A guest post from reader Edgar Harris

Now that the election is over and the results are in, the Republican Party is attempting to understand just what happened on November 6. It’s understandable if Republicans are at a bit of a loss. Going into this election season Obama looked like the underdog. The economic recovery has been anemic at best, and even Obama’s core achievement, Obamacare, remains largely unpopular. Obama was vulnerable, and yet he not only won by an electoral landslide, but Democrats also managed to pick up seats in the Senate and the House.

In trying to understand what happened, many Republicans are falling prey to their worst instincts. Many Republicans are concluding that Americans voted for Obama because they feel entitled to things. We can see examples of this in Bill O’Reilly’s election tirade, or Ann Coulter’s meltdown. This fits nicely with the Republican narrative of dividing the nation into givers and takers. However this narrative is not only wildly inaccurate (92% of Americans believe hard work is key to getting ahead), it’s also insulting to the rest of us. What’s worse, it keeps Republicans from understanding the real reasons why they lost the election. Until Republicans understand why they were rejected they cannot hope to recover from their predicament.

I’m hoping to help Republicans understand why they lost. I’m afraid I can’t explain why other people voted for Obama, but I can explain why I voted for Obama. In response to a comment I made on one of Scott A. Robinson’s post, Jason Hudson asked me to name my top two reasons for supporting Obama. I’m going to do you three better, here’s five:

5. Too Many Mitts As a former Conservative I can appreciate changing positions. Sometimes we learn new information that conflicts with our current views, so we change our views to match the facts. What I can’t abide is someone that constantly changes their positions to better align with the political climate. Mitt Romney has changed positions on health care, foreign policy, global warming, and abortion, just to name a few. Each time Romney changed positions it was in response to the political climate.

4. Immigration Any reasonable immigration policy needs to take into account that we’re talking about real people with real families and real lives. A humane policy needs to provide a path to citizenship even for those that here illegally. Breaking up families with deportation is neither humane nor beneficial. Obama supports comprehensive immigration reform while Romney made calls for “self-deportation”.

3. No To Brinkmanship In their book “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks” Mann and Ornstein tell the story of the Conrad-Gregg Act. Conrad-Gregg enjoyed wide bipartisan support. It was even co-sponsored by several Republicans. However once Obama endorsed Conrad-Gregg every single Republican joined to filibuster the act, because they decided it was more important to stop Obama from getting credit than it was to do the right thing for their country (Mann Ornstein x). This is just one example of Republicans refusal to work with Obama. There is also the all too familiar hostage taking strategy Republicans employed during the deficit ceiling debates. Had Obama lost we would have sent a message that hostage taking and brinkmanship are winning political strategies. That’s not the right message to send to our politicians.

2. No To Zombies Do you ever wonder if tax cuts for the highest incomes really stimulate the economy? Do you have a hard time buying into trickle-down economics? You’re not alone. There are numerous studies that show tax cuts for the highest quintile have no measurable impact on the economy’s performance, including the CRS report that was blocked by the GOP. In fact there really isn’t any strong evidence to back these ideas up. These are dead ideas that manage to keep living, or as John Quiggin called them in his book “Zombie Economics”, Zombies. These ideas limp on in large part because they are taken as articles of faith within the Republican Party. When I voted for Obama I voted to shoot these ideas in the head.

1. Obamacare Health care in this country is an embarrassment. We spend more on healthcare than people in other industrialized nations and we don’t live as long. Furthermore we were ranked last among 6 other industrialized nations for providing the best healthcare. The status quo is not working for us. Obamacare, for all its warts, tries to address many of these issues. If Obama lost, it no doubt would have been in large part a reaction to Obamacare. Politicians have great survival instincts, and health care reform would have become a poisoned pill. No Obamacare would mean an end to health care reform for at least twenty years. Note: This is the one item on this list that includes an expansion of entitlements by expanding Medicaid. I can assure you these expansions won’t extend to me.

There you have my top five reasons for voting for Obama. There are certainly more, but I wanted to keep the list easily digestible. I think it’s important to point out that of the five items on this list, three of those items are reasons I voted against Romney and only two are reasons I voted for Obama. My vote for Obama was just as much a vote against Romney and the Republican Party as it was a vote for Obama.


  • http://www.facebook.com/boyd.parkinson Boyd Parkinson

    Edgar asked me to respond in this forum so here it is. I don’t agree with Edgar but I don’t have many real answers myself either. I simply believe that the political system is broken. I am very frustrated with both parties but liberalism and Socialism just doesn’t work for me either so I can’t side with the democrats. That makes me a republican because I can’t waste my votes on 3rd parties that may be closer to my viewpoints but have no chance of success at the ballot box. Here are my thoughts.

    5 Politicians all play to their audience. They all take polls to see where they are most likely to get the most support and then adopt that position. Politics has become a game where all that is important is winning. It is stupid. Money is the biggest problem. When NAFTA was the political hot potato of the day the democrats were raising hell with the republicans about shipping all of our jobs to Mexico and Canada. Oddly enough, it was Bill Clinton that had to push NAFTA through because that is what the people who paid to get him into the White House wanted. The Chinese have long known that America’s politicians are for sale. So does every lobbyist.

    4 The extreme right of the republican party want to blame all of America’s problems on illegal immigrants. I don’t think Mitt was really in that camp but I don’t have the documentation to prove it. It reminds me of the Nazis blaming all of the problems in Germany on the rich Jews (Oh wait it is Obama who is blaming everything on the rich). Either way it doesn’t work. Economic reality would never allow deportation of all illegal immigrants. It would kill the economy and that wouldn’t make sense to Mitt.

