If You’re Surprised By The Election Results, You’re The Reason You Lost, Or: A Plea For Useful Republicans

Dear Republicans:

I know the despair you feel this morning, and sympathize, because I’ve been there.  In 2004 my stiff, robotic millionaire lost to a President he should have soundly thumped, and I was so hurt I took a week off from the Internet afterwards.  I am completely sympathetic with that slow terror that the country is now in the hands of an incompetent, and the voters don’t even know it.

But I noticed a weird difference between the way Republicans and Democrats reacted to a losing candidate.  In 2004, when the polls turned against Kerry and it was obvious he was going to lose, the Democrats asked “How can we fix that?” Oh, they asked in their glum, incompetent way, but when I personally talked to other Democrats both in real life and online, we were all pretty cognizant of the fact that Kerry was the underdog.

The Republicans of 2012, however, became increasingly convinced that Romney was going to win.

Everywhere I looked on Twitter and Facebook, I saw my Republican friends – not straw men, but actual people – talking about how terrible Nate Silver’s methods were, how these Rasmussen polls showed Romney’s real strength, and eventually you got the travesty of UnSkewedPolls.com, which cherry-picked the data and even today has their prediction of not just a Romney win but a landslide, Romney 311 to Obama 227.  (Actual result: Obama 332, Romney 206.)

It all crystallized for me when my friend Brad Torgerson said, “Liberals and Democrats have Nate Silver and his 538 blog. Conservatives and Republicans have the U of CO guys. It’s an epic cage match of predictive numbers geekery!”

Look there.  Right at that post – one not too dissimilar from a thousand other dismissals of Nate Silver and the other aggregated polls.  See what Brad did there?  The way the guy bringing you news he didn’t like was automatically assigned a partisan bias, and the only rational solution was to get a guy on your side with better numbers?  As if reality was merely a function of getting enough guys on your side? 

That’s why you lost.

Stop confusing hard reality for partisan opposition.

It’s time to step out of the bubble, dear Republicans, because we fucking need you.   I don’t trust the Democratic party to run the country single-handedly.  I want a Republican party I can rely on for real solutions – and you’ve become lazy, voodoo-like, dismissing any data you don’t like as partisan opposition.

Jay Lake is fond of saying, “Reality has a liberal bias.”  That’s not because reality inevitably verifies liberal thinking, but because the Republican response to anything that challenges them is now to write off the data.

And let me repeat: we need you.  I want a counterweight to Democratic power, not a deadweight that refuses to acknowledge the issues.  I want a Republican party that will look at the numbers for climate change and not go, “I don’t like what those scientists are saying, so I’ll call it a silly liberal bias!” but say , “We’re business experts, we know how to motivate rich people to do what we want, how do we fix this?”  I want a Republican party that will realize while yes, we’re spending far too much and should cut down, the results of thirty years of trickle-down theory and tax cuts won’t actually provide enough revenue, because we are at the lowest effective tax rates we’ve had in thirty years.

And yes, you can argue all my statements here.  But in that, smart person, you’re like a driver with an SUV in Alaska.  A person with a car in Alaska is going to get stuck in the snow eventually; that’s a fact.  But if you have an SUV, you’re gonna get stuck way the heck out in the woods where no one can get at you, because you have the strength to do it and won’t stop when common sense tells you to. I had a ton of Very Smart friends dissecting all the reasons why Nate Silver was wrong, why his methodology sucked, why these pollsters who said what they liked over here had better ways of slicing the data… and all that flurry of so-called “facts” amounted to was an elaborate justification of personal biases that had no basis in reality.

It’s time to stop fighting the obvious.  It’s time to stop assuming that anyone who presents contradictory data is out to get you.

You should have won, guys.  You had a President with an economy in the doldrums, a guy who’d lost a lot of his electoral mojo in the realities of politics.  But instead of rising from the grave, you chose a candidate who never actually gave us firm numbers on what expenses he’d cut to fix the economy.   You chose a candidate who said he’d get rid of Obamacare, but never actually named the parts he’d destroy.  You chose someone who, though all politicians lie, lied a lot more than almost any modern Presidential candidate.

You had a guy who should have sliced Obama to ribbons – and he lost, in large part, because he said, “Trust me” instead of giving us a plan.  And you let him get away with it.

