IN deference to my sanity and my blood pressure, the latter of which has been trending astronomic in the last few weeks, I refused to watch the election returns last night even though I still expected, post-Sandy, that Mr. Romney would hang on for the win and Republicans would gain a few seats in the Senate. Alas, at about 9pm, I spun past NPR on my way to a music station and caught the news that, with 87% of Florida precincts counted, President Obama was up by 40,000. I did the math in my head, gritted my teeth, and retreated to bed.
Both camps – Obama's and Romney's – had expected Mr. Romney to win in Florida. For things to go so wrong there pointed to the possibility, previously unimaginable, that Republican turnout might be low. And so it was, even though pre-election polls showed a trend toward Republican party-identification. John McCain's flakiest child tweeted today that, if Republicans continue to refer to people like her as ‘RINOs’ – Republicans in Name Only – they'll continue to lose presidential elections. But I wonder, aloud: How have the last two establishment-favorite, RINO ‘Republican’ candidates done? It appears that there's a major flaw in Miss McCain's hypothesis!
What Republicans need is more enthusiasm, a bit more circumspection, and a candidate who can communicate effectively, which means that we don't need more people like Romney, McCain, and Miss McCain! American ‘conservatives’ (the term is misleading, but that's another fight) are trust-voters, principled people for whom trust is a major issue; a candidate who can't be trusted to act sensibly – John McCain was often foolish, twitchy, and even irrational on domestic policy, and a cranky, stubborn SOB to boot (which doesn't do much to recommend him on foreign policy, either!), and Mr. Romney seems to have a political weathervane implanted just below centerline – is a tough sell. We've seen the electoral results: In 2008, Republican turnout, surely reflecting conservative displeasure with the alternatives, was lousy and, in the absence of a tolerable alternative, many of those who did vote allowed themselves to become enchanted by the stardust that was Barack Obama. By 2010, the thrill was gone (poor Chris Matthews!) and Republicans turned out for the mid-term election, handing the Democrats a record Tea-Party thumping. Somehow encouraged by this, the Republican establishment gave us Mr. Romney (not that Newt Gingrich or, probably, Michele Bachmann would have been an improvement) who proceeded to draw even fewer votes than did Mr. McCain in 2008, the shortage redounding even to sure-thing candidates down the ballot. Chew on that for a bit!
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But if anyone, ostensibly ‘conservative’, tells me that he just couldn't vote for Mr. Romney so he didn't vote at all, I'll punch him in the mouth. I can (almost) understand voting for a third-party candidate for president in order to retain the right to vote for other (down-the-ballot) candidates and on other issues – this is what I mean by ‘circumspection’ – but to refuse absolutely is contemptible. With all that was at stake, including Obamacare, the Supreme Court, the U.S. Senate, and, in Minnesota, an excellent constitutional amendment to require photo IDs at the polls, to refuse to vote was irresponsible, self-defeating, and – let's not mince words – stupid. Such is not the behavior of a competent adult.
By the way, how's the anti-ID argument, that voter-identity fraud is negligible, doing in the aftermath of yesterday's fraud-riddled election? Well done, Republican non-voters! You have not been helpful.