I understand what it is like to lose a hard-fought campaign. I’ve been there, done that. And candidly, I don’t think my concession speech, back in 1980, was a model of good sportsmanship, although I tried. So I’d be inclined to cut Romney a bit of slack for the tone of his after-the-fact ruminations.
A bit of slack, however, wouldn’t cover the graceless and defensive comments Romney reportedly made to a group of his donors during a conference call a couple of days after the election. While his actual concession speech was gracious (as my son said after hearing it, “If that Romney had run, he might have won!), these remarks underscored his contempt for the “takers” he dismissed as mooches and worse in those widely-reported remarks about “47% of Americans.”
“With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest, was a big gift,” he said. “Free contraceptives were very big with young college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008.
”The president’s health care plan, he added, was also a useful tool in mobilizing African-American and Hispanic voters. Though Mr. Romney won the white vote with 59 percent, according to exit polls, minorities coalesced around the president in overwhelming numbers — 93 percent of blacks and 71 percent of Hispanics voted to re-elect Mr. Obama.
“You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you’re now going to get free health care, particularly if you don’t have it, getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 per family, in perpetuity, I mean, this is huge,” he said. “Likewise with Hispanic voters, free health care was a big plus. But in addition with regards to Hispanic voters, the amnesty for children of illegals, the so-called Dream Act kids, was a huge plus for that voting group.”
Ah yes–those greedy, grasping poor people who want affordable health care! Those “takers” are so unlike us refined, genteel “makers” who simply want to keep our dollars from being frittered away on public goods like clean air or highways or wasted on providing health care for the unwashed masses!
I know this is a favorite meme on the Right–the belief that people will vote for the party or person who promises them more “stuff.” Never mind those blue-collar culture warriors who reliably vote Republican because their opposition to same-sex marriage or abortion is more important to them than their own economic well-being. And never mind the economically comfortable folks (like me and most of my friends) who willingly vote for higher tax rates that will cost us money because we believe a more equal country will be a better, healthier country.
I’m willing to support higher taxes for me, because I believe (with Henry Ford) that markets need consumers who are able to afford the goods and services those “makers” are selling. I’m also willing to pay more because I can read economic history, which shows pretty conclusively that the American economy was more–not less–robust when taxes were higher and the gap between rich and poor was not so immense.
Back in 1980, I lost an election because the voters preferred my opponent. It wasn’t because greedy or stupid or worthless people were unable to see past their own miserable selfishness to understand how wonderful I really was.
Mitt Romney lost this election for a number of reasons. The crazy wing of his party wouldn’t allow him to get real. On the stump, he projected all the charm of a robot. He was the master of the unforced error and gaffe. His campaign staff was inept, and his pollsters lived in an alternate universe. People like Akin and Mourdock kept reminding voters how crazy the right wing of the party has become.
Not to mention that voters not blinded by irrational animus to the President actually like him a lot, and believe he coped as well as could be expected after inheriting a next-to-impossible situation.
In short, there were plenty of reasons for Romney’s loss. Blaming that loss on “moochers” isn’t only inaccurate, it’s classless. But I guess class is one of those things money can’t buy.