'It Ain't Over 'til It's Over': What to Do NowBy Paul Murphy
In all the crying and wailing going on about Mr. Obama's continued presence in the White House two things seem to be completely missing:
What happened is painfully obvious:
1. The Romney campaign gambled that excluding certain Tea Party players like Sarah Palin would give them enough credibility with the mainstream media for their candidates to get the conservative message out.
This failed. What the GOP saw as a sacrifice aimed at reducing the barriers to communication, the major media players involved saw as vindication. As a result, most responded by doubling down on their support for Mr. Obama -- while millions of excluded Tea Party supporters were left unable to commit emotionally to the Romney campaign.
2. The Romney campaign bought into the notion that Mr. Obama is somehow likeable and that personal attacks on his credibility, history, associates, and loyalties would therefore rebound against their candidate.
It is not clear whether that was right or wrong, but the strategy certainly failed, because the GOP establishment's refusal to go after Mr. Obama personally allowed the Democrats and their JournoList fellow travelers to define the agenda for public policy discussions. As a result, they were able to convince many Americans that the real differences between the parties on issues of critical national importance, including states' rights, personal freedoms, the rule of law, and the role of government in the economy, are quite minor. They then rejoiced in an avalanche of exaggeration with respect to differing views on Christian religious practice, gay marriage, and a woman's right to kill her children.
3. For at least the last decade, the GOP in general, and most recently the Romney campaign in particular, has ignored the simple reality that people who dedicate their lives to achieving left-wing agendas through politics willingly cheat, whereas people who treat politics as merely the expression of earned values through service tend not to.
"The dead vote Democrat" -- it's a joke, but it's also true. Had the dead, the felons, the non-citizens, and those who didn't show up at the polls not voted in Ohio and Florida this time around, Romney would have won both states and would be working on his inauguration speech right now. Nationally Obama won by less than 2% -- by less than 100,000 votes in Ohio and less than 40,000 in Florida.
So that's what happened: the Romney people had a very decent candidate, a principled plan, and good discipline -- but the plan didn't work. The other side fully exploited self-imposed weaknesses in campaign messaging...and let's not forget that Democrats cheat.
So we are where we are. Now what?
I want to suggest three inter-locking strategies: short-, middle-, and somewhat longer-term.
In the short term, the GOP must fight the count. Romney should never have conceded, and he must now find a reason to "unconcede." It's alarming advice to give the GOP, but in this the party must behave as the Democrats do. Try to imagine, for example, how the Obama campaign would have reacted if the numbers in Florida were reversed; if Scot Brown seemed guilty of practicing law without a license and won anyway; if a half-dozen major precincts responsible for electing Republicans claimed turnouts of 99% or more; if the Romney campaign had rather obviously both solicited and accepted foreign money.
I know we'd all like to be better than that -- but we're not going to save Democratic voters from their leaders without breaking through the social and political barriers that leadership have put in place to protect their positions. Ask your neighbors, your family members, anyone who votes Democrat but isn't fanatical about it: do they want $8 gas? Thirty million unemployed Americans? Dysfunction in health care and the military? Brownouts and power rationing? More illegals? Further corruption in the Department of Justice? Most will say no, but they voted for people whose policies have been shown to lead to these outcomes and worse...so why? Because we thought we're better than that -- and, in acting on that belief, abandoned more than half of all Americans to people who treat a lie as just another tool, who have no shame and no loyalties beyond themselves.
So we have to do it -- and we start by denying Obama any aura of legitimacy. We fight the count, we impeach on Libya, we go after him personally and in every possible way.
In the middle-term, the GOP should turn to its financial backers -- and those backers should move to take over major media players.
There's real money to be made playing the news game fairly -- and most of the major liberal media are financially weak, with many of their strongest people sidelined for harboring inappropriate political views. Gannet, Time Warner, and McClatchy are all horrifically unbalanced but great properties nevertheless. Republicans should buy these -- and run them as real news and entertainment businesses, not as propaganda outlets.
What's killing the traditional media isn't technology or the market; it's their absolute focus on supporting only the low-information, solidly Democrat voter. Remove that limitation, and the GOP gets a level playing field, the American public gets information from both sides, and the new owners get to make money the old-fashioned way: by refocusing undervalued assets on the business, not somebody else's political goals.
In the longer term, the electoral integrity problem must be addressed -- with a clean, trusted system on its way in by 2014 and solidly in place by 2016.
The electoral system, from registration to reporting, is politically complex but technically rather simple: get a list of eligible voters, match those who show up to vote with the right ballots, collect their votes, and report totals. Nothing to it...
Setting aside the practicality of getting it done, the solution is to drop voter registration entirely in favor of listing every adult citizen of every state as eligible to vote, abandon absentee and early voting entirely, and enable electronic voting from whereever the voter is, in the country or around the world, on election day.
The technology and management controls needed for this have been around for a decade -- and using them could reduce the public costs of elections by a factor or ten or more -- but the getting it done bit, that's the hard part.
This spring, there will be thirty or more Republican governors in office, and because vote management is fundamentally a local rights issue, the process has to start with them. What's needed is a states' rights partnership that will design and administer one set of rules across the electoral landscape. There is good reason to believe that when the other twenty or so states join the partnership, all the recounts, mistrust, and lawsuits we see now will, along with federal intervention and its attendant costs, just -- poof -- disappear from the electoral landscape.
Paul Murphy is the pseudonym of a retired IT consultant now living in beautiful Lethbridge, Alberta.
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