City Journal Winter 2016

Current Issue:

Winter 2016
Table of Contents
Tablet Editions
Click to visit City Journal California

Readers’ Comments

Nicole Gelinas
Why Romney Lost « Back to Story

View Comments (34)

Add New Comment:

To send your message, please enter the words you see in the distorted image below, in order and separated by a space, and click "Submit." If you cannot read the words below, please click here to receive a new challenge.

Comments will appear online. Please do not submit comments containing advertising or obscene language. Comments containing certain content, such as URLs, may not appear online until they have been reviewed by a moderator.

Showing 34 Comment(s) Subscribe by RSS
You can run all my campaigns. Looking forward to all your articles. How about another book on let's say "Succeeding innBusiness is a State of Mind" or "America - Too Smart Not To Succeed".
Can someone help this Brit out?
The Tories should have won the last UK General Election by a landslide. To put it mildly New Labour was unpopular but they only managed 37% of the vote and had to form a Coalition. Most people think their very poor showing was down to a lack of real Conservative policies.

Is this true of the Republicans? If Romney had said he was going stop immigration would he have got more votes or would he have put 'moderates' off as the MSM seem to think?
Alena Hromádková,Prague November 11, 2012 at 12:37 PM
I appreciate your article very much, especially the reflection concerning the deficit of adequate reflection. Are media/think tanks and the U.S. academia so weak, single minded or pro-leftist now in time of evident facts of general decline?
Romney's loss was a GOTV problem pure and simple.
Ritchie The Riveter November 10, 2012 at 10:58 AM
JC - I would go along with you, if we were allowed to share this nation with y'all.

Problem is, y'all want to jam YOUR morality down our throats by the coercive force of law, and far more forcefully than any fundamentalist Christian ... but your conscience doesn't bother you about that, because you don't believe you are acting on faith.

The problem is, in many ways, y'all are acting on faith ... faith in the omniscience of certain human beings, simply because they happen to have a good CV.

Keep in mind that the freedom conservatives espouse isn't just about doing what one wants ... it is about keeping the ability to work around the errors/greed/mendacity/delusion of those around you.

You think you are making progress? All the majority did was just vote themselves a very hard lesson in economics, when they could have avoided that.
I agree with Gelinas -- this election was not winnable. Since the 22nd Amendment was ratified in time for the 1952 election, the parties have traded the White House every eight years, except for one 4/12 split in the 1980s. The Republicans only chance was that voters couldn't remember anything before 2009, which isn't possible. It's a credit to Mr. Romney that he made Mr. Obama the first President every re-elected by a smaller margin than the first time.

The lead story on the biased media is that the Democrats are the party of the future because of Hispanics. But looking at the electoral map, it's the Republicans who dominate most of the country's growing regions. They need to create a version of conservatism that doesn't embarrass an educated sub/urbanite. More City Journal and less the PTL Club.

This publication, while a premier exponent of policy, should examine what needs to be done to make conservatism more popular and hip. We need to counter the lessons the Occupiers get through popular media and semi-Marxist education, that capitalism is the problem and diversity is the solution. That quote on the front page about a quarterly journal being the most relevant reading in our wired world, needs to be understood as part of the problem -- our young should want to know what City Journal thinks about what happened THIS WEEK.
New Jersey's "Star Ledger" after Hurricane Sandy headlined "Romney Considering NJ Visit." Now some Republicans are bashing Chris Christie because of his effusive embrace of Barack Obama when he came to the Garden State. Gelinas notes the problem--you should like Presidential, not bicker. The problem was not that Barack Obama was with Chris Christie; the problem was that Mitt Romney WASN'T.....
I read this on a news comments page and I think this pretty much sums it up:

"What have I been telling you guys for MONTHS?? Romney KNEW he was going to win because he over-estimated Obama-hatred.... That's the problem with you conservatives. You live in a bubble where everyone thinks just like you. Where everyone LOOKS like you. You have no idea of how the REAL America really is and operates. You think you own this country. That's why you want to take it back. You don't want to share it with blacks, latinos, homosexuals, atheists, muslims, jews, and single women who get abortions. Until you get rid of that attitude, you guys will stay losing. Because there are MORE sensible Americans than there are racist, xenophobic, homophobic, angry white males with a sense of entitlement to America and all its riches, power and opportunities. Get over yourselves."
Many young Americans who voted for Obama are simply Eloi. If they are a harbinger of anything to come, it's nothing good. They, like the man they helped elect, get fed left wing nonsense from K to post-doc. And no, none of them have ever read a word of Marx; they lack the intellectual wherewithal to do so.