You let him get away with it because you’re indulging in a great deal of magical thinking.  You let him get away with it because facts have ceased to matter; as long as someone tells you something you want to hear, you’ll find a way to justify it with pseudo-science and trust and spit and baling wire.  You don’t like to hear how bad a candidate Mitt was, because you came so close this year, but it’s true; the problem is that so much of the country has abandoned listening to reality that you can get massive votes and never touch a fact.

If you can’t be honest today, in the aftermath of this great defeat, then you’re never going to see the truth.

If you seriously thought that Romney had a good chance of winning, then you’re part of the problem.  Wake up.  I implore you: learn from this.  Look at your deepest beliefs, and see whether the numbers support them.   Start thinking, maybe those people with data I don’t like are right.

If you think the lesson to be learned is “We weren’t conservative enough,” then you’re handing me a great victory in 2016.  I want to have a real choice then.

Love,
T.F.

52 Comments

  1. ResearchToBeDone
    Nov 7, 2012

    Awesome post. One error (word missing, I assume): “you can massive votes and never touch a fact.”

  2. BenjaminJB
    Nov 7, 2012

    (Hi, Ferrett, short-time lurker, first time responder–not because no one is saying this, but because I need to get it out.)

    I’d like this election to be a wakeup call for Republicans/conservatives; last night there were some jokes going around on Twitter to that effect: “If Nate Silver was right, maybe scientists who talk about global warming aren’t paid by Al Gore,” etc.

    But it’s easy to see how the paranoiac political imagination gets around that: if only the liberal media really told us the truth about Benghazi, if only Mitt had attacked Obama more, if only people knew about Solyndra, if only we had run a real conservative, etc.

    Maybe losing twice will work were losing once didn’t; maybe losing a few more Senatorial seats thanks to Tea Party primaries will work; maybe it will be a slow process of awakening. That’s about as much as I can hope for, since I think some people will look at reality’s liberal bias (the election) and say, “if only people had the special revelation I had.”

    • TheFerrett
      Nov 7, 2012

      Yeah, I worry that the Republicans will be all like, “IT WUZ THE MEDIA OUT TER GET US!” while never acknowledging that a lot of our big stories on Republican failures didn’t make it in, either. The media’s biased towards stories, not either party.

      • BenjaminJB
        Nov 7, 2012

        For an example of the sort of response that I don’t think will help the Republicans, you could go look at Larry Correia’s blog, where he opines on the coming storm that America is in for thanks to the Democrats.

        (The comments there aren’t much better. I’m especially fond of “You know whatever happens I will survive. I just worry for the folks that don’t have my skill set and that just don’t see what is coming.”)

  3. Lizette Mineo
    Nov 7, 2012

    Well said! May I share your post?

  4. Friday
    Nov 7, 2012

    I’m a republican. At no point did I think Mitt Romney could win. I sit here and watch the republican party become increasingly insular and aggressive to anything that doesn’t fit their particular worldview and ask how can it come to this? How can they send so much time being dismissive instead of engaging? You don’t win an argument by dismissing the opposition and all an election is is a public argument. Until the republicans are willing to admit that, god forbid they might be wrong things aren’t going to get any better for them. The worst is that a few years ago I was extensively involved in the party at a local and state level and it was like watching a feeding frenzy. Even internally they have the I’m right and you’re wrong attitude when dealing with each other.

    Its god damned terrible.

    • TheFerrett
      Nov 7, 2012

      I’m sorry you have to deal with that.

      Man, I hope you can make headway.

    • Sarah Morehouse
      Nov 7, 2012

      I’m sorry you have to deal with that, but I’m rooting for you! Democrats really need a solid, rational Republican party, or they’re not at their best. And vice versa.

    • Frank
      Nov 7, 2012

      When you look at the Republican party leadership, do who do you see that represents your rational viewpoint?

  5. Cory
    Nov 7, 2012

    There’s also the problem that when he did give answers, they were so blatantly stupid that no one wanted them. “I’ll fix the budget and start by eliminating PBS and NPR.”

  6. Erzsebet
    Nov 7, 2012

    This is the first time I really felt I stood to lose something as an individual if Romney won. I feel like he lost because of the extremism. The Tea Partiers have taken the Republican party so far astray that you can barely talk to a Republican anymore… and I do share a lot of their conservative values, to be honest.

    These people need to wake up and realize they are in the 21st century. Cultures change, and people move forward and the Republican party needs to embrace that and engage the demographic they dismiss and offer them a different, more MODERN alternative. Antiquated ideals and beliefs will get them nowhere, and it’s astounding to me that they don’t realize this as they dismiss an amazing number of voters as “left wing liberals”.

