The reality that America has re-elected Barack Obama has caused some conservative writers to ponder where they went wrong, and to debate if it is their candidates or their stance on immigration. But many of the more extreme conservative activists and pundits are unwilling to consider the possibility that it is the fault of the conservative movement. After all, conservatives can do no wrong. Therefore, it may be that Romney was not conservative enough, or it may be that the country has lost its mind. Most comforting of all for them is to think that they were not actually repudiated at all. Here is a handy guide with examples of who is making each of these arguments, or variations on them, and how.
Romney was too moderate.
Proponents: American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, Robert Walsh of National Review, Erick Erickson of Red State
Movement conservatives remain convinced that cutting Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security to cut taxes for the wealthy would be popular among a majority of Americans, if only everyone knew that was their position. The obvious contradiction—that their policies would actually harm the many to help the few—seems simply not to occur to them. But whereas the intellectual elite of the conservative movement is capable of considering the possibility that their stances on social issues or illegal immigration may not serve their political interests, they are mostly unable to conceive such a possibility in economic matters. Fischer, an evangelical pastor, argues that a lack of conservative enthusiasm for Romney caused their turnout to fall short. But Fischer simultaneously says conservatives, especially social conservatives, have loyally accepted ideologically impure candidates such as Romney in order to win, and if they cannot even win, then they will turn their backs on the GOP.
When conservative principles are the focal point of the election, they win; when “electability” and “reaching across the aisle” are personified in a middling candidate at the presidential level, they lose.
Erickson, on November 12:
As I wrote would happen, Mitt Romney tried to blur lines with Barack Obama. He did not defend social conservatism, but let those attacks go unanswered. He did not articulate strong fiscal conservatism and he never repudiated Romneycare, thereby failing to make any credible attacks on Obamacare.
And on November 7:
Compare Romney to Scott Walker. Scott Walker took on the unions in Wisconsin and won big. Romney barely took on Barack Obama. He drew few lines in the sand, made those fungible, and did not stand on many principles. Americans wanted to assess a contrast between the candidates and got blurred lines instead. They went with the politician they knew instead of the one who was different depending on the election season, constituency, and time of day.
“I said this to some reporters at the Values Voters Summit: that if Mitt Romney loses this election there is going to be a third party because conservatives that make up the heart and soul of the Republican Party, that actually believe in the values that are enshrined in the Republican Party platform, those voters—they’re the ones that knock on doors, they give the small donations, they make the phone calls, they get out the vote—and they’re tired of being ignored by the Republican Party elites and dissed and having their values trampled into the ground. And there’s only so much that they’re going to be able to take.”