Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Shifting Sands -- Why Republicans Lost in 2012

This is in response to my Facebook friend's inquiry.  So bear with me if it seems overly sweeping -- it is my humble attempt to respond to her, and I thought it easier to post as a general blog than to post as a Facebook "status update".  

The Republicans do embrace all people -- no matter their race or gender.  They believe that all people have inherent value and have equal rights to freedom and the pursuit of happiness.  They agree with the Declaration of Independence, in other words -- "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."  Republicans who deny God but are libertarian in belief, also believe in the human right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  Why did the Republicans lose, then, if they are such a welcoming party, embracing such a broad view, and more specifically, why did they lose among minorities and women?  

Theories abound.  Some think they lost because Romney was too moderate; he did not stand up against Obama, for example, regarding the Benghazi disaster in which our own president stood by while our American ambassador was murdered.  He was too moderate, because although he stated he would repeal Obamacare, Romney did not explain why it was wrong – and how it would lead to the ultimate loss of freedom and to an economic disaster for Americans.  Some friends, conservative, but more pessimistic than I, chose not to vote because they felt Romney, as a moderate Republican, was not conservative enough, and they believed a Republican would do little different than a Democrat in office.  

Other theories are that the Democrats played victim politics – and scared women into believing that Republicans wanted to take away their health care and, particularly, their birth control and abortions, although Romney stood for none of these goals. Ad campaigns tended to play on this scare tactic theory that Republicans hate women.  Then there’s the mantra from the Democrats that Republicans are racists – people believed that too, maybe.  I certainly heard someone at the polls on election-day grumble that Republicans hate Hispanics. It’s ironic that the Democrats have claimed to be non-racist, given history, but the tag “racist” sticks, proof or no proof.  There were the ads that tried to show that Romney cared for nobody and actually killed people.  Those ads may have worked, at least on some people.  There were the claims that Romney did not provide enough specifics, heard from the Democrats, particularly from Obama.  I heard friends making that claim.  It was bizarre, considering that Obama had no plan and that Romney did have specific plans (and Ryan, for that matter, could not have provided anything more specific than he did on economic policy).  Perhaps Romney did lose because he did not provide enough specifics in other areas: schools, immigration, foreign policy.  Others think Romney lost because the Democrats ran a smarter campaign -- targeting individuals with the issues they deemed important -- whether that was abortion, gay rights, Sesame Street, or health care.  

Why do I think they lost?  All those theories played a part.  I have my own theory: the public school system has relentlessly educated our children (starting with our generation – and instituted by our parents – the Baby Boomers) that the United States of America is not special; that Americans are bullies; that Americans are racists; that America is a country full of wrong-headed bigots who victimized swaths of people.  That the United States of America founders and subsequent American citizens never followed God, and even if they did, that God is a myth – believed in by simpletons, not by serious-minded smart folks. Because of the indoctrination by government schools, many Americans today have no interest, understanding or appreciation for the underlying principles of our nation, nor do they see how or why we should preserve these principles.  They don’t know or they don’t agree on what freedom means – that freedom is meant to be the freedom to live your own life as you see fit – and that government is there to protect you, not to provide for you, and that government is inherently dangerous to individuals and so must be limited.  They believe freedom means the freedom to be provided for -- by the government.  They don't see that reliance on the government by definition erases their individual freedom.  

I went to school and I was immersed in that education.  I see it in the public schools today – where comprehensive American history is not taught – only the history of American victims.  If you believe you are a victim or that people you know are victims and that the United States of America is a country fraught with errors, governed by bigots, and that the government is there to serve you or to make up for wrongs it committed against you, not protect you and allow you to make your own choices, then you will vote for someone who represents you.  I found the election disturbing because it made clear that a large group of Americans now believe the latter, not the former, about our country.  

Of course there have always been competing views within our country about the purpose of our government, but in recent years, the country has shifted so that more and more people no longer believe in the original definition of freedom.  I do not and will not fear the future, but I see darkness for a country with diminishing individual freedoms.  Government is not known for relinquishing power once attained.