First, I do not believe either the candidate (Romney) or his Veep pick (Ryan) are the issue. Around mid-August we heard that his sons had told the political operatives running his campaign to stop trying to hide their father, and the revealed Romney was a sight to see. It was at that point that people began getting excited. Unfortunately, by that point it was also probably too late.
For the campaign itself, more of the blame lies with the man-handlers of the Republican party leadership who have these archaic and too-careful views of what does and does not sell here in America. The Republican party leadership needs to be up-ended, shaken out, and taken in fresh. I don’t necessarily mean taken in Conservative. I mean fresh, new, people who are honest and real, whatever they believe. The breadth of viewpoints is important, as it guarantees a wide range of ideas and solutions and a generally higher level of brilliance than the tired and decrepit losers we have now.
Romney himself did admirably against heavy odds. He remained a gentleman and a man of honor who obviously loved his wife, was obviously capable of the job he sought, and held himself above the fray in a way that was inspiring and Presidential without being haughty or snooty. Ryan was an inspired pick that I couldn’t have hoped for. He didn’t have the political finesse of the seasoned Biden, but he generally remembered what city he was in, and didn’t have a knack for saying the most inappropriate thing at the most inopportune moment. And he was a capable individual to be a heartbeat away from the presidency.
Second, there are two obvious trains of thought coming out of this election for Conservatives. The “it’s all over, the country has shifted, and we have to get used to being the opposition party that is shafted and ignored for the rest of our lives”, and the “hey, it’s just an election, yea this one sucked particularly badly, but there’s always tomorrow and we just have a bigger job than we thought we did yesterday”.
I tend to subscribe to the latter argument rather than the former, but I recognize some of the serious implications of those who are making the former. The people of America chose the path of Greece, of the PIGS of Europe, of endless debt, with the bigger issue that there are few who are willing or even capable of bailing us out. And that’s not all. From a friend of mine:
Four years ago, if I was the type of person who believed birth control was wrong, I could simply not use it. Now I am legally obligated to pay for other people to do so.
Four years ago, it was perfectly acceptable to for me to refuse to provide my professional services in support of an event with which I disagreed. Now, doing so might get me sued.
Four years ago, the government was not in the business of engaging in character assassination of private citizens. Now the full weight of the Presidential bully pulpit has been leveraged to attack Rush Limbaugh, Charles and David Koch, Sheldon Adelson, and others by name. Meanwhile, the Senate majority leader, in violation of Senate rules, took to the floor of the chamber and gave what was essentially a campaign speech, accusing the other party’s candidate of committing felony tax fraud without a shred of evidence. The nation, collectively, shrugged.
Four years ago, I lived in a country which had just overwhelmingly elected a black man to the White House for the first time and was joyously celebrating another step closer to Martin Luther King Jr’s dream that we might all one day be judged not by the color of our skin, but by the content of our character. This morning I woke up in a country where the hashtag #fuckwhitepeople was trending on Twitter.
There’s more where that came from. Go read the whole thing. It’s sobering and lays out very clearly some of the more momentous changes we’ve just seen.
But I also don’t give up hope. I’m an optimist. Sue me.
Can I offer you folks some perspective from a Canadian viewpoint?
Up here in Canuckistan we had virtually unrivaled Liberal rule for decades, and conservatives could see no hope of any end to it. The public, we feared, would always vote for more free goodies and handouts. Yet today we have a Conservative government, while the all-powerful Liberals have been reduced to a pitiful rump.
As Mark Steyn says, Progressives are fond of telling you that the “tide has turned”, but they never take into account that the tide that comes in goes out again. Food for thought.
In other words, life goes on. We lost big. There are many good reasons we lost. It does us good to consider them thoughtfully, and then, rather than dwelling on them, dwell instead on what it’ll take to fix them, prevent them.
In the run-up to the election, as we conservatives gained excitement over what we thought were good numbers pointing to a probable win, we talked a lot on Facebook and Twitter. But we mostly engaged with other conservatives, people of like mind. It was as much an echo chamber in the depths of conservatism as it is in the hallowed halls of academia, the media, and extreme leftists. Did we go out and engage with our friends, as they say it, IRL? Did we communicate with the young people the enormity of the fiscal mess? Did we counter the claims made by the despicable Villagairosa that Republicans want to end the Voting Rights Act (which we passed in the first place over the screams of the racist Democrats and their KKK supporters)? Did we show just how stupid the idea that conservatives want to role back rights of anybody is?
Which brings up a final point. Even though we have hope, we also have work. We have been successfully demonized. Significant numbers of women have been convinced that Republicans are not only against government paying for their contraceptives, but that we are also against them voting. Significant numbers of black Americans now think Republicans do not want them participating in civic duties and the rights of the citizenry. These are lies, and you and I know they are. But there are mouthbreathers in the media who have made these claims (I’m look at you “Tingles” Matthews) and hacks in politics (I’m looking at you “Ignore my city’s issues” Villagairosa) who make these claims without anybody standing up and calling them on the horrible things they are saying.
We need to stand up and actively counter these and other lies about us. Too many liberals and leftists think we are a tiny minority, and perhaps we are, but allowing them to go their whole lives without meeting a competent, friendly, happy conservative who knows what they believes, is reasonable and rational, just makes our task harder. Talk politics at work, but in a way that is constructive, with lots of give and take. If you have to start by letting them do most of the talking, the long game makes that worthwhile.
Ask leading questions on your social feed. Don’t necessarily come out with a party-line answer, but try and lead people around thinking about issues in a conservative fashion.
We know conservative values are popular. The huge success of the Lord of the Rings and Batman franchises, just to name two, indicate that it is an intense attractive philosophy.
We just have to show it work in the real world too. And then we need to live our lives as embodiments of conservative principles, and show by our success and happiness and fulfillment, the joy of our lives, that we, truly, have the better way of life.