Saturday, November 10, 2012

What If Romney Won?

Last Tuesday, President Obama lost Ohio, Colorado, Virginia, and Florida, and will not be re-elected to a second term.

Let the accusations and recriminations begin.  The President did not have a plan for bringing this Country out of a recession.  He proved unable to work with a Republican majority in the House, and therefore was unable to an effective Executive.

Personally, I believe the biggest reason President Obama lost was because he wasted the political momentum and "mandate" from the 2008 election on a Health Care bill when he should have used it to put our fiscal house in order.  Presumably, if he had successfully maneuvered a budget deal through his majorities in both Houses and addressed the debt, he may have maintained that Democratic majority throughout his first term.  They would not have unilaterally passed an unpopular health care bill at 11:00 pm, and the Tea Party may have continued to be a fringe movement.  But for the Town Hall meetings across the Country after the Health Care bill, the Tea Party would have been without a catalyst and Glenn Beck would have a harder time saying that the government is trying to take over your life. 

In the last months of the campaign, Mitt Romney was able to paint himself as someone capable of reaching across party lines.  "Moderate Mitt" paved the road to the White House, which played further into the narrative of "We gave Obama a chance, its time to try something new."  We will soon learn what tax reform means, but it can be presumed that many of the most treasured deductions and exemptions will have to go. This is probably all for the best.  Tax rates on the rich are seemingly irrelevant.  One of the advantages of being rich is that you can pay professionals to lower taxable income in such a way that you essentially create a separate scheme altogether.  Rather than sit on the defensive, Mitt Romney used the second debate to show that yes, he paid 14% in income taxes, but here's why that needs to change.  He promised that under his tax plan, he would have no choice but to pay at least 30% of his income in taxes, despite all the accountants and tax lawyers in the world.  It was communicated brilliantly and had true resonance with voters.

Foreign policy ended up being our October surprise.  Mitt Romney left his accusations regarding who knew what to the cable networks, and pounced on the fact that four Americans died on foreign soil, in an unstable Country, without any coherent policy towards the emerging governments in the Middle East.  At the third debate, he compared and contrasted the President's relationship with dictators and democracies, showing that there was no congruence or predictability in how the United States would respond.  Most interesting was Romney's promise to end rendition, a tactic that has continued since the Bush Administration with very little discussion in the press.  This started a brush fire on President Obama's left flank that he did not expect, and was ill-prepared to respond to.

It is unclear where the Democratic party goes from here.  For all of their successes, one may wonder if they are pushing for too much too soon.  Conservative attitudes amongst certain segments of the immigrant population in Virginia, Florida, and Colorado supplemented an overwhelming white majority in voting for Mitt Romney.  And this was without a coherent immigration policy on the right.  One can assume that this will be a high level objective of the Romney administration to solidify their gains and lock down a second term.

Congratulations to Republicans.  It looks like you have many successful years before you.  Democrats have plenty of time to think "What If?"