This American election has been amongst the most hotly contested in living memory. In the end, the Democrats pulled ahead with a surprisingly large margin of victory in an election which, right up to the wire, was “too close to call”. So how did Mitt Romney fall so far, at the final hurdle?
Romney began his political career as the governor of Massachusetts. In the liberal state, Romney was a fairly moderate Republican.
In 2011, he announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination. It was a bitterly contested race, and Moderate Mitt faced opposition from more extreme elements within the party. Who could forget Rick Santorum, so “beloved” of liberals nationwide that a campaign ran to coin a neologism of “Santorum”? Google it at your peril. Eventually, Romney snatched the nomination – but he was faced with a party divided.
Immediately, the backpedalling began. Romney revised his views and his stance on the economy, healthcare, abortion and welfare all became significantly more conservative.
His hardline economic views had bleak prospects for America’s working class. His opposition to the Federal Emergency Maintenance Agency (Fema) came under intense scrutiny in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy’s devastation, leading to Republican governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie’s, glowing praise of Obama.
Romney frequently and vitriolically espoused his hatred for Obamacare, isolating the millions whose lives have been changed by the availability of free healthcare.
Gaffe after gaffe exposed the Republican’s archaic views on women. Todd Akin, that loveable rogue, enlightened us all as to the definitions of “legitimate” rape. He confounded a nation of medical experts with his declaration that women cannot get pregnant from “forcible” rape.
Obama’s sweeping victory in 2008 rode on the shoulders of previously forgotten elements of the electorate: women and minorities. However, the 2012 Republican campaign seemingly ignored this sweeping electoral change. After all, Obama’s popularity had plummeted; he had lost his mojo. Surely lightning could not strike twice.
The Republicans grossly miscalculated. They banked on the votes of angry white men, the demographic that had swept them to victory eight years prior. They did not, however, consider the change that had swept America. Women, once an electoral minority, may have decided this election. Obama won nearly 70% of the female vote, in a clear rejection of the Republican’s outdated and insulting policies.
African Americans and Hispanic voters once again voted overwhelmingly for Obama. In Romney, America had a white, middle class, conservative candidate; in Obama, a mixed-race president born to a single mother in Hawaii by way of Indonesia and Chicago. Obama is the embodiment of the modern, multi-cultural American dream.
If America is the land of the free, it is now also the land of the minority. The Republicans ignored that fact at their detriment. Now, any chance of securing victory in 2016 depends on their ability to adapt. They must understand the unique issues facing America’s minorities. They must be willing to learn. America is changing, and the Republican Party must change with it or perish in the wasteland of electoral irrelevance.