Wait Until Next Time IIWritten by Tim Higgins | | email@example.com
The election is now behind us, but in spite of the temptation to do so, I’m not going to play Monday Morning Quarterback. Instead I’m going to go back a bit further to the original “Wait Until Next Time” effort in the TFP from September 6th. In it I spoke of the lingering disappointment of Republicans with their nominee and of history repeating itself.
For the second presidential election cycle in a row, the Republican nominee was a seasoned Republican who had run for high office before and whose turn at the big prize had apparently now come. Once again, we saw a party convention that was more excited by the VP pick than that of the nominee. Once more we saw speeches by second-tier players like Rubio, Rice, and Christie (all of whom are expected to have further ambitions of their own) that excited the base on a far grander scale than the candidate they were sending forward to represent them. Yet again, many gloried in the strong bench that they had for the days ahead while almost reluctantly entering the big contest with their chosen candidate.
Over time, a gradual acceptance of that candidate occurred, but valuable time was lost as many of the faithful only reluctantly gave up the emotional connection to candidates no longer in the race. Like John McCain before him, Mitt Romney was not a bad guy or even all that bad a candidate. Like his Republican predecessor however and though a smart enough guy in person, he was a little more than a generic politician who inspired neither love nor anger in seeking the highest office in the land. Those who traditionally might have had stronger feelings for the nominee, especially the Conservatives, had once more been abandoned in a Republican race to the middle, and to Independents who by definition do not have strong enough emotions to maintain abiding loyalty. Suffering once again with feelings of abandonment, it’s little wonder that their efforts were more about their dislike of the opposition than their love of their own candidate. Such desultory efforts on their part could hardly be expected to achieve anything more than erratic and haphazard results.
Democrats on the other hand, going forward with an unopposed incumbent candidate, had little but emotion on their side. The incumbent’s record on the economy was lackluster at best, and the stimulus on which we spent billions of dollars on carried no long term stimulation; but without anyone to challenge him, such things were left unsaid. The promises made about reducing the cost of health care through his signature domestic policy were proving less than accurate, as costs and premiums spiraled up even more than in the days prior to its implementation. His foreign policies had achieved one great success, but even that was being challenged by the resurgence of terrorists groups and recent events in Libya.
But in spite of numbers that those in the know insisted would doom any Incumbent’s campaign, the challenger could gain no significant ground in his effort because he failed to make an emotion connection with his party; and especially with his conservative base. Spending more time fighting his own lackluster efforts to define himself and his opponent, he too found himself with but one shining moment at the first debate to call his own. And having garnered that one single victory; instead of capitalizing, the challenger reverted to the Stephen Moore maxim that Republicans “never pass up an opportunity to pass up an opportunity”. His failure to take advantage of his success in the succeeding two debates, and his unemotional ‘prevent defense’ gave away his last opportunity to stir Republicans emotionally. The final surge in travel to energize that base was valiant; but proved too little, too late. Instead of surging towards a finish line of victory, it proved little more than a limp across the line towards relief.
Have no fear however, like Cubs fans who annually watch team management easily snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, the Republicans will be back around the next election cycle. And let’s face it, they usually do better in the two-year Congressional elections than they have lately in the big game. If they are to once more bring home the big one however, they are going to have to abandon the ‘It’s My Turn’ philosophy of candidate selection. I suppose it says something about them, that they reward long time participation in the party with opportunity, but unless Republicans can finally nominate the candidates that will excite the support of the party faithful, they will inevitably be waiting until next time.