The Republican delusion that Mitt Romney had momentum and that the public would throw the Kenyan Socialist out of office has now officially ended. Romney has conceded—the GOP pity party will now commence, to be quickly followed by a truly epic civil war.
There are a lot of reasons why Romney couldn’t defeat an incumbent Democrat weakened by a bad economy, all of which deserve to be examined in a cool, logical way.
However, these days the Republican Party is anything but cool and logical. What promises to follow from this defeat is a torrential drama of recrimination, retaliation and ill will that will make the French Revolution look like the White Party. The two factions of the party—the party establishment and the Tea Party base—will be at each others throats.
Here are five attacks that you can count on in the coming weeks:
* Mitt Romney was insufficiently conservative. The Tea Party was always suspicious of Romney’s bona fides as a conservative. After all, he was governor of a liberal state and passed a health care law that became the template for Obamacare (a.k.a., the death of liberty). Romney might have called himself a “severe conservative” and tried to run far to the right of his opponents in the GOP primary, but then he shifted back to the middle in the general election. A real conservative would have won the election. Instead, the Republicans chose a shape-shifter. Didn’t they learn anything from John McCain?
* The campaign muzzled Paul Ryan. Ryan has an adoring fan base convinced that he is a brilliant thinker and the future of the Republican Party (if you think the future is shredding the social safety net and redistributing income upwards). But instead of unleashing him and letting the GOP ticket run a campaign of fresh ideas, Romney reined Ryan in and made him soften his bolder views. Romney lost the chance to make the campaign about the base’s idea of the future. Didn’t they learn anything from John McCain?
Of course, Ryan’s ideas poll so poorly that Romney would likely have lost by an even wider margin if he took that path.
* The GOP establishment foisted a bad candidate on the party. Romney was the choice of the GOP establishment. He had zero charisma, a wobbly set of principles and little connection with the rank and file. But the establishment lined up behind him as the best candidate. See McCain question above.
* The Tea Party has taken the party off the rails. The firebreathers in the rank and file are so far out of the mainstream that the party can never win as long as they’re calling the shots. The GOP establishment needs to find a way to harness the Tea Party’s energy while keeping them in check. The party can’t do without them, but they can’t have them calling the shots, either.
The hard line on immigration is killing the party. The party has alienated Latino voters, who are making up an increasingly large percentage of the electorate. The GOP can no longer rack up big margins among white voters—it needs to make inroads into the Latino community, which means it needs to revisit its hardcore opposition to immigration reform. As Sen. Lindsay Graham put it, “We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”
Photo by Gage Skidmore