THE SITUATION: Republicans are fond (well, maybe not any more) of comparing President Obama to Jimmy Carter. That's fine, as far as that goes, in fact, I think with Carter's rehabilitated reputation in recent years neither would object to the comparison, except that it was meant to evoke the specter of the last one-term Democratic President. Obama may have been similar to Carter, but man oh man was Romney no Reagan. People voted FOR Ronald Reagan. So much so that they still to this day talk about "Reagan Democrats." He was charismatic. Shit, he was a famous actor. And clever with a quip and maybe not a policy genius exactly, but no policy slouch, and a quick quip would cover up any ignorance on the matter. Romney is a lot more like Bob Dole, or (maybe an unfair comparison) Michael Dukakis, but most especially and in such intriguing contrast, he is most like John Kerry.
This is an interesting one, because this is something that the left learned in 2004, but I think now the right will have to grudgingly learn this lesson as well. In 2004, what I knew about politics could fit into a matchbook without taking the matches out first. But I was in the army and President Bush had already started two wars, and I knew damn well I didn’t want to spend the next four plus years of my life constantly deployed to Third World shitholes. I think (I don’t know, but I think) that John Kerry would have pulled the plug on both Iraq and Afghanistan before they became the bottomless quagmires of corpses and money that they ultimately became.
And I wasn’t the only one that detested Bush. Everybody seemed to detest Bush in all of my circles. So, not knowing anything more about politics than “everyone I know hates President Bush” I assumed the 2004 election was going to be a landslide. And the Democrats seemed to believe that, too! (I say “the Democrats” not “we Democrats” because I’m not a Democrat myself - I’m Unaffiliated, which is what most other states call Independent.)
Here’s what the problem was, though: John Kerry was an empty suit. He was the least not awful choice. He seemed to have been chosen mostly on the (unfortunately) outdated principle that politicians must be veterans to win the presidency. John Kerry was the only high-ranking vet the Dems had, so, bob’s your uncle, he was the nominee. And then he just had no policy issues and basically trumpeted the idea for six months that he wasn’t George W. Bush.
Good enough for me. Good enough for about 48% of the electorate. But here’s the problem: that little 5-10% of the electorate in the middle there, that group that actually swings the elections because they’re proper Independent voters, not lefty lunatics like me, they never vote against someone. They always vote for someone. And they weren’t interested in voting for Kerry, so they picked Bush.
2012 was the same thing writ in reverse. Again, as I prefaced this article, it may take conservatives a year or two to see this, but Mitt Romney was also an empty suit. Worse than an empty suit, really, as far as I can tell his only real asset was his good looks (for an elderly man.) I can’ tell you how many times a Republican tried to justify Mitt’s candidacy to me by saying, “But he looks so presidential!” Ignoring the racist undertones of that, I gather that they said that because there was nothing substantive to the man. He flip-flopped in ways that made John Kerry look like a conscientious bulwark.
What conservatives were counting on was that people would vote AGAINST Obama. They didn’t give two shits about who they were running. I mean, they did, but ultimately the only thing that recommended Mitt Romney was that he was the only not-a-complete-clown in the primaries. And the conservatives of six months ago hated him as much as I suppose the conservatives of two years from now, ideally, reading this article also will. They never thought he was a strong candidate. They just thought that Romney, like liberals thought about Kerry in 2004, would win by dint of not being the other guy.
Think I’m exaggerating? Okay, now, be honest. How many times have you seen some variation of Nobama 2012, a crossed out O, or a fake ballot with “Anyone But Obama” on Facebook, bumper stickers, Twitter, and just in general conversation in the last four years? That’s not a coincidence. Conservatives weren’t ginning up Mitt Romney for the last half of the decade. They were ginning up Chris Christie sometimes, and Marco Rubio, and even Bobby Jindal before his unfortunate heresies, but never any special savior. Just the anti-Obama, whoever that happened to pan out to be.
WHY IS THIS BETTER FOR THE NATION: So I hope that this means we will see a better class of candidate in the future! Men and women of backbone. I mean, it’s not like I would have liked to have seen Rick Santorum run, but at least he would have stood for something. I think that now that the left and the right have had their disappointments with “vote for me, I’m not the other guy” we can move on to the politics of “vote for me because…”
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Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."
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