We live in a world where people often get judged based on results. We celebrate winners and criticize losers.
In the coming months, Mitt Romney will likely face great criticism, especially as the Republican Party engages in “soul-searching” at its “crossroads.” Journalists and commentators will argue that Romney was a flawed candidate who ran a flawed campaign. Everybody will take turns telling stories about why Romney lost: Where did Mitt go wrong? Was it Big Bird? Binders full of women? The 47 percent? His tax returns? Or Clint Eastwood’s empty chair?
Now that the election is over, and with the benefit of hindsight, many people will blame Mitt Romney. Such is the nature of our consequentialist ethic.
But I prefer to offer an alternative perspective.
Remember the candidates running in the Republican primaries? Mitt Romney was probably the most credible candidate that the GOP could have put up. Herman Cain was dogged by scandals. Ron Paul was unelectable. Rick Santorum would have won few states outside the old Confederacy. Newt Gingrich had too much baggage from the 1990s. And then there was Donald Trump.
Romney is an admirable man: wealthy, handsome, and well-liked. He was educated at America’s best schools. He has a beautiful wife and five children. He has had an extraordinarily successful life: Olympic organizer, Bain Capital co-founder, Mormon bishop, Governor of Massachusetts.
The primary voters were right to pick Romney. The fastest horse doesn’t always win, but you should still bet on it.
Although Mitt Romney lost, he still put up a credible fight. He chose a smart, articulate running mate who did a decent job of debating Joe Biden. And notwithstanding the Electoral College landslide, Romney still got 57 million votes, or about 48 percent of the electorate.
The Republicans probably lost for reasons bigger than Mitt Romney’s errors. True, America has suffered from 8 percent unemployment and $4-per-gallon gas. But negative memories of George W. Bush remain strong, and many Americans remain reluctant to give another Republican the keys to the White House.
Just as the American people once gave eight years to Reagan, Clinton, and Bush II, so too have the people decided that Obama should be given a second chance to determine if his governing ideology can deliver long-term results. Although the initial romance of Hope and Change has faded, Uncle Sam wants to give the marriage a second chance.
In science, we accept evolution. So let it be with politics. The excesses of the Nixon Administration begat the Carter era. The failures of the Carter era begat the Reagan Revolution. The Reagan Revolution begat Clintonian centrism. Clintonian centrism begat Bush Republicanism. And Bush Republicanism begat the backlash that led to the Obama era. Each iteration improved on past problems, although introducing new ones. Whatever one thinks about Obama’s policies, America’s current trajectory still serves a function: to help our democracy figure out what approaches work and what doesn’t.
Chris Seck is a 3L. His column runs on Wednesdays
The views in opinion editorials, columns, and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of The Record.