Romney’s Comments To Donors Post-Election Show Why We Are Fortunate He Lost

If we were still heading into an election, Mitt Romney would now have lost two news cycles over his comment to donors that Obama won because of gifts. It is a common strategy of the right wing to exaggerate the percentage of government spending on aide for others while building a false narrative that Democrats are a bunch of poor people looking for government handouts. As was the case with the attack on the Benghazi consulate, Mitt Romney appears to actually believe the right wing talking points.

Romney made it clear that he really does believe the 47 percent line which contributed to his defeat. Encouraging fear and hatred of minorities is a standard Republican tactic, but Romney’s theory that Obama won due to gifts to minorities fails to explain Obama’s victories in states such as Iowa and New Hampshire. On the other hand, the close correlation between the old slave states and the red states is no coincidence. (Virginia has become an exception due to the Washington, D.C. suburbs in the northern part of the state).

Steven Taylor debunked the belief that the affluent vote Republican and the poor vote Democratic.

Here’s the empirical problem:  if our parties were truly cleaved along class lines, then we would see voting patterns based almost exclusively, if not exclusively, along wealth lines.  While we see some divisions along these lines, we do not have class-based voting (i.e., the Dems are not the party solely of the poor nor are the Reps the party exclusively of the rich).  There are a lot of lower income whites (in particular) who vote Republican and there are a substantial number of middle and upper class persons who vote Democratic.

For example, Gallup polled registered voters in September based on income and found the following:

Voting preferences by annual household income.gif

While we see some clear class-based divisions, they are hardly as pronounced as Romney, et al., is making it out to be.  Not only are there clearly substantial number of poor persons voting Romney, there is a sizeable percentage of the wealthy voting Obama.

Quite frankly, if the Democrats were, in fact, exclusively the party of the poor, we would see different policy proposals from them.

John Avlon uses this misconception to show that we are fortunate that Mitt Romney wasn’t elected president:

Romney’s comments about his opponent’s “old playbook,” as he called it, again revived a dystopian scenario conservatives have been warning about since the New Deal, where Democrats “buy” a permanent majority and undermine democracy at the cost of the productive class. Using this old myth to explain his defeat illustrates again Romney’s disconnect from modern America. He views growing groups—young voters and particularly young women, and Hispanics—as outside special interests, and not as an essential part of the fabric of America.

And it shows the mind of a man who believes that everything is for sale—including, or especially, votes. This is consistent with what I always felt was the most accurate criticism of Romney: that he approached politics as a salesman, offering every group a different pitch. From that perspective, it’s easy to see how he could complain about government as a competing salesman, cobbling together constituencies with “gifts”—which sound perilously close to “bribes” in this context.

A final point: President Obama backing the DREAM Act or contraception coverage is not a nakedly political gesture, it is a matter of policy difference. Addressing the needs and desires of people is not a bribe or a government gift to be exchanged for a vote. It is part of the purpose of representative government as conservative forefather Edmund Burke himself once envisioned: “Government is a contrivance of human wisdom to provide for human wants. Men have a right that these wants should be provided for by this wisdom.”

Romney’s distance from this perspective about government shows how far the conservative conversation has drifted from original principles. His impulse to rationalize defeat as victory for liberal special-interest bribery shows again that it is probably best for the country that he was not elected president this November.

Considering how wrong Romney was, it only made sense for a Republican politician to criticize Romney to look more in touch with reality than the typical Republican. Bobby Jindal had this to say:

“I don’t think that represents where we are as a party and where we’re going as a party,” he said. “That has got to be one of the most fundamental takeaways from this election: If we’re going to continue to be a competitive party and win elections on the national stage and continue to fight for our conservative principles, we need two messages to get out loudly and clearly: One, we are fighting for 100 percent of the votes, and secondly, our policies benefit every American who wants to pursue the American dream. Period. No exceptions.”

I think Romney does represent where much of the Republican Party is, but Jindal is smart to repudiate this view.

Those in the RNC who put winning ahead of echoing the views of Rush Limbaugh also found reasons other than those presented by Romney for why he lost. This includes changing demographics and finding that those who blamed George Bush for the state of the economy out numbered those blaming Obama 53 percent to-38 percent. The report did not look at factors such as opposition to increased government intrusion in the private lives of individuals under Republican policies. I imagine that opening discussion of this would not help them pursue their false narrative of being the party of small government.