    • TheFerrett
      Nov 7, 2012

      I think he totally did lose because of extremism. His party-pleasing, women’s rights-hostile aggravation was a constant issue, and definitely hurt his stature with women.

      I really wish they’d just get okay with gays and women, and focus on fiscal policy. But they don’t do either.

      • Quezz
        Nov 8, 2012

        You forgot Latinos, Asians, recent immigrants, younger voters…just focusing on women and gays shows your own bias. The demographics of the U.S. are complex and worthy of attention. I hope more people realize that, whether they be Democrat, Republican, or other parties that I think should be part of our system.

      • NancyNJ
        Nov 8, 2012

        I completely agree. As a conservative, I’m dismayed at the Republican party.

        I did think Romney might win, but purely based on hoping the turn-out would be more in his favor. The actual turn-out numbers surprised me — it was not what I was hearing from people on the ground in the battleground states. Oh well, I always knew it was equally likely Obama would win, so there you have it.

        What is distressing to me now is listening to Republicans who just don’t get it. They allow themselves to be painted as anti-gay and anti-women, when most of them ARE NOT that. I’m disgusted that they can’t keep true to conservative values with regard to the constitution, the military and the economy, without dragging in pelvic ultrasounds and DOMA nonsense that is actually ANTITHETICAL to a small government, individual responsibility mentality.

        I’m ready to defect, but I’m afraid I still think the other party is worse. So I’m left trying to figure out how we can create a viable third party — one focused on problem-solving 100% of the time, period.

        I’m also very tired of the name calling. Call my candidate any names you want, but please people (not any of you here, that I’ve noticed) please stop calling ME stupid, bigoted and greedy. You are not helping.

        Peace.

        • TheFerrett
          Nov 8, 2012

          Truth. Be cool to each other until you’ve proven that in fact, that other guy DOES live up to the stereotype.

  7. TuWongFu
    Nov 7, 2012

    Let Republicans go extinct, it’s fine. I’m ready for a Government that includes more Libertarian and Green Party views anyways.

    • StarGazin'
      Nov 7, 2012

      Yes to your second sentence!! (this seems like a good point to jump into the conversation.) In addition to my hope that the Republican Party re-evaluates their platform and transitions into consensus-building rather than “my way or else,” I hope that we move away from the dichotomies of left-vs-right, conservative-vs-liberal, and Democrat-vs-Republican. By now, we should all know that our views are on a spectrum and most people fall in between – to me, this should mean more options. We definitely need to drop the “third” in third parties and let their voice be heard. Maybe the answers to some of our problems lie within these alternative parties’ platforms. How will we ever know unless we let them join the Democrats and Republicans at the table?

      (BTW, love this post! This is the first I’ve learned of this blog, but I added it to my bookmarks.)

      • TheFerrett
        Nov 8, 2012

        Unfortunately, I don’t ever see a third party happening. It’d be nice, but there’s no motivation for it to work – the “winner take all” nature of the elections means that if you’re a third party, you’re fucking up one of the main parties, and usually to a disproportionate degree.

        I’d prefer proportional representation. But that ain’t gonna happen.

    • Mavis
      Nov 8, 2012

      I think I agree with you as an old white Republican who personally leans (but doesn’t go all the way as I agree with right to choose) to social and fiscal conservatism. I like a combination of Libertarian and Green. What I don’t like is the Libertarian belief that we can retreat to our own shores and we won’t be bothered by world issues, and the Green Party apparent hyperfocus on issues other than the bread and butter fiscal soundness of this country. And why can’t either of these parties float a candidate that seems globally smart and capable? Yes, I was very disappointed because as a small business owner I am afraid that what is to come will bury my company and me personally.

  8. Plip
    Nov 7, 2012

    As a(n Obama-voting, pro-LGBT, San Francisco liberal) Republican, there is little in this article I disagree with. I would like to see the GOP wisen up after this and realize “maybe doing the same crap as before is what is making us lose”!

    I still am very comfortable with being a “Republican”, though I think it has a lot to do with how “Republicans” in San Francisco are of a considerably different breed than your typical “rape is God’s will” Republicans elsewhere in the Union. Maybe the GOP should take a few pages from our playbook? They don’t help much in San Francisco proper, but it could help elsewhere, y’know? Stuff like “maybe being anti-LGBT isn’t a good idea” and “women are people too” and “perhaps we really SHOULD ‘govern least’ and give up on the drug war?”…

    • Plip
      Nov 7, 2012

      Having said that, in my experience there were plenty of pro-Kerryites in SF who were equally convinced of his victory (despite that dorky picture of him trying to duck hunt), and a few Republicans who realized Romney was the underdog, even when running against McCain in 2008.