Also, you think the economy has recovered? Based on what? What's changed? What's different about the picture from, say, two or three years ago? I mean, housing rebound? Are you kidding?
"Obama won in part because he got away with blatant lies"

Exactly. The "Ministry of Truth" exists.
Whether it's lying about the Bush Presidency or Republicans in general or ignoring F & F, Bengazi, or operating without a budget for 3 years, the "Ministry of Truth" is on the job. And remember what they are best at is not just lying but lying big. They have perfected the art of telling the "opposite of the truth". Propaganda at its most potent.
My young conservative clients (40 and under) all knew we were going to lose this election. Because I was older and supposedly knew more, they deferred to my chortling when I pointed to Dick Morris, to the "adjusted" polls, to Drudge. How wrong I was, with the benefit of 20-20 hindsight.

I'm still bleeding from election night, but something is coming clear... the Republican party no longer speaks to the majority of Americans or represents what they believe. That Obama could win is testimony that Republican candidates are speaking a foreign language to voters.

Over and over I'm hearing from young conservatives that "we" have to get religion out of politics, we have to stop harping on abortion, gay marriage and stick to our knitting which is small government and the economy. The message should have been hammered home that only small business can get you out of your rut--"yeah you there, limping along on foodstamps. Don't you want a better life? Vote Republican. It's the DEMOCRATS that want to keep you poor so they can give you a check and get your vote. Break free, dude!"

We MUST look to our young libertarians and get them in charge of messaging. In four more years, we'll have another chance. But the old guard, and the old messengers have to go. They're dead in the water and they just dragged the country under.
that's because the power structure in the GOP is karl Rove. jhe will never see any problem with the Bush years.
This article is impressively on-target, both in detail, and on the larger picture. The problem is that the Republican Party seems incapable of comprehending its claims. Until they do, they should prepare to keep losing elections. They certainly deserved to lose this one.
I think you give too much credit to American voters for actually thinking about all the issues you mentioned. I think Obama's personality and appeal to minorities won it for him. He looked like them, and promised them "stuff," plain and simple.
Single white women went for him because he has that charm and "kool" going for himself. No, these demographics are not going to be engaged in dissecting political nuance at the local pub. What they are saying is, "that Obama, he's got some serious mojo."

Obama won in part because he got away with blatant lies

George Orwell expressed a fear in the book 1984 that leaders would gain so much influence they could: "announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it." Previously he wrote: "This prospect frightens me much more than bombs".

We seem to have reached that point. Obama claimed at the Democratic National Convention on Sept. 6th, 2012: "I'll use the money we're no longer spending on war to pay down our debt".

Yet the White House site contains his 2013 budget proposal with a table showing his planned national debt at the end of each year through 2022. It adds at least $900 billion to the debt every year, $9.6 trillion over a decade.

If a CEO lied about his company's finances to get people to buy stock, the public would cry "fraud! send him to jail!". Should we trust someone to run our government that we wouldn't trust to run a company? This isn't a one time gaffe, he has repeated it from the State of the Union in January, through dozens of speeches into October and a campaign commercial.

People failed to point out his own site contradicts him, there is no need to trust a partisan source. He'll keep lying if people don't spread the word since he gets away with it. See this short video or for more including links.
Three things.

1. As to: "EVEN REAGAN COULDN'T HAVE WON AGAINST OBAMA", nonsense. Reagan was a far more effective communicator than Romney. Romney waited too long, allowed his opponent to define him for too long without response, and never offered a positive, coherent narrative to get people to the polls. Reagan was a more skillful campaigner and communicator.

2. Obama's turnout was down by 10 million voters from 2008. However, the supposedly "fired-up" Republicans stayed home. Romney got about 2.5 million fewer voters than McCain in 2008. The culprit? White voters, supposedly the demographic that was going to put Romney over the top, stayed home. Over 6.6 million fewer White voters in 2012 than in 2008, and the Census does not support the notion that there are that many fewer voters. Romney didn't fire them up. Or they were shortsighted enough to let his Mormonism, his flip-flopping, his moderation keep them from voting.

