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My Not-So-Brief Thoughts On The Election

I know. I don’t like posting about politics but I’m doing it anyway. I guess that’s the advantage of having your own blog, right?

I should mention first that I didn’t vote for either of the mainstream candidates. I didn’t feel either earned my vote or filled me with any level of confidence. I don’t feel good about that. I knew that the election was the finality of a lot of my disappointment with what has become national politics and what is now the Republican party.

First, Romney was the best candidate of an awful group of finalists. That’s not saying much, though. Republicans couldn’t give the nomination away. In the end, Romney wasn’t going to win because he wouldn’t ever be bold enough to form a coalition around his actual ideas and hold steady. He never had a chance or, at least, he shouldn’t have had a chance. His fate mirrored the fate of another Massachusetts politician: John Kerry. In both 2004 and 2012, history will show that there were two very beatable incumbents and their party picked the wrong guy to get the job done.

The fact that this election was close (and without Hurricane Sandy, it might have been closer) should be a huge worry for President Obama. Not that Obama wasn’t beatable but that he shouldn’t have been beatable by candidate Romney (or any of the Republican challengers). My concerns with Obama are basically the same as they were in 2008: he lacks the leadership to get it done in Washington. I have no confidence that he will turn it around in his second term and if you look at the recent histories of second terms, you should immediately see why. For all of the accomplishments he could point to, it wasn’t result of bipartisan agreement nor a man with a strict, uncompromising vision. He let both the opposition and his own party run roughshod and got lucky with a half-term of across-the-board majorities.

For those independents who eventually broke for him, it was a roll of the dice either way. You’re gambling that Obama will grow a backbone or that Romney’s plan, whichever one comes to fruition, would be the right one.

Of course, for a lot of people, this came down on ideological, strictly partisan grounds. Most of the people who voted for either candidate wouldn’t vote for the other, ever. I don’t really care about those people since it is always a question of turnout rather than any sort of decision for them. Those people are going to be most happy or most disappointed by the result. In reality, these people should all be disappointed with how this entire election cycle went. Outside of holding the House, the Republicans looked pathetic and holding the Senate and Presidency against the people the Republicans threw at Democrats is barely an accomplishment.

On a larger scale, I wonder what is going to happen with the Republicans after this loss? I used to consider myself one but frankly, we’ve moved away from each other. The things you have to support in order to make it through the primaries are also the things that put your appeal with independents at serious risk. Running a moderate Republican out there who literally ran from his record and past viewpoints to make in-roads with the base has lost two straight elections. Something has to break. I’d like to break it towards the moderates but that hasn’t been popular in the past (and why I consider myself a former Republican, in general).

The leg they have to stand on at this point is financial prudence; a spot that is being rightfully chipped away by a decade of indulgence that they would kill the Democrats on. If they got that sorted out, along with a reasonable and reworked foreign and domestic policy agenda and a commitment to pursue all three, they could start turning things around.

I’m not betting on that though.

Meanwhile, Democratic celebrations are going to be short-lived when they realize that they still have a Republican House and the risk of filibuster in the Senate. Nobody is going to have an easy time the next two years and it won’t be easy politically to turn the tide around on Republicans unless you really start to chip away on their key issues. Assuming the President doesn’t lead and push this Congress to better results, we can probably bet on more of the same.

Forget the electoral college for a second. The nation that needs to be governed is split down the middle. That’s not changing without some significant retooling from some party.

Democrat or Republican, I hope we can do better these next four years. And after over a billion dollars spent on this one election, I would think that we could have done better. Maybe I’ll be wrong and Obama will deliver the presidency he promised four years ago and Republicans will pull their head out and devise a clear path forward in the wake of another defeat. I’m skeptical on both fronts, though. I hope for everyone’s sake that I’m as wrong as so many political pundits were in the last three months.

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