So Your Candidate Lost? Be Careful How You Interpret That
On Monday, before it was clear that Congress would actually get up off its duff and prevent America from going over the so-called “fiscal cliff,” I had an interesting conversation with someone who is still angry that her candidate didn’t win the presidential election in November.
Her take on the election results: Americans voted for the status quo and they therefore shouldn’t be upset by the fact that it’s exactly what they got.
Well, I can understand a certain amount of bitterness from those whose candidates didn’t win. It always stings when you’re a fervent supporter of one politician and that person’s opponent wins.
But to make the kind of blanket claim she does misses some very important points, not the least of which is that there’s always more than one side to a story.
Going into the 2012 election, spending was up and revenue was down. And unemployment? Well, we’ve been reminded that no president has ever been re-elected with an unemployment rate so high. With more and more people more dissatisfied with Washington and the direction of the country, the 2012 election was not Barack Obama’s to win: it literally was Mitt Romney’s to lose.
And lose he did.
Well, if we believe this angry voter, it’s because the majority of Americans wanted this same scenario to continue. Really, now, what logical sense does that make? No one wants high unemployment. And even those who spend, spend, spend would prefer to have enough in the coffers that there wouldn’t have to be a deficit.
Common sense ought to make the real truth more than blatantly clear: it wasn’t that the majority wanted more of the same, but rather that most voters feared Romney would make it even worse.
There’s no logical alternative: if they thought Romney could do a better job and make the situation for them better, there’d have been no reason not to vote for him; and because there’s a secret ballot involved, the majority could always have claimed to have voted for Obama but that too many others voted the other way. Who’d know otherwise?
I can understand a certain amount of bitterness from those whose candidate lost. Really. But if you think about it, blaming the “majority” and making comments like, “They deserve what they get” speak volumes about the minority.
No one — regardless of who won — should actively pull for anyone to suffer. No one — regardless of whether their candidate got the most votes — should gloat when something doesn’t go well for someone else.
And as for who’s to blame, I respectfully submit that those so angry about Romney’s loss have two primary people to blame: first, Romney himself, for failing to take advantage of an election that should have been so easy to win. Romney completely dropped the ball by failing to connect well enough with the middle class to convince them that he was on its side. The wealthy (and that curious bunch in the middle class that isn’t wealthy and, based on their income levels, likely never will be) was certain that Romney was the right choice for them. But they alone aren’t enough to get anyone elected. And somehow, Romney just didn’t connect well enough with the rest of us.
The second one worth blaming? The bitter voters themselves! Because despite their candidate’s shortcomings at communicating his message, they obviously failed to pick up his slack and convince all within their sphere of influence that Romney was the right choice anyway.
In almost every election, there will be winners and losers. Someone has to be disappointed somewhere. That’s politics. That’s life.
I think it’s ridiculous to point that kind of finger of blame, especially when you can’t put yourself inside anyone else’s head but your own: you can’t know why individual voters made the choices they made. And it’s ridiculous to assume that you have all the answers.
But then, if you do have all the answers, why didn’t you run?