Election Kicks Can Down the Road, And What Republicans Can Learn
The public voted for status quo. President Obama was reelected, joining only Woodrow Wilson on the list of President’s elected to a second term with a lower electoral college total than their first. The Senate stayed Democratic, the House Republican, and both by very similar margins as before. In other words, nothing changed. And Hester Peirce of the Mercatus Center points out, even a party flip for either branch still would have left much of the policy-making apparatus on auto pilot and unresponsive to public input – that of the bureaucracy. But I digress. The point is that the public decidedly rejected changing course, despite mostly believing that things are “seriously off on the wrong track.”
In terms of America’s great fiscal challenges, no real solutions will be in the offing. More than likely we can expect more temporary extensions of most current tax rates, with Republicans caving and foolishing offering more “revenue” through ill-conceived class-warfare tax hikes. And let’s be clear, class warfare was a big winner of the election. It sustained the President’s campaign and elected far left radical Elizabeth Warren to the Senate. Exit polls further show an electorate that has bought the class warfare rhetoric, with 47% wanting to increase taxes on those with incomes over $250,000 (plus 13% wanting to raise them on everyone), 55% believing the US economic system “favors the wealthy,” and 53% saying that Romney’s policies would generally favor the “rich.”
These numbers suggest failure on Romney’s part to win the key arguments of the campaign. In a bit of good news, 51% says that “Government is doing too many things better left to businesses and individuals,” which represents a change from 2008 when a majority wanted government to do more. But 24% of those who think government is doing too much voted for Obama, which is a massive failure of the Romney campaign and the Republican party. That they still cannot more easily and decisively separate themselves in the eyes of voters from the Democrats on the size of government question is inexcusable. Romney’s inability to sufficiently connect with the electorate was also confirmed by the degree to which his voters expressed their support: Obama won more voters who said they strongly favored their candidate, while Romney won more of those who had reservations, or simply disliked the other candidates. Romney voters, in other words, were more against Obama than they were for Romney.
It’s worth pointing out that, despite a majority at one point saying that want to raise taxes either on everyone or just the wealthy, 63% also said that taxes should not be raised to help cut the budget deficit. This apparent contradiction in the numbers indicates that some of the tax hiking support cited earlier is “soft,” and is certainly welcome news for those of us seeking to limit the growth of government.
All of this suggests two things: 1) Advocates for limited government have a lot of work to do in combating leftist class warfare attacks and educating the public, 2) The Republican party has work left to do when it comes to convincing small government voters that the GOP is a welcome home again, and furthermore in identifying candidates capable of accomplishing number 1.
With the President likely to renew pursuit of his economically destructive agenda, the 2016 landscape should favor Republicans. It would be both to their benefit, and those who support limited government, to nominate someone capable of connecting where Romney failed, and educating where Romney could not. In other words, it should be Marco Rubio’s election to lose.