3. Romney could have simply exploded Obama's claim that he "needed more time" to fix the recession. Very simply. In a FORBES article online on Sept. 11, 2012, it was pointed out that under Obama, the private sector portion of GDP has grown, cumulatively over 4 years, -0.3%. The Great Depression is still considered the worse financial crisis our nation ever had. FDR's record after his first 4 years? +30% cumulative growth of the private sector. Why Romney's campaign never deployed this absolutely crushing argument, in his stump speech, in the debates, wherever--I cannot understand.
Brian Richard Allen November 08, 2012 at 2:26 PM
Whenever We, The (Sovereign, American) People are offered the choice between a "Democrat" and a "democrat," we every darned time elect the "Democrat."

(Although this time the electorate's collective error of and/or absolute lack of judgement regarding the "Democrat" on offer, will indubitably both guarantee and hasten, the death of the Grand American Experiment!)
One of the many tedious tasks Conservatives must perform post-election is rationalizing failure – why did our guy lose, what valuable lessons can be learned for next time? Liberals face the opposite chore of rationalizing their success – why did our guy win when we believed he would probably lose and how can we convince those dull witted Conservatives we are here to help them while actually helping ourselves to their money over the next 4 years? And it appears the Liberals have the more enviable task since they can expand the various “why we won” themes into the standard victory celebration of their own virtues.

Of all the “why did they win” themes - from demographics was responsible to the media played a part - the high school prom queen theme is one of the most endearing and enduring. The Republican girl running for this year’s Prom Queen is described as rather plain but a good student, hard-working, polite and well-liked by old ladies. She enjoys playing the oboe after school and is vice president of the Chess Club. But going up against Mean Girls like Baracka and her BFF, Josephine, is a no win situation in the vicious campaign for this year’s Queen; she’s simply not popular enough and certainly not pretty enough.

Baracka appeals to most of the school’s cliques, the Nerds, the Jocks, the Goths, the Emos, the Druggies, the Poor Kids, the Punks and most especially to the Biebers. Physically voluptuous, smart and enchantingly cute, Baracka enjoys a wide following despite being shallow and insincere.

Unfortunately, the only clique solidly behind Mittsy is the Band Kids, loyal supporters but too few in number to secure the election, although a few within the Nerd clique are beginning to lean her way. Mittsy will lose to Baracka, every clique secretly knew that from the start, except for those dippy Band Kids who foolishly cherish the belief their fellow students all want to be Band Kids if only they could read music and learn to march.
Ritchie The Riveter November 08, 2012 at 1:26 PM
Pied Piper, all your young people have done is vote to learn a very hard lesson on socio-economic reality ... and learn it in a very hard way, that many of us avoided when presented the same choice in 1980.

What won this election for Mr. Obmaa is simple ... the Progressives have been successful in their century-long effort to persuade us to "outsource" our personal responsibility and personal initiative to that elite few at the top, thinking that they are so smart they can solve all our problems FOR us and we don't have to worry about them ourselves.

All we are doing there, is making ourselves even more vulnerable to the errors and mendacity of the human beings that make up that elite few ... who just like the "banksters", will leave us holding the bag when they fail us, as they scurry off to the think tank, the university, the lobbying firm, or government-funded retirement.
"Republicans’ major problem isn’t minority demographics or social issues. It’s that Republicans are still living with Bush’s legacy"

No, the Repulican's major problem is that they are still living with Bush’s percieved legacy.

The media have been propagandizing Bush’s legacy for the last 12 years now. It's a media fiction. If they can do that and have people believe them that is and will remain the Repulican's major problem. And if Bush wears thin they'll find someone or something else. Even Pat Cadell, a Democrat, sees this. If the media can successfully propagandize the public, our democracy, libery and freedom will be laid to waste.
Do not blame Romney - that is but a simplistic rationalization. Blame Rove et al, and give them the bill. Who is Bush, anyway?
Mitt Romney has believed that he is the "One Mighty and Strong," the Mormon messiah, similar to Joseph Smith since he was a teenager. He had that as a nickname as BYU in Provo which you can verify reading "The Real Romney," his biography. A magical world view combined with arrogance is rather the opposite to a Harry Truman or Barack Obama.

Also for the economics:
-- Tax cuts are about as inefficient as you can get for economic stimulus during a Balance Sheet Recession.
-- Energy exploration has and is being done with improved production, long lead times, and no miracles apart from natgas fracking in a very few locations
-- Cutting regulations is how the Bush Administration opened the doors for Great Depression II in 2007-2008 which Obama & Co. sidestepped.
-- Cutting the deficit is wonderful as a long term goal. After getting out of this Balance Sheet Recession.
-- Freer trade is mostly BS. As often as not these agreements lead to more debt on the part of Americans.