    3 Anecdotal evidence can be found in both parties for this one. Why does congress have about a 10% approval rating? Neither side will work with the other side. Blaming the republicans is simply naive. Mr. Reid has made it very clear he has no intention of working with Republicans. Currently compromise appears dead in Washington.

    2 What democrats represent as tax cuts for the highest incomes are incentives for investing in companies and jobs. Businesses need investment to create companies and jobs. Stock markets and private equity firms provide some of that investment capital. I do see the downsides as well. I don’t believe that Mitt should pay less in tax (on a percentage basis) than middle class tax payers. That is what the ATM tax was supposed to fix but like most laws the people we want targeted by the law get exemption based upon loopholes and protection of congress whom that have bought and paid for.

    Utah is a great example of trickle down economics. Governor Herbert and the Utah house and Senate provide tax incentives and a business friendly environment and it has paid off. We have one of the strongest economies in the country.

    1 Healthcare is a very complex issue. The very creation of insurance is what started the problems with healthcare. There is one rule in the insurance business. It is that the insurance company makes money. (That is why Warren Buffet is in the insurance business) Insurance sold itself by saying if we band together then we can negotiate better rates. We all know that just made the Dr falsely raise his costs so he can cover his loss by working with the group. I had insurance for physical therapy. My daughter reached the max the insurance would pay and so the therapist accepted the copay for his fees for the rest of the year until he could get paid again by the insurance. He still wanted money coming in. Once insurance was in place, then doctors were insulated from having to tell the 90 year old woman on a fixed income that her bill was $xxxx.xx bucks and that she needed to buy a prescription for pills that were $100 a pop.

    I spent 2 years in Canada and each time I had to go to the Dr. I found the office full of folks who didn’t have anything better to do than go to the Dr. because they were on assistance. Even though I had to pay for my services because I wasn’t Canadian, I suffered through their system. The Dr. was purely paid by how many patients he saw. How much time and care do you think that those people see? It’s bad. I hated it.

    Next you have to talk about lawyers and malpractice. How much of your healthcare dollar goes to pay for that. (Oh wait the insurance makes money again. Is malpractice insurance double dipping? )

    One thing that we could do to help healthcare is to have the states demand that if an insurance company wants to do business in a state then the group has to be everyone in the state and no one could be denied coverage. This could only work if all states had the same restriction. Otherwise, everyone who is a bad risk would move to the one state that has coverage for everyone and all the healthy folk would leave for states with cheaper rates. This would cause everyone’s insurance costs to go up but insurance is supposed to be a way to share risks. Insurance companies have turned it into a way to avoid risk by denying coverage to everyone who has any risk.

    The real problem with Obamacare is that it will bankrupt the country in quick order. We simply can’t afford it. If you like it that much, I think I hear Canada calling.

  • Raúl Ramírez

    Clearly you were voting against Mitt rather than for Obama, who his overseen the worst recovery since FDR. However, you anti-Mitt stance, borrowed largely from the Salt Lake Tribune, seems odd considering what you wrote previously: http://politicalderby.com/2012/01/07/mitt-romney-the-clear-republican-choice/

    • Anonymous

      Actually I only borrowed item five from the Salt Lake Tribune’s endorsement. This list is ordered, so that was the least important item on this list. Item one is a whole sale endorsement of Obama’s key achievement. I voted for Obama as much as I voted against Romney/Republicans. Regarding my previous article. I didn’t actually endorse Romney for president. I merely said that Romney was the only competent Republican running. I still stand by that. Honestly as an Obama supporter I was hoping Republicans would choose would one of the much less qualified candidates. As an American I’m glad Republicans chose Romney. Writing that article was me choosing to be a good American over being a good Obama supporter.

  • Anonymous

    I think that it is well-documented that I was NOT a Romney supporter in the primaries.

    However, Edgar,you lose all credibility to lecture us about the election by believing and sharing the absurd notion that “92% of Americans believe hard work is key to getting ahead”.

    Shirley you don’t believe that. If so, please view Jason’s post above.

    I would like to try to persuade you to re-examine your reasoning:

    5. You are correct to some extent. But, I would rebut that any of the “Mitts” had a better policy than Obama.

    4. Both of their positions are flawed if they don’t include border security. Without border security, the other stuff is just window dressing.

    3. Politics as usual. Except that the Dems are even worse about it.

    2. I doubt anything that either of us say would change the other one’s mind. For every article you quote that decries “trickle-down economics”, I can cite an equal number that support it.

    Perhaps we should just examine the cold FACTS of what four years of Obama’s policies have wrought:

    1. “Health care in this country is an embarrassment.”
    If I may twist the immortal words of Bryce Harper… “that’s a clown answer, dude”.
    You honestly believe that health care in this country is an embarrassment?
    I rest my case.

    • Steve M.

      I think, if Edgar were being very specific (and if he and I see this similarly), what he meant in 1. by “Health care in this country is an embarrassment” is, “The health care system in place in this country, which allows millions to go without access to healthcare and has us spend more per capita on healthcare while providing treatment for fewer people, resulting in a lower life expectancy, higher death to curable diseases rate and higher infant mortality rate that 25-50 other countries while still having the largest GDP in the world is a disgrace.”
      That’s not to say that the care that US doctors, nurses and other professionals provide once you actually get in the room isn’t second to none.

  • dw

    Sounds more like you voted against Romney, than for Obama… So, let’s turn the question around. What would it take for you to vote for a Republican instead of a Democrat?

    • Anonymous

      My lovely Republican wife said the exact same thing when she read this. I think that’s a much bigger article, but I recently read a fairly conservative article that appealed to me a lot. I’m not going to say that going with these suggestions would guarantee my vote, but I would definitely see it as a step in the right direction. Here’s the link: http://www.familyinamerica.org/index.php?doc_id=45&cat_id=18