I was truly shocked after this year’s Presidential election. Stunned. Crushed. Depressed. To me, the choice was clear, and I seriously thought that the vast majority of Americans would have selected Mitt Romney. But they didn’t. Instead, more than half of this country chose a different path. Why? I think the right messages got the wrong priority, and fears were elevated above rational policy debate.
Romney focused the majority of his campaign on the economy, specifically jobs. The nomination of Paul Ryan for Vice President ensured a Romney administration would also address the unsustainable path of federal spending. This would mean thoughts on the proper role of government in our lives would also be included in the national discussion. I thought for sure, Americans saw the fundamental structural issues as paramount: the financial stability of the nation, the abuse of Executive Order and subversive Congressional tricks to pass unpopular legislation, re-establishing an assertive foreign policy and overt commitments to our allies, a responsible use of natural resources to achieve energy independence, wise and balanced immigration reform, and so on.
But, the Obama campaign succeeded in framing the argument away from these serious structural problems. Instead, Obama painted a picture of a phantom boogeyman: the implicit dangers of a Romney victory entailed a dark future in which Romney would somehow dictatorially and immediately abolish all abortion rights, outlaw contraception, destroy the middle class in favor of rich crony-capitalists, abandon our nation’s poor and seniors, force homosexuals back into the closet, and expel or re-enslave minorities, especially blacks (Biden – “put y’all back in chains”). Further, the Obama administration successfully used class divisions to stoke passions of the Occupy movements, promoting a soak-the-rich solution to all the nation’s problems. In fact, that was the only policy proposal I can remember Obama ever putting forward – that, and the blanket hiring of more teachers.
An utter lack of an Obama policy agenda notwithstanding, the Romney campaign poorly addressed the consequences of Obama’s existing record and most certainly the future direction of our government – namely a path to Socialism, or perhaps more accurately Statism. The prime example is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — a huge, complex, and comprehensive system run by a bureaucracy of unelected central state planners, fueled by universally pervasive taxes. The Act did not receive one Republican vote, and only passed through Congress by “Reconciliation” which is a procedure historically used for budget measures, not for sweeping legislative reform. (Another shock is that the Supreme Court upheld the law, but that should be the subject of another blog post.) At the very least, one has to acknowledge that ObamaCare represents a massive government program. Should we expect anything less in four more years? Indeed, we can already see an emboldened Obama pursuing an increasingly expansive government agenda, demanding increased Executive powers: “Obama’s opening ‘fiscal cliff’ bid seeks debt limit hike” http://reut.rs/V7a8Bf .
So, it was a shock for me to learn that the majority of Americans chose to continue down this path. I truly believed that had Americans been provided a more comprehensive education on the issues at stake, and if it were explained within an accurate historical context, citizens would have overwhelmingly chosen Mitt Romney. Instead, the information required to make informed decisions was lost in the shuffle. Clarity on the issues that mattered most was blurred, either naively because of a general ignorance of civics and history, accidentally as tangential concerns were more passionately debated, or deliberately distorted for the sake of consolidating political power.
In the end, “social issues” ruled the day, and Romney was not able to demonstrate how the very rights Democrats were seeking to advance would be put at risk and ultimately destroyed by the power they are slowly but surely handing over to the Executive branch. As President Ford stated in 1974, “A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.” To consciously choose that form of government is truly shocking.