Add Romney's staggering propensity for lying and the discovery that Bishop Jean Vilnet was the "other driver" at that 1968 automobile accident in the southbound Left Turn lane of N524 in Beaulac France. R.I.P., Mrs. Anderson. And thank God this dangerous man Romney is being put back on the shelf with other un-vetted GOP candidates.

Well, no, he wouldn't have.

Romney permitted the Obama campaign to define him as an arrogant, rich man. It's politics 101 that you can't win an election if you permit your opponent to define who you are.

Reagan was better at the political game than that- he would not have prevented his opponent from defining him.
anti-establishment November 08, 2012 at 8:35 AM
The GOP had a candidate that young people rallied behind and that was Ron Paul. They still have his son Rand as hope for the future but the STUPID EEJITS in the party establishment ridiculed Mr Paul and will do so to his son Rand, labeling him, like they did his dad as a loon and fringe candidate. God bless Mitt Romney and his family; they are truly gracious and classy people, but unfortunately Mitt wasn't the answer. Hey GOP, get rid of the establishment (yes, that means Newt Gingrich and Karl Rove) and get behind someone like Rand Paul if you want the future. With several more trillions going to be added to our nations debt by an Obama term, we're sure going to need someone with the fiscal policies of a Ron and Rand Paul to clean it up.
A fond Farewell to the Vanished World of Wonder Bread, Sealtest Ice Cream, Aunt Jemima’s Pancake Mix, Borden’s Milk, the Sears Roebuck and Co. Catalog, and All That

Election Day, 2012, will enter the history books as a seminal date in our History. For on that date, a fundamental transformation of the America character took place, a change long since in the making, with the resounding and embarrassing thrashing of the Republican party (the party of the old guard) by the party of the future.

I remember looking at Romney during the long campaign and I kept asking myself: Who is he representing? Who is he talking to? I could never figure that answer out.

Romney and Cia. went down in ignominious defeat precisely because he was representing an America that no longer exists – even in the Midwest. (After all – and just as an example- our first “openly gay” senator just elected to Congress is from Wisconsin – as “heartland” a state as you can find. Not only that, she’s a woman to boot. (Talk about a double whammy).

But it was more than that. I remember those scallywag Republican leaders plainly stating things like “Our main job is to deny Obama a second term” and “We will not cooperate with them at all” and so on. They should have been forced to resign if that was there attitude. People like me clearly remember all that and vowed not to forget it and let no one else forget it either.

The 30s, 40s and 50s are over. They simply are. It’s a new ball game with different players. The sea change that has taken place is now a permanent part of the American panorama. Those who refuse to admit it and to adjust to it are simply living in the past and becoming more irrelevant and inconsequential as time goes on.
It's more than all this. It's personality, in the end. When Herman Cain tweeted that Obama won a personality contest he wasn't far off--it is the MAN or the WOMAN whom we elect, not just the policies or promises of policies. Obama has honesty, strength, and humor--Romney is particularly lacking in the first and the third of those qualities, and as for the second, well, that's the prerequisite: if you don't have that, well, that's like not signing your name when you take your S.A.T.s--you get 200 out of those 800 points just for signing your name.
There is really only one reason Romney and the GOP lost: he studiously avoided using the words Socialism and Socialist. Hell, he didn't even use the word "Left!"

SauL Alinsky's greatest gift to to his Communist cause was the realization that Socialists of any stripe would never win a national election if they identified themselves as such. Their best course would be to infiltrate a party and run under that cover. That's what Ayres, Dean and Axelrod did. The American Socialist Party is dead. The Democrats are, de facto, the Socialist Party. And they go to great ;engths to avoid any use of the S word. They go into frenzies of denial for being "smeared." It is the politics that dare not say its name.

For a second time, the conservative cause has played into their game. We lost because Romney based his case on 'ineptitude" and "mismanagement" instead of laying it on the line: the Obama administration is committed to changing the U.S.A. into a Socialist republic. That is a truth that is self-evident and readily demonstrated: the truth is not nastly tactics. It is what Axelrod most feared, would have placed the Democrats in a panic of rear-guard defense.

The threat to America is SOCIALISM not left-leaning wasteful bumbling. Why are conservative strategists and voices so insistent on not saying so?

