Give Mitt Romney’s team its due: organized, focused, well executed with an aim to win. There are a dozen reasons he should have won, and one reason he lost: the Republican Party. Going forward, there is one political party with a grand opportunity: that would be the Republican Party.
Ohio had not yet been declared by Fox News, before its commentators began sputtering. All the talking points of the GOP message machine – buttressed by billions of dollars of dark money from corporate America and its totemic leaders, the Koch Brothers, and the media empire of Rupert Murdoch – had failed with a majority of American voters.
The Fox News anchors struggled for a story line, without their back room helpers. And there, on the set, was Karl Rove, GOP architect, clinging to hope and expressing it clearly -- that if Fox News held out and stonewalled declaring Ohio that something would materialize to arrest Ohio’s slide to President Obama. He didn’t say so, but it was there in his body language: a rich man who had cost the nation trillions through the Bush term failures and had now cost his patrons, billions. It was all there on live TV.
The pitchfork politics of the Republican Party hit the ceiling with the American electorate last night. There were no more voters yesterday and will be no more voters in the next presidential cycle to bring to the fold. Charles Krauthammer, on Fox, instantly offered hope that the Republican Party would fall to the new generation of leaders, like Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio. A pipe dream, but a revealing one.
The younger generation has been propelled by the same extremists – including Jeb Bush and Newt Gingrich – that only generate support among a dwindling demographic drawn to the polls by fear and loathing.
In 1964 Barry Goldwater won the Republican nomination to be president, articulating the the principle that has animated the GOP for nearly fifty years: “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.” Then, Goldwater's message appealed mainly to John Birchers. Today the John Birchers, reformatted as the Tea Party and supported by special interest billions, control the Republican Party. Senate losses in Indiana and Missouri—Mourdock and Aiken – despite the infusion of untold millions by the radical right, tell the story. (click, 'read more')
What is interesting is that the radicals – including the young lions like Marco Rubio – reverentially point to Ronald Reagan and not Goldwater. But times have changed. Not even Reagan could have made it through the freak show of the Republican primary which Mitt Romney eventually won by repudiating every one of his moderate positions when he was governor of Massachusetts. “I’m a severe conservative”, Romney assured his base and lost.
Mitt Romney, pushed and pulled by right wing radicals, defaulted to his nature: a careful businessman who treated the campaign as a marketing project. American voters really did make an extraordinary decision: despite the worst economy since the Great Depression, they preferred to stick with President Obama who says what he means and means what he says, even if circumstances ought to have denied him a second term.
The GOP faces two choices: either put distance between officials and candidates who represent the extremist wing of the party, thereby gaining new traction with American voters, or allow the party to splinter. Doing the same in 2016 – following the Fox News gang and its mean spirited billionaires -- and expecting a different result is the definition of madness. Republicans, in other words, can’t spend more billions to change the outcome.
Last night, in those opening minutes of incredulity, this is what we heard from Fox: Sixty percent of the electorate believe the economy is the top issue, and yet Mitt Romney – the putative leader of corporate America – could not muster enough votes to win. Republicans did a dismal job with blacks and Latinos. How do you explain the president is holding on? Latino vote. “Republicans are looking all the way backwards to another century.”
In his concession speech, GOP Florida Senate candidate Connie Mack was at loss for words until he grabbed this one from the stupefied air, “We may have lost the battle but we haven’t lost the war.” That’s exactly the talk that dooms the Republican Party. If the party leadership wants to wage perpetual war -- the Mitch McConnell way -- they will continue to lose national elections.
Sheldon Adelson—who spent at least $50 million on Newt Gingrich and then Romney – may have bottomless pockets. The Koch Brothers, at the center of the Republican debacle last night, are wealthy beyond imagination. Corporate America may have a bottomless capacity to “tax” consumers by directing profits through political campaigns to the radical right. Perhaps paralysis and gridlock is their end game. It could be. It could be the aim of America’s wealthiest to foment partisanship beyond credulity in order to pillage and plunder the national economy until the middle class is vanquished and the whole lot plunges into a depression.
But if that is the Republican plan -- guided by the same "experts" and elected Republicans who have cost the nation so dearly, the outcome in 2014 or 2016 will not be different. Opportunity knocks for the GOP, but not through the same door, elected officials and candidates, that closed last night.