      I’ve just noticed that there are people who are going to want things their way SO MUCH that they’ll do anything to delude themselves into thinking it’ll happen, “no doubt about it”. That’s why so many people felt devastated with Kerry’s loss… but don’t feel TOO bad because that just means Obama was able to run. As such, I hope this means Romney’s loss could allow for a more Moderate Republican to run for office in 2016 who’ll be far better for the GOP than Romney was.

  9. Julie
    Nov 7, 2012

    Sharing!

    As a Libertarian I just want to thank you for expressing what I have been trying to say for a long time now to my Republican and Democrat friends.

  10. Jay
    Nov 7, 2012

    It is such a breath of fresh air to read your well written post. You elucidate many thoughts I have had in recent days. I had the opportunity to listen to Fox radio for a while on a business trip today. I did this more out of morbid curiosity than anything; but I was really struck by the degree to which the callers and host just could not reconcile reality to their reinforced version of reality into which they boxed themselves by refusing to heed any contradictory data. They were truly flummoxed that they lost. It was very amusing, but sad and troubling as well.

  11. John Small Berries
    Nov 7, 2012

    ” You chose someone who, though all politicians lie, lied a lot more than almost any modern Presidential candidate.”

    Almost any? Okay, I’ll bite. Who are the exceptions?

  12. Matix
    Nov 7, 2012

    I voted for Not-Romney. Since I live in Texas(moved here) it didn’t make much difference, but still. I’m not terribly pro-or anti-Obama, but he hasn’t been as bad for the US as Bush Jr. at least, and he’s done a few good things.

    For the rest of the voting, I picked what seemed logical from what I knew about party lines and could find about candidate platforms – Green Party for Railroad Commissioner(which handles stuff to do with the Barnett Shale drilling. I don’t know why that is so, but it is), Libertarians for Senate, Democrats where the only options were Rep/Dem. Why? Because a lot of Republicans (not all) seem to have crawled so far into their ‘religiously persecuted’ martyred delusions that they actively scare me.

    I listen to a Christian/Republican radio show every now and again (it’s like a train wreck, yet somehow I keep hoping against hope for logical viewpoints), and they were actually terrified today that Obama would persecute them because of their religion. ( …I think Obama has slightly larger problems, and also that would be ~unconstitutional~. *facepalm* ) Partly because gay/lesbian people would sue their pastors for refusing to marry them, and gays were evil and unnatural. And then they went straight into a segment where we get a story about a guy who was born with a physical deformity which made other kids tease him and call him a monster, and can you imagine how much that must have hurt him, to grow up being told he was a monster until he believed it?

    And it’s like. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. How do the people listening to this condemn one person for being born a certain way, and pity another because obviously he had no control over how he was born? Is logic and the ability to draw paralells such an esoteric thing?

    And don’t even get me started on the whole ‘legitimate rape’ mess. Aside from showing an appalling lack of basic biology knowledge(that’s what you get for not having a sex-ed class!!), the whole pro-life thing is so out of whack with reality and even their own party’s practices that I honestly just. Don’t. Get. It. Why are anti-abortion ~and~ anti-contraception(and sex-ed classes)? More education and contraception would equal less abortions? Why are unborn lumps of cells more important than that same lump of cells ten months later? All the attention goes to the unobrn, but once the baby is born to a single mother who can’t afford to raise it, the Republicans want to take away any moneteray safetey net for the mother and child? Is a month-old baby more capable of caring for itself than an unborn child? Does the mother need less help now? I mean for crying out loud at least be consistent!

    It’s not like anyone is forcing Republicans at gunpoint to have an abortion, or be gay, or non-Christian. Why are they so panic-stricken about these things? Why are they chasing away anyone who wants to be a Republican ( who believes in small gov’t, more independent/state power) because they’re not the right skin-colour or religion? This is not a survivable tactic.

