In US politics, you don’t get to go back and try again if you lose a Presidential election.
Which makes the Washington Post’s article about Mitt Romney rather odd: not many Presidential candidates that I recall have lost as definitively as Romney did – while arrogantly so sure he would win that he claimed not to have had a concession speech written.
That may have been the problem: Mitt Romney didn’t go outside, turn round three times, and spit. The wrath of the whatever, from high atop the thing.
Actually no. The problem really appears to have been that the Republicans thought that women voters didn’t matter, and Hispanic voters didn’t matter, and Muslim voters didn’t matter because the First Amendment only applies to Christianity anyway, African-American voters didn’t matter, and LGBT voters and allies didn’t matter, and especially women voters didn’t matter, because they could certainly win the election with votes from white straight men who also didn’t care about “women’s issues” like rape or contraception, and certainly not about LGBT equality or racism.
They really did believe they could win on that basis.
And then they didn’t.
In a similar frame, David Cameron and his cronies think that poor people don’t matter (and furthermore, are probably shirkers), and disabled people don’t matter (if they don’t want to do workfare, they’re shirkers), and the NHS doesn’t matter, and of course unemployed people don’t matter, and that no one wealthier will care about people worse off than themselves, because Cameron and his cronies don’t.
The problem with that attitude, really, is that it’s such a vote loser and at the same time encourages Labour to run to the right. The Overton window shifts when the Tories are talking extreme right-wing nonsense like cutting benefits for any family with more than two children and compulsory workfare for disabled people. Plus, really, most of the time, what choice do we have if we want to get the Tories out in 2015?
And Labour know this: if their bar is really “not as bad as the Tories” that’s now a fairly low bar.
What struck me about that article, too, is that Romney’s staffer is comparing him to Al Gore.
One longtime counselor contrasted Romney with former vice president Al Gore, whose weight gain and beard became a symbol of grievance over his 2000 loss. “You won’t see heavyset, haggard Mitt,” he said.
Yeah: except Al Gore actually won in 2000. He won the popular vote, which Mitt Romney didn’t, and he won the electoral college vote, and the Republicans stole the election. Twelve years later, that didn’t work: but US politics has – irrevocably? – skewed so far to the right that a conservative President looks like a liberal.
Will that happen in the UK?