCain's running mate? Granted the experiment went South fast and now she's a national joke, but at the beginning there was tons of positivity about her introduction. People -- women obviously, but also a lot of men -- were excited by the idea of a woman vice-president. There are a lot of good female options out there, and it's about time America had a woman running the White House.
Honesty: Voters can smell a flip-flopper a mile away, but more fundamentally people are drawn to other people who are comfortable in their own skin. Romney never appeared to be so -- he was constantly trying to play himself off as something he wasn't, and he was just terrible at it. Yes, every presidential candidate must play to a larger base, but if they lose sight of who they actually are and try to hide what they really believe in, voters will turn off. Clarity is an underrated political characteristic.
Minorities: The Democrats have already played their race card with great success. The Republicans haven't. Given the growing sway of minorities, I'd expect they'll try to in four years, possibly with the man who was smart enough to stay out of the race this cycle, Marco Rubio. Unless they nominate a woman... which would cause Democrats' heads to explode.
Humanness: Another Romney failure. An automaton simply cannot win an election (at least not yet), and anyways no one would choose a robot president unless they had to because only robots were running. The two presidents previous to Obama had tons of personality and real human failures -- they were flawed, they knew it and they didn't care. In fact, they reveled in it (Clinton still does, and he's more popular than ever). I think it's fair to say Mitt Romney has no personality -- that's not his fault necessarily, but it's a fact -- and that he is unaware of any faults he may have.
A Uniter: To their credit, Romney and especially Obama made points of reaching out to the other side in their respective early-Wednesday morning speeches. I think there are a lot of votes to be had for a candidate willing to disavow him or herself of the partisanship that has overrun American politics, because as the economy improves people are going to generally be in better moods instead of worrying all the time and that means they'll be more inclined to live and let live, more willing to share ideas instead of bash each other over the head. A uniter will win votes.
This was a horrible election, and the main reason for that is it was contested by two pretty horrible candidates -- and the reason it got so ugly and negative was because no one had anyone to get behind so the only thing to do was try to decimate the other side. But of those two horrible candidates Mitt Romney was the horribler one. He had none of the characteristics of a successful president -- he stood for nothing, he offered nothing, he inspired nothing. He was just nothing, and nothing won't win you anything. The Republican movement didn't lose this election, so much as it didn't win. Mitt Romney, on the other hand, he's just a loser.