    And the lies, good gods the ~lies~. Romney couldn’t go two minutes without changing his mind or outright lying. He had no plan and didn’t seem to think he needed one, just platitudes that shifted to accomodate his audience. Also, I don’t expect electoral candidates to know some random country in the backwaters of Africa or Eurasia or anything, but he should at least know where Syria is in relation to Iran and Iraq. Considering the US still has troops in that area, and Romney sounded like he was agitating for something that would annoy Iran at the very least and possibly escalate into something worse, like open aggression.

    Maybe the Green and Libertarian parties will take up the slack that the Republican party is allowing to sprawl all over the place. And I totally agree with you – the Democratic party does need a counterbalance (at least one, preferably more, which would also help to ameliorate the us-vs-them mindset in a bipartisan system). Right now, vote for whatever party it makes sense to vote for. And sadly that is never the Republicans.

  13. Bill Hensley
    Nov 7, 2012

    Well thought out post. I especially appreciate the comment about needing both parties for ideas and as a brake. Thanks!

  14. Stefan
    Nov 7, 2012

    Hi Ferret,
    I’ve been wanted to express my disgust with my party’s method and decisions, trying to explain to them that we had a bad candidate and that we as a party need to change. We need to listen. Thanks for writing this, I’m sure I’ll use it as a basis for further arguments I have with my party members.

  15. Brad R. Torgersen
    Nov 7, 2012

    Ferrett, I am not a Republican. I have never registered with either the Republicans or the Democrats. I voted Perot, Clinton, Gore, Bush, (write in) and Romney. In that order. My history tells me I am an economics voter above almost all other things. So please don’t use me as a proxy for The Republicans. It’s a poor fit at best, and dishonest at worst.

    Yes, I had plenty of doubts about Nate Silver’s model because Nate Silver was never shy about saying who he was rooting for. It made me remember the old saw: there are lies, damned lies, and statistics. People enamored with numbers and seeking a certain outcome will almost always find a formula to get what they want. In 2012 Nate Silver’s math worked for him. Will it always be thus?

    Hopefully Nate Silver stays in the biz long enough for a Republican surge to confront his methods. He either alters them to get the outcome he wants, or he says, “Uh oh, the Silverometer is showing a Republican storm on the horizon, this doesn’t look good for Our Side!” If Nate can do that, he will impress me.

    But for the present I have to hand it to him. He PWN3D every doubter, and I was one of them. Nate’s got to feel mighty good about himself right now, and Obama voters are certainly feeling good right along with him. I would like to see Nate offer us predictions on how long it will take the American economy to collapse at the rate of a trillion dollars being added to the debt every year. He is good with the math. He ought to be able to ballpark it.

    Meanwhile, I won’t defend the Republican Party because they are not “my” party and I have never felt loyalty nor allegiance to them to any great degree. I believed in Mitt Romney because he was Mitt Romney. Now that he’s been swept away and will not return to the national stage, I am more or less out of hope that either the Republicans or the Democrats will give enough of a shit about the deficits or the debt to effect real spending and entitlement reforms; not before the Big Crash that takes down all the banks and the treasury and has Uncle Sam sitting there with his pockets pulled out and a bubble caption over his head that says, “D’OH!”

    I got the sense that Obama voters thought the deficit and debt either didn’t matter, or could be entirely blamed on Bush and Republicans, thus it still didn’t matter. A solution wasn’t as important as pinning the donkey’s tail to the elephant’s ass on this.

    Does “hard reality” have a liberal bias? There are plenty of people you and I both know who trumpet, “YES IT DOES!” I look forward to when these same people are still blaming Bush and the Republicans for the fact that we’re all broke and poor equally, thanks to a national default. Spending and entitlement reform were my #1 issue this year. Seems to me Obama fans couldn’t or wouldn’t face up to that “hard reality” any more than Republicans and conservatives would face up to Nate Silver’s now neutronium-clad numbers magic. Seems to me both “sides” are fond of ignoring the data when it suits them.

    Or are we only here to complain about what lousy thinkers Republicans and conservatives are, because, you know, they’re Republicans and conservatives and as everybody knows, Bob, Republicans and conservatives are chowderheads?

    • Auroch
      Nov 8, 2012

      On the economic front: The only ways any country has ever recovered from a recession this bad are by massive government spending (sometimes called “a war”) or by decades of waiting.

      It’s impossible to prove a counterfactual, of course, but it you look at the predictions made in 2009 by the WSJ editorial board (quite conservative), who said the stimulus was too much spending, and Paul Krugman (liberal/progressive), who said it was not enough, the results match up much more with Krugman than the WSJ.

