I don’t know about you, but I can’t seem to shake this election hangover.
I know it’s already been a month since the big day, but no matter what I do, I can’t seem to get rid of this headache and sense of queasiness.
I’ve had lots of water, eaten some greasy food, gotten some fresh air, popped a few aspirin, took some B12, been sleeping as much as possible and even took some Alka-Seltzer, but nothing seems to be working.
The only thing left is a little hair of the dog that bit me, but I’m not entirely sure my stomach can take that either.
The recent election was such a dark bender – a real belligerent type of drunk – that I am just not ready to get back on that horse. This was the kind of campaign season that makes the most ardent political junkies think about kicking.
But it seems like a lot of people have chosen the hair of the dog method. Most talking heads – and cable news these days is apparently ALL talking heads (and not the good, David Byrne kind) – have spent the month dissecting what went wrong for Mitt Romney and what it means going forward for the Republican party.
The simple diagnosis appears to be demographics. The electorate was younger and less white than the Romney campaign expected and that did them in.
But simply blaming the changing demographics ignores the policies and goals of the Republican Party which don’t seem in tune with the majority of the country.
Which, really, anyone watching the entire election – from primaries through November – could see. The Republican party spent the entire spring trying to run as far and as fast to the right as they could, because those are the people who vote in Republican primaries, despite all polling showing the general electorate not buying it.
It was part of the “epistemic closure” of the Republican Party, a term that means a closed circle of philosophy and views that refuses to let in any empirical evidence that refutes the bearer’s philosophy.
Now that’s not my idea. For the record, I learned about it in an article in The American Conservative magazine, written by an economist who worked for the Reagan and first Bush administrations. It’s a good piece and I recommend it.
But I think, primarily, the reason the Republicans lost is because they treated the electorate like we were stupid. To believe much of what was coming out of the Romney campaign, you had to believe what they were telling you and not your own lying eyes.
Not only that, Gov. Romney never once put forward any hard plans on how to close the deficit - except cutting PBS - but asked us to trust him, he had a secret plan.
And that was his entire campaign. Seriously.
As a student of history, it reminded me much of Nixon’s “secret plan” to end the war in Vietnam. Now, to be fair, he did end the war…six years later. And I am not sure we could wait that long for Gov. Romney’s secret plans to kick in.
On top of that, in a single debate, Gov. Romney spent the time telling us that as president he’d create 12 million jobs and then ended by forcefully rebutting the president by saying, “Government can’t create jobs.”
Huh? It can’t be both.
Then there were the social issues, speaking of being out of touch with the electorate….
But Gov. Romney should have been an excellent candidate. He is a successful businessman who became the Republican governor of an extremely Democratic state and gained national prominence through his stewardship of the 2002 Winter Olympics.
And have you seen that hair? Should be a lock.
Until, of course, the national party got hold of him and forced him to basically abandon any and all of his moderate positions. It’s the same national party that suddenly, after years of the same people voting for wars and government entitlement program expansion paid for entirely by borrowed money, are now deficit hawks. Vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan, I am looking at you.
Voters notice those things.
The problem with the national party was very apparent here in Washington, where Rob McKenna – despite being a very popular statewide politician with, generally speaking, moderate views - lost to Standard Seattle Cookie Cutter Democrat No. 4.
By all rights, McKenna should have won this election. But the “R” after his name proved difficult to get around on the blue side of the state.
Knowing the national party’s positions would be untenable to most thinking voters, the national Big Money groups supporting Democrat Jay Inslee ran commercial after commercial tying McKenna to national Republican positions – positions the commercial (if you listened careful) didn’t even say he shared.
Now, we should not discount McKenna’s decision as attorney general to challenge the Affordable Care Act, which is and always had been quite popular in this state. That not only wasted money but put him at odds with a majority of the electorate.
Then there were his terrible commercials, which again treated me like I was dumb enough to believe the problem in getting more funding for schools was somehow the Democratic governor and not the Republican senate and that’s he’d magically fix it.
But still, I think the biggest problem was the “R” baggage McKenna carried.
So here we are, a month later, finally getting back to try and fix this whole (terribly named) “fiscal cliff” can the current congress kicked down the road to this moment.
It used to be that when an election ended, the losing side would, generally speaking, recognize the will of the people and get on board with the agenda of the victor and work to make that agenda as palatable as possible to their side.
But this is not happening this time around.
Instead of recognizing that whether they like it or not, the people have spoken and have approved the president’s plan for the budget and deficit – it was the main issue in his presidential campaign, after all – the Republicans have again decided to continue the permanent campaign and fight battles I thought we finished fighting a month ago.
Again, an example of epistemic closure.
And this is a big problem, not just for the Republicans, but for our state and country. We need a rational dissenting voice and right now we don’t have one.
Which is too bad, we need that.
But if nothing else, can we keep the campaign bombast keep it down for a bit? Some of us are still trying to recover...
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