On the loss

The vast majority of conservative thinkers thought that the polls were weighted too heavily toward the Democrats, and that Romney would win. In fact, the polls were right, and the vast majority of conservative thinkers were wrong.

So starting Wednesday, collectively from the right side of the Internet, there was an outcry: We were robbed! Obama cheated! The election was stolen!

Oh, wait. That didn’t happen.

Actually, what happened was a lot of mea culpas. From the guys I read (we’re not talking anonymous blog commenters here. They’re terrible on both sides.) there was surprise, disappointment, and honesty: Wow. We read this totally wrong. The electorate is not what we thought it was.

I’m disappointed too. There are permanent consequences to this election. But the reaction on the right gives me hope. There can be sober analysis without self-delusion, and we can learn from this. If we’re willing.

***

As many on the right have pointed out, the USA is not a center-right country anymore. A center-right country does not elect Barack Obama twice. Republicans must realize this, and here for me is the most important point we must take away from this election: We must find leaders who can persuade.

We need guys who will go before hostile and skeptical audiences and make the conservative case, across the board. We need to refuse to be portrayed as anti-poor, anti-woman. These are lies, and they need to make us angry. Instead of being terrified that we’ll look anti-poor or anti-woman, we need to show righteous indignation at that charge. We need to point out that those attacks are simply fear-mongering, and show exactly why our policies are better for the poor, better for women, and so on.

We need a nominee who will go to the NAACP and say “You’ve been voting lock-step with the Democrats for 50 years. Has it gotten you anywhere?” We need a nominee who will go on with Jon Stewart, laugh some at his own expense, and then absolutely destroy the cliché arguments that get thrown at him– and have fun doing it.

We can’t play it safe anymore. We have to talk about big ideas, knowing that about 55% of the country is not inclined to agree. We have to change their minds.

***

Along those lines, here’s a speech I kept wanting Romney to give this summer:

You know, the other side’s been talking about me having a lot of money. He’s right. I made a ton of money last year, and I gave a ton of money away. You know how I got my money? I’m damned good at my job. You know what my job is? I come in and fix things when they’re bad. I take things that are losing money and make them make money. Then the people in charge make money, and they hire more people, and those people make money. I’ve done this a lot.

I also raised some eyebrows the other day when I said I like being able to fire people. You know what? I do like being able to fire people. I think if people don’t do their job well, they ought to be fired. Their bosses ought to fire them. That’s called “accountability,” and we need more of it in Washington, not less.

Now I’m asking you for a job. You’re the people in charge. I’m asking you for another chance to do what I’m really good at: Turning things around. And if you hire me, and I don’t perform, then you get to fire me. How’s that sound?

If the president wants to talk about my money or my background, that’s fine. I welcome that talk. I’d go up for a job interview against this guy any day of the week.

We all get to dream, you know.

***

With this, I’m taking a little break from politics for a bit. Which brings me to my final thought: I have a ton of respect for the guys who do this stuff for a living– the Senators and congressmen and governors and all that. Because after a bummer election, I can stop thinking about it for awhile, but they have to get up the next morning and figure out what to do– how to regroup, where to compromise and where to stand firm, all that. I don’t envy them.

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