      Also, we’re recovering much faster than Europe, who have been all aboard the balanced-budget austerity bandwagon since basically day one of the global recession.

    • J
      Nov 8, 2012

      Silver predicted the Republican takeover of Congress in 2010, but I suppose that doesn’t count?

    • Nessa
      Nov 8, 2012

      Your argument with regards to Nate Silver is that because he has openly admitted to his biases, he is therefore less trustworthy and reliable? I confess I find that counterintuitive; I would much rather trust a statistician who says “this is what my math says, but I know I want the answer to be [X], so there’s a chance I am fooling myself” than one who says “these are the facts, and if you dispute my calculations then you impugn my honor, sir!”

      It seems to me that in America right now, liberals as a whole tend to fall into the former camp, while conservatives fall into the later — though that is, at best, a broad generalization and not a terribly useful one. Best to stick to the specifics; I think your line of reasoning in regards to Mr. Silver is simply wrong.

    • Russ
      Nov 8, 2012

      Just to respond to your question about how Nate Sikver would face a Republican wave, he did so in 2010. He correctly projected a Republican landslide, although he missed the final tally by 8 (which, given 538 races to predict, is still nothing to sneeze at). Wikipedia has some of the story if you’re interested.

      • Russ
        Nov 8, 2012

        Sorry. That should be 441 races. I’ve still got 538 on my mind.

    • Chris K
      Nov 8, 2012

      “how long it will take the American economy to collapse at the rate of a trillion dollars being added to the debt every year. He is good with the math.”

      The fact that you believe math has a great deal to do with predicting the collapse of a national economy makes it difficult to take any of your points seriously.

    • Eric Roberts
      Nov 9, 2012

      Nate predicted 2008, 2010, andthis election…he predicted the Republican takeover of the house…so he has had the stats for Republicans instead of democrats.

  16. Ken Burnside
    Nov 8, 2012

    My basic argument this election was:

    Every second, the federal government is racking up $43,000 in debt.

    I’m going to count to ten. (Hold up stop watch). Raise your hand when the government has racked up more debt than you made last year.

    If you raised your hand, keep it up if you think that removing the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts will cause the budget to be balanced.

    (No hands go down)

    Are you willing to actually listen while I run out the numbers and statistical methods and accounting terminology? Or will this actually get past your “Make The Rich Pay Their Fair Share” filters?

    Yes, there are Democrats who cannot accept unpleasant numerical realities as well. The difference is that their unpleasant numerical realities will bite us far sooner than climate change will.

    • TheFerrett
      Nov 8, 2012

      Speaking as a nominal Democrat, the problem is that the Republicans didn’t have a plan to cut spending, and I think the country knew it. As noted, Romney’s plan to cut PBS was like deleting text files to clear space on a gigabyte drive. If Romney had said, “Okay, we’re going to cut the Pentagon spending by 20%, and here’s what we need to do to Medicaid to cut IT back without hurting services too much,” then I think he would have won (particularly given his performance in the first debate).

      My point is that if the Republicans had not indulged in magical thinking (“Oh, he’ll cut… something. And not raise taxes! THAT’S the important bit!”), then Romney could have started a dialog about the serious trouble we’re in. As it is, he let most Americans off thinking that PBS and NPR and foreign aid were the reason we’re in trouble. They’re not.

      • Ken Burnside
        Nov 9, 2012

        Except that there were spending plans and mock budget proposals. They were mostly Paul Ryan’s…and Paul Ryan was one of the architects of the “fiscal cliff” we’re running towards.

        ANYTHING that was deemed a budget cut would get turned into the turd-tornado of “Vote against Mitt and Save Big Bird!”

        Notice how much of the rhetoric was about how Romney was going to do another tax cut for the rich? The budget proposals largely shifted the tax burden up the tax bracket in the Romney-Ryan proposals. The rhetoric is sound-bite activism.

        Which is, bluntly, how representative governments fail. The sensible, rational voter who says “OK, we can’t afford 14 aircraft carriers” gets drowned out by the representatives in those districts where aircraft carriers represent knock-on jobs.

        The sensible, rational voter says “OK, we can’t afford subsidies for electric car plants.” And gets drowned out by the people who say he’s exporting jobs to India, China or Somewhere Else.

        Once it becomes a Federal Program, the prospect of elimination or reduction in the program triggers protests.

        I write about space science. When the NASA budget came out with merely a 30 million dollar budget increase earlier this year, it had Neil deGrasse Tyson talking about how it was a travesty, and doom and gloom.

