By Paolo von Schirach
November 7, 2012
WASHINGTON – Romney’s failure, although not of catastrophic proportions, is a clear indication that the Republican party does not know how to blend a pro-business agenda with a credible, truly inclusive vision of an “Opportunity Society” that all Americans, including low income people and minorities can embrace with conviction. The Republicans need to convey to America that they do not propose social Darwinism. They need to come up with an optimistic vision in which public policy provides a genuine ladder –as opposed to just more subsidies– that will allow all citizens to aim at a better future. Romney sort of tried to convey something like that in the final weeks of the campaign, but it was too late. His position on immigration is a disaster. The rest of his social agenda looks too conservative to most lower income people. Nothing there appealing to Blacks or Asians.
And do consider that Romney was the best within the initial field of mediocre to appalling Republican contenders that included retreads like Newt Gingrich, impossible, even weird characters like Herman Cain or Michele Bachmann and sentimental conservatives like Rick Santorum. If this is the best the GOP has to offer going forward, the Republicans are in big trouble.
From this perspective, lucky Obama won largely by default, even though one has to recognize that his campaign message that boiled down to: “Watch out America: Romney is much worse than I am” worked surprisingly well. Still, looking at the numbers, while Obama’s 2008 coalition held together, it did so with reduced margins. He gets to keep his job; but with no real mandate. No “Hope and Change” this time around.
As the Republicans keep the House, we could be back to more gridlock. America is facing enormous challenges. It needs radical fiscal and tax reform. It needs to reduce a catastrophic national debt. It needs to invest in education, infrastructure. It needs to restore competitiveness. How all this will be done with a President inclined to believe that government provides optimal solutions and a confused and angry Republican opposition, God only knows.