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Ron Radosh

Why Obama Won — and What Conservatives Must Do

November 6th, 2012 - 10:15 pm

Fourth: The Republicans, who indeed may have obtained many of the white working-class vote (the so-called Reagan Democrats of past campaigns), cannot count on winning national elections and to be a national majority party if they count only on the votes of a diminishing white working-class and on the votes of Southern states alone. In this sense, the theory of John B. Judis and Ruy Teixeira of an “emerging Democratic majority,” which is based on their demographic picture of the electorate, is apparently beginning to prove fairly persuasive. That means that to win, Republicans have to change their strategy and the nature of the appeals they make to the country at large. It is not enough to say simply that “if we strongly advance conservative principles, we will win.”

Five: Romney did not convince voters, as Florida and Ohio voters said to the press who asked, that he cared for people like them. Obama, they said, showed that he cared and understood their problems. In other words, Obama was successful in his portrayal of Romney as a spoiled man of wealth who cared only for the profit of vulture capitalists, such as those at Bain Capital as it was portrayed by the Democrats.

Six: What does the future portend? Already, the centrist Democrat Lanny Davis penned an op-ed on Fox News’ website, arguing that he should make three phone calls to “three conservative Republican senators who care about the country and who want to solve problems more than winning ideological wars.” They are, he writes, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Orrin Hatch. Together, he argues, Obama can create a “broad center-left and center-right bipartisan majority congress and actually start to solve problems facing our country.”

Good luck, Lanny. My own belief is that the president will argue that the nation has given him a mandate and endorsed the policies he sought to pursue, and that he will do all he can to move the United States to the “fundamental transformation” he said was his goal in the 2008 election campaign. That means the opposite of any attempt for serious compromise, and a hunkering down to try to move ahead with Obama Care and other politically leftist programs. He will try to mobilize the nation against the Republicans, who managed to hold control of the House of Representatives.

Seven: So what should conservatives do, now that the nation has elected Barack Obama to a second term? The popular vote is fairly split evenly, and we are still a divided nation.  Politically, there is nothing ahead but continued stalemate in Congress. The president will attempt to move ahead via executive branch fiat, thereby bypassing Congress.

In this atmosphere, it is foolhardy to give the nation evidence that failure to try and solve problems that are confronting us is the fault of Republicans and conservatives. Those opposed to the direction Obama favors should provide serious and meaningful alternatives of their own, and present them to the nation. They should do everything possible to reveal to the nation that it is the White House, and not the defeated Republicans, that is failing to deal with the coming crisis of a growing entitlement state.

In foreign policy, which is the most dangerous of the coming crises that will face the Obama administration, conservatives should relentlessly forge ahead on issues like the failure of the White House in the murders of our diplomats at Benghazi, which candidate Romney foolishly failed to deal with in the last days of the campaign, and to see to it that there is a change in direction from the failed policies of the past four years. It also means a continuing effort to raise the issue of the danger to the world of the growing radical Islamic movements abroad, to attack their ideology, and to make it clear that although Bin Laden is dead, his death did not put an end to a regrouped al-Qaeda.

Finally, it is essential that conservative intellectuals do not abandon the effort to change the culture, and to, in Gramscian terms (as the late Gene Genovese often put it), wage a war of position on the cultural front and to do all possible to challenge the ascension of a failed intellectual liberal ideology, whether it be in the form of Progressivism, liberalism or socialism. Whether it is called “the blue model” as Walter Russell Mead calls is, or something else, the intellectual fight against its assertions must begin with all the strength we can muster.

So we all have our work cut out for us. Let us hope our nation gets through the next four years, and that the president takes Lanny Davis’ call to heed, and does not act as I fear he will.

UPDATE:

With 448 comments so far, there is no way that I can address any issues various people have made. I do recommend three must-read articles that deal with the issue of why Romney won and that make some good points. The first is my D.G. Meyers, the second by Michael Medved, and the third is an editorial in the Wall Street Journal. I am in general agreement on the points these various writers make, and they speak to many of my critics and the arguments they present

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