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What Should We Learn from the Election?

Regis Nicoll
Regis Nicoll
2012 27 Nov

I was wrong. Terribly wrong.

Up until the night of the Presidential election, I was telling people that Mitt Romney was going to win, and win big. I reasoned that the things going for Barack Obama in 2008—the historical significance of the first African-American president, a Republican ticket that failed to gain traction beyond the base, growing dissatisfaction with the Bush administration (call it “Bush Fatigue”), and the promise of “change” from an unknown but charismatic and oratorically gifted Chicago politician—were not in his favor this time around.

Instead, there was a lingering recession, mounting national debt, increased deficient spending, and record levels of unemployment and joblessness that could only be defended with “it could’ve been worse.”

Then there were actions that were clearly against a center-right country: an “evolved” position on same-sex “marriage”; repeal of the military’s “don’t ask don’t tell” policy; doubling down on the support of Planned Parenthood and reproductive “rights”; and the vastly unpopular signature accomplishment, Obamacare.

Added to that, were the misadventures of Solyndra-Gate and “Fast and Furious” and a swirl of troubling questions over the Benghazi tragedy.

But in the end, none of that mattered—or, at least, mattered enough to enough people.

A time of reflection

Since the election, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, asking myself how I could have been so wrong. I’ve listened to pundits of diverse leanings explain (or excuse) the outcome.

One of them, Karl Rove, has put the blame on no less than 19 factors: everything from Hurricane Sandy to campaign spending. Others have attributed it to Governor Romney’s flip-flopping on social issues and health care, his “47%” comment, his inability to articulate his message to the middle class, and his Party’s failure to reach out to Latinos, blacks, women, and young adults.

No doubt each of these had some effect on the election, but I’m not convinced that, collectively, they were sufficient to account for the outcome. Instead, as I thought back over past elections in recent decades, something occurred to me that should have been clear all along. Continue reading here. Continue reading here.