I think you're correct that Romney was still running on Bush's record, but I find it absurd that we're still having this conversation. Obama has complained long and loudly, and most of the media has joined him, about Bush--but that really has nothing to do with Romney at all. And so I don't know what to make of an electorate that can't move past the GW years. For the record, I am a libertarian, not a member of either party, and I didn't particularly care for either major party candidate this go-round, so this isn't sour grapes. I just find myself dumbfounded by people continuing to harp on how awful Bush was. I disliked Bush intensely and thought his presidency was pretty terrible, but I am capable, also, of seeing that he is no longer president and Romney, whatever his strengths or weaknesses, isn't him.

I am also admittedly struck dumb by the idea that people believe the economy is making a meaningful recovery and that Sandy means we need the federal government. I'd much rather the Mormons came to help me than the federal government because the Mormons, at least, always have plentiful bottled water. I'm not saying your analysis is wrong--just that I apparently have so little in common with the average American voter that I really can't reconcile these election results. Some 60% of the electorate was saying they believe we are on the wrong track, but they just asked for at least a couple more years of that wrong track. And just within the past 24 hours, the economy isn't responding very well to that request.
As a South African I watched the election with interest and I note your comments on Romneys campaign methodology. As a political and social scientist and speaking for my own country where major change has taken place towards democracy (and is now busy reversing itself), there are seven competencies a national leader should consider: paint a compelling picture or vision of the future,grow the economy by maintaining stability, looking after the national interest, translate the needs of the electorate, bring in FDI, balance the needs of all stakeholders and mobilise the stakeholders towards a common goal. They are all interrelated. Romney was filled with ideas but he failed to prove that he could achieve that historically. We have done the same here. We have gone from a mobilised economy to one of apathy with the face of learned helplessness. Everyone is waiting to be saved instead of active participation in national growth. I see in the US the same emerging ideology. The electorate needs to understand that the head of state is not Mother Theresa, not the burning bush, does not walk on water, is not the equivalent of Joan of Arc and is not the Messiah. US leaders have defaulted as have ours as painting themselves as the one stop solution to national problems. The US now has its 'huddled masses' which like South Africa do little to change the status quo. As long as leaders lay claim as the central factor of change, they are doomed to failure. We are living this failure. We have about 35% unemployment. School is not attended. By choice! Leaders insist the young are taught in their mother tongue in primary school. Yet English is the national language. When they get to high school they cannot think in the national language and are unable to adjust to the business world where they fatuously seek work. We have violence and mass mobilisation because no jobs are provided but who wants to employ people with zero education, skills and knowledge and poor command of basic language. Huntingdon said a decade back it was the end of ideology. Wrong. The world is seeing the rise of crippling ideology (tautology intended) and with it the apathy of an electorate who expect to be fed the change they seek. Both your leaders failed to mobilise the electorate to buy into personal responsibility. It is written on our tombstone down here. QED
Excellent analysis, the best I've read.
Clearly Nicole has "thought this through" - NOT. She is giving far too much credit to the American electorate. If voters had done this sort of thinking about their vote we can only assume that they would not have voted like so many demogrphic sheep: Women, blacks, youth,and Hispanics won this election for Obama and my money is on Cain's explanation for that: they voted for Obama's exotic, rock star appeal, not because HE offered answers for any of these issues Gelinas accuses Romney of failing to address. Accoept it: the American electorate are a bunch of contradictory screwballs - otherwise why would the youth vote overwhelmingly for a President who has and will continue to drive their future into the economic ditch?
Dear Erik -- you are absolutely right about Ron Paul. "Mainstream" politicians should look to him as an example. And the main thing is: Ron Paul is honest.
EVEN REAGAN MIGHT HAVE LOST AGAINST OBAMA Your critism against Romney is largely miss placed. Yes his team could have responded against early negative vadvertising and maybe deployed surogates in Florida that talked more about the evails of Obamacare. Bottom line Obama did a better job getting blacks, hispanics and the young out to vote. Romney's message was good and his team did what they were expected to do. Yes we had some idioatic Senate candidates that did not help with the womens vote but Romney could not change that.
Mostly agree, except with the conclusions about young voters. Minority demographics and social issues are important. And I disagree that "exuberant young people can mean only one thing, it's a bad sign for the GOP." Young people were plenty exuberant about Ron Paul. He is not going to be the GOP standard bearer, of course, but if the party vectors away from immigrant-bashing and government interference in our personal lives and towards libertarianism and - dare I say it - genuine compassionate conservativism, young voters will respond.