        35% of the NASA budget is currently devoted to the Space Launch System, which is already 5 years overdue, is the zombified corpse of Constellation (Bush II’s moonshot program), and is functionally a handout to long term aerospace contractors.

        If well educated space advocates can’t see the forest for the trees, why should we expect voters not to vote their own parochial interests at the expense of fiscal sanity?

        Particularly when being specific about what you’re going to cut is political suicide?

    • ResearchToBeDone
      Nov 8, 2012

      See, this is part of the problem. This comment. This thing where people assume Obama is getting votes because liberals think he’s some sort of government-fixing supergenius.

      That’s not why I voted for him. That’s not why most of the people I know voted for him. I voted for him because his plans were far less apparently inadequate than Romney’s (sometimes merely by virtue of existing at all), not because I thought he would magically fix everything. Every time you imply otherwise you demonstrate an absurdly oversimplistic understanding of the reason people voted the way they did, and an absurdly oversimplistic analysis of the issues at hand.

      • Ken Burnside
        Nov 9, 2012

        So, how many Democratic budgets were put up for vote by the House and Senate during the last four years?

        Zero.

        The Romney-Ryan plans were posted on their web sites – they built off of the Republican budgets that were submitted (and voted down) in the last four years.

        Want to talk about “No plan?” Look at the actual behavior of Congress.

        Note that any actual reductions in spending in a department – rather than “slower than expected rate of increase” is seen (and portrayed) as “Radical Tea Party Assholism.”

        NEITHER major party can actually come to grips with the fact that the Federal budget needs to be cut by somewhere between 35 and 40% to balance revenues and expenditures. It’s always “borrow now so that when the economy recovers it will balance out and be paid off later.”

        Always.

        The last time the Federal Debt went down, rather than up? 1925.

        Those who study history are doomed to stare, helplessly, at the fate engendered by those who did not…

  17. Auroch
    Nov 8, 2012

    I am increasingly hoping for the rise of one or more regional parties who will swallow the old sensible-Republican voting blocs and gradually replace it as a nationwide entity.

  18. Robert S Johnson
    Nov 8, 2012

    The only thing I think you leave out of your very cogent analysis is the abomination that is the Republican viewpoint on immigration. To paraphrase Rubio (of all people) when asked why more Hispanics were not rallying to the Republicans because of unemployment etc.: It is hard to listen to someone who wants to deport your granny. Add to that the China bashing (which sounds like Asia bashing) and that knocks out another important and growing block of voters… I linked my FB page to this blog post and intend to do the same from my blog tomorrow if that is ok with you.

    • TheFerrett
      Nov 8, 2012

      Yeah, that’s just pure bad design. The country is changing. You gotta work with that.

      Feel free to link, and thank you.

  19. Kevin K
    Nov 8, 2012

    At LAST! Civil discourse. So refreshing to be free of Godwin’s Law.

  20. Jericka
    Nov 8, 2012

    I grew up in a family that was split politically. Mom was a Democrat, and Dad was a Republican. However, I was also raised to think that the checks and balances of the government were useful; one side should not have free reign to do whatever it likes without compromise. It makes the arguments stronger and the plans more completely thought out.
    Or, that’s the theory.
    The current brand of Republicans are useless at this, because they don’t seem interested in governing(there are exceptions to this! I usually spot them in eastern governor’s offices, and there WERE some senators that qualified….) They don’t function as a check; there are only a blockade. There is no refining of plans; there is only “my way or the highway”.
    My Dad was a Republican. He was fiscally conservative and socially liberal and called himself a Lincoln Republican. All the fiscally conservative folk that I know now are aware that financing two wars is EXPENSIVE! The fiscally CONSERVATIVE people weren’t interested in letting the wall street folk and the banks gamble with mortgages. Those regulations that they gutted were there for a fiscally sound reason!
    Romney sounded like he would start another war in the middle east, probably with Iran. How would he finance that? Probably not with taxes, so ……more debt I guess?

  21. wolff bachner
    Nov 9, 2012

    my dear friend and fellow Journalist at The Inquisitr, Kim Lacapria ,mentioned your article. You analysis is totally correct, but I added another aspect in my lengthy column today . I hope you enjoy it:

    http://www.inquisitr.com/393131/the-election-is-over-and-rush-limbaugh-refuses-to-accept-reality-still-blaming-welfare-recipients/

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