So sure was Mitt Romney that he was going to come out ahead that the 2012 Republican presidential candidate had reportedly only prepared a victory speech and no concession speech.
What that suggests is that Romney and his group were surprisingly disconnected from the greater reality of America today. They were so focused on the voices of their own choir, so cloistered in their corner of the world that they were in denial about what is, and was during the campaign, in reality happening outside of their Fox News-informed world.
That typically inward looking American trait proved the path to their decisive loss of the key prize: crowning their chosen Republican as king of America for the next four years.
When it comes to voting in the West, it is a numbers game and the numerical clout of the so-called religious right is ebbing in the U.S. at this time.
The Republican strategists’ decision to lean on far-right conservative iconography to pull in votes – the anti-abortion and legitimate rape planks stand out – brings to mind the same path taken by the Wild Rose Party in Alberta some months ago. The stereotypes these aspirants gravitate to are dated and have nostalgic currency for a dwindling group that takes its cues from television shows of the 1950s, fantasies of idealized worlds that never truly existed.
This is ironic because in the larger tapestry of life, at the very same time that Hollywood director Steven Spielberg, who is both Jewish and a Democrat, is releasing his homage to the historic American Civil War period, the fight to end slavery that has the image of President Abraham Lincoln stamped on it, a number of states, most of them in the South, are agitation for secession through online petitions.
This then explains why President Barack Obama went out of his way during his victory speech last week to passionately emphasize that America is “not a collection of red states and blue states, but the United States of America”.
Despite the precedent setting re-election of Obama to the U.S. presidency, America will become a more dangerous place. Why? When the people who feel they have a natural right to privilege and power in a society see themselves as losing that status, you can be sure some will begin to consider themselves “victims”.
People who think of themselves as victims often engage in erratic and risky actions that involve harm to others, if not to themselves. But it is important to make a clear distinction between true victims, people who have been targeted for harm and those who because of their own mindset feel put upon by the world.
America and Europe are grappling with changing identity related to changing demographics. The transition is not going over easily. Conservatives are by definition people who do not want change; they want to keep the status quo.
So there is euphoria over Obama’s re-election but that exuberance should not get in the way of seeing that the commonalities of racial and ideological tensions sweeping large swatches of our world are significantly at play.
A note on affectations for the sake of votes…
One of the important factors that regularly come into play among campaigners who don’t get the top vote in American presidential campaigns is the always fatal strategy of adopting an affected persona or any number of affected personas in a desperate attempt to scare up votes.
It happened to Mitt Romney as he transformed from Tea Party parrot to moderate conservative to whatever he could to get on side with the right of centre base or the undecided.
It happened back in the 2007-2008 U.S. Democratic nomination process for president when Hillary Clinton allowed her handlers to convince her to go drinking whisky and eating pizza in Pennsylvania bars, and talking about her gun-toting childhood adventures among the normal folk in an attempt to play identity politics.
Her main competitor in the Democratic presidential primary, Barack Obama, got the final nod in part because he appeared to be just as you saw him. He didn’t veer from his public persona in order to win votes. He had lots of time to work that kind of stuff out as he went from being “Barry” to Barack.
Clinton has hopefully learned her lesson because, like the Summer Olympics that come around on the same cycle as the U.S. presidential elections, preparations begin as soon as the last competition ends. To America’s next presidential hopefuls, 2016 is not that far away.