The theme through out this election was the economy. After all, America’s economic situation has looked grim for some time now. High unemployment, rising gas prices, slow growth, and just a general fear of the future has dominated the news. Thus the Romney campaign naturally focused on what was seemingly president Obama’s greatest weakness, his economic inexperience, and his failed policies. Governor Romney, and most of the conservative pontificaters like Carl Rove and Dick Morris, figured focusing on just the economy would be a winning strategy, as most Americans vote with their wallet.
This thinking would have been spot on, accept the GOP operatives unwittingly left one critical component out of their strategy that snatched victory away from governor Romney–Capitalism had been redefined, and accepted by at least half of the electorate to include government as part of the American business enterprise. The voting block for traditional free enterprise had been narrowed. Many Americans no longer had the stomach for the kind of capitalism governor Romney was promoting.Traditional capitalism, once the hall mark of America, would now be seen as a selfish and dangerous game of survival of the fittest.
Thus republicans were seen as representing the party of “greed is good”, a narrative that president Obama’s team was able to pin on the republican party, and thus Mitt Romney as there representative. This seemingly selfish worldview had its foundation in philosopher Ayn Rand, the author of Atlas Shrugged, and TheVirtue of Selfishness, who vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan was promoting during the campaign. This hard corp Laissez-Faire capitalism was seen as a “dog eat dog” economic battle ground, where each man was pitted against another in a fight for economic prosperity, winner take all and to hell with the loser. Of course this was not exactly what our Founders had in mind, nor Paul Ryan, with their vision of free enterprise coupled with the virtue of grace benefitting all Americans. But governor Romney was not able to communicate this idea, or show the inherent dangers of debt financing and how it would drastically effect the working class–the largest voting block.
Unfortunately though, some in the GOP, and Wall st. have attached themselves to this rather ruthless philosophy of Randian economics, and conservatives are paying dearly for it. Thus supporting free market capitalism over and above others who have not fared as well has created a bitterness, and an increasing attention to the growing disparity between the rich and poor. President Obama has taken full advantage this economic polarization,which ironically is the fault of many of his policies, and those of the Democrat party.
I believe President Obama saw the 99 percent vs. the one percent rallies as a watershed opportunity to forge a group of disenchanted Americans into a voting block of social change. The president adroitly maneuvered his campaign to show that the economic problems our nation is facing are a direct result of the economic policies that the republicans have fostered all along. Change was in the political wind, and the president smelled it well before the GOP. Even if he had to ask for another four years to accomplish his goals, the people were ready to unload old-time capitalism in favor of a government sponsored capital enterprise (stealth socialism). The words president Obama used were the same as Romney’s; economic freedom, liberty , capitalism, but the meanings were vastly different. No longer would the old phrase of “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” be favorable. Instead, the presidents vision would be simple, “Give a man a fish from your plenty or Government will do it for you .” The new capitalism would be about giving, not lending. I have a notion, that in a odd way, this has been part of the problem for the republican party–profit ahead of generosity equals greed to many voters. Perception or the real thing, the GOP free-market ideology was not resonating.
Another area of concern that President Obama had going for him, was that he was seen by his voting block as a peacemaker abroad. The GOP was characterized by the Obama supporters as a colonial oppressors, always looking to take advantage of mineral rich nations and cheap labor. As cordial and mannerly as Mitt Romney was, he represented a party that President Obama successfully demonized as outdated, oppressive socially, and internationally.
Finally, although I disagree with the President and his supporters on many issues, I think the area that we conservatives can improve on, making our case for economic prosperity much better, is caring for those less fortunate then ourselves. If we truly care about our country, then we need to take a vested interest in those who really need help, as opposed to categorizing fellow Americans without jobs, or disabled, as a group of malcontents, or simply just avoiding this group of downtrodden altogether. Corporate America, and our churches can, and must take a greater role in helping the working poor in a number of ways; programs such as grants for job training, building shelters, and food banks to name a few. Some of this philanthropic work does go on, but it is far short of what it could be. In the end, if we want government to truly be limited, then we have to be willing to do more. Had governor Romney even touched base with some of these more gracious free enterprise philosophies, I am certain he would have won the election. This is the New Capitalism, get used to it.