(COMIC) Pants On Fire
Jokes and ribaldry aside, there are some things Romney did (or didn’t do) that hurt his campaign: he had problems answering direct questions about his fiscal plans, he came off as a handsome, rich, out of touch weirdo, and he contradicted himself every other week. However, there are two major issues that really hurt him: his faith, and his own party.
Unfortunately, his faith worked against him. Mormonism, despite sounding just as believable (on paper) as any other religion, has a bad rap with its polygamy. The practice of having many wives is often attributed (erroneously) to the entirety of Mormons, and Romney could not escape that stigma.
One man having many wives is pretty creepy to most Americans, especially when polygamy was first recently thrust into the spotlight during the Waco tragedy in the 90’s – - pretty much anytime America hears about polygamy, some cult leader gets raided and found with a bunch of underage wives. To outsiders, polygamy (and by extension, Mormonism) is just one long, creepy, uncomfortable episode of Law and Order: SVU. It’s not fair, but that’s how it is. Polygamy seems to be supported by the Christian Bible, but as with most Christianity, we pick and choose the parts we want to believe and follow, and ignore the rest that seems strange or contradictory. As a nation founded (originally) by Christian values, polygamy was one of the things we did not choose to follow, as evident by Romney’s family, who left the United States for Mexico to continue its practice. Kennedy was able to surpass initial scrutiny and criticism about his Catholic faith, but for Romney, the current political climate and his alliance with the GOP seemed to nullify his attempt to reassure the American public that his personal faith would not in any way influence his decision making abilities as a President – - chiefly because of the tarnished brand the GOP has with faith and the Evangelical movement, which leads me to my second point.
Romney and the Republican Party
If you consider yourself a Republican or a Conservative and you want to run for office, then you better throw away all your moderate ideas and completely surrender to GOP dogma. Romney used to be a fairly moderate, sensible guy, but when he had to rely on the Republican party to run for President, his message changed dramatically – - the same thing happened to McCain. If these two politicians had kept their earlier, more moderate political views, they could’ve possibly done better with more voting demographics and won against Obama. Romney allied himself with the GOP, which has lost their way since they signed an (deliciously ironic) Faustian pact the Evangelicals during the Reagan era – - the Evangelicals being concerned with very particular social issues have proven to be an intractable, extreme, and very influential element within the Republic party.
The GOP has come off as thinly veiled racists, misogynists, and homophobes. Their image is that of a bunch of screaming old white guys, their faces red and twisted into some ugly hate-mask. They use phrases like “Let’s Take this Country Back” and “Don’t Re-Nig 2012”, and all of this has taken a lot of the legitimacy from the party for many non-whites, many women, young people (of all ethnicities), and the gay community. The Republican party did not do enough damage control in distancing themselves from their pundits and politicians who said dumb and offensive things , instead letting the poison of those outrageous statements tarnish their image, and by extension, Romney.
As a nation, need a sensible and Conservative voice to temper and test the Liberal voice. Good ideas can come from the Right, and I would love to see disparate view points intelligently debated. The Republicans are not doing that, mainly because they lost most their intellectuals when “Dubya” was in office. The GOP need to get their intellectuals back and they can do that by dropping the Christian Evangelical social paradigm, make a real effort to reach out and include minorities and progressive women within their hallowed walls, drop the old, angry white guy image, and just focus on small government and a balanced economy – - no more social issues. Just go back to being Tax Nerds. Legalize marijuana and tax it, fairly. Stop kowtowing to big corporations and start reigning them in, fiscally. You were the party of economic responsibility and fairness, who had little to say about how people lived their personal lives. BE THOSE GUYS AGAIN. WE NEED YOU.