Mitt Romney has a problem.
You see, he is the putative nominee of the Republican Party, but by a math known to insiders having little to do with popular voter will.
Even some notable conservatives, recently Sen Marco Rubio and Rep Paul Ryan, have announced that prolonging the inevitable will do the party great harm come November, indirectly inviting Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum to step aside.
I’m still not sure.
But the elephant in the room, literally, is the conservative base, who still isn’t buying any of this. Rick and Newt can’t tell them what to do any more than Rubio and Ryan can. This post-Obama conservative movement is not even Ronald Reagan’s Oldsmobile.
I find it interesting that no one seems to want to know what makes this bunch tick, how to measure them (as pollsters pretend to do), or even how to reach out to them.
I’ll tell you why it’s important to do this now.
Romney’s math problem is, even in states where moderate Republicans reign (e.g, New Hampshire, Illinois), he still can’t win 50% of the vote, while in conservative leaning states, even with the conservative vote being split, he loses big.
Romney’s strategy was always to split the conservative vote, which, on the battlefield-tactics side of the ledger, sounds like a good plan. And he’s done a pretty good job, thinking I believe, much like John M’Cain in 2008, that the conservative base will have to come around to vote for him anyway, since they believe Obama is the antichrist, and the Democrat Party a recent incarnation of the Capone mob.
Of course, it didn’t work out that way for M’Cain, as millions stayed home in ’08, yes I know, biting their collective nose off to spite their face in the process. But Mitt’s thinking is, “Hey, I ain’t John M’Cain, not by a damned sight, (with which even I agree) and Obama was an unknown quantity then. Now he’s not.”
But where Mitt’s math is flawed is the que sera sera factor, (what will be, will be). The fly in Mitt’s buttermilk is that 55% of the Republican voter base has stuck its nose in the wind and isn’t heaving to, no matter what Marco, Paul, George HW, or Jeb say.
Only Mitt can bring them over, as I will explain here.
Unlike 2008, those recalcitrant conservatives have had four years of I-told-you-so’s to back up their claim to the higher status within the Party. Single-handedly they have added at least four-five million new Republicans to party roles (although none of them are sending money off the RNC as a sign of fealty). Those newbies even have their own “Don’t Tread on Me” flag…and most of all, they, not the RNC, not Mitt Romney, not American Majority, not FreedomWorks, delivered the entire US House of Representatives, and almost the US Senate, to the Republican Party…free of charge.
Only it’s clear not Mitt, not the GOP, not the media, not the armies of Beltway consultants have a clue as to how they did it. A real fishes and loaves miracle it was, and one they mostly wish would go away, for it represents an alchemy, a new science, they’d just as soon not to have to learn to keep their sweeeeet positions of power.
And there’s the rub.
Grass roots conservatives knew who Obama was before the rest of America knew who he was, while the best and brightest of the political establishment were out chasing Beltway windmills. They think they deserve credit for not just voter strength, but insight and common sense.
And they’d be right in this claim, only the Party isn’t giving them any.
The conservatives thinks they are entitled to more, much more, for their efforts. A seat around the table, for one, and not over at the kiddie table in the corner next to the swinging door to the kitchen, where the Democrats keep their CBC.
But this is easier said than done, for conservatives don’t have a single representative to sit around the table to speak for them in the traditional sense. (Herman Cain is probably closer than anyone.) And for sure, the GOP has no history of dealing with a large, amorphous group who won’t accept a bribe or special sinecure, but rather demands only integrity in words and deeds.
“Tell us what you are going to do, and convince us you mean it. (No cheap chore for Mitt, I might add.) We aren’t blind, or stupid, so let us know you see what we see, and as we see it.”
(It’s obvious the RNC hasn’t anyone who’s read the Federalist Papers, for this is exactly what the Founders wanted the citizenry to be, a people who demanded a perfect marriage of word and deed from their representatives. No booshway.)
Conservatives want conservative and constitutional principles to be enunciated regularly, and with enthusiasm…and in such a way that the vaunted Independents will know who sits closer to the head of the table and not over in the corner. If you’re going to parse your message, parse it with them, Mitt…for while they are just as likely to vote against Obama as conservatives, they are only half as likely to stay home if you lie to them.
Mitt’s consultants have lied to him if they have told him differently.
Conservatives bring more to the table. quite frankly, and they, not Independents, hold the absolute key to victory simply by showing up…or to defeat, by not. Moreover, energized and mobilized conservatives can and will bring millions more to the polls, just as they did in 2010. In fact, two for every one Independent who may decide to stay home because Mitt called Obama a crook or a racist or a liar or a terror-symp, or an appeaser, or ……..
If Mitt bothered to know what makes conservatives tick, and bothered to poll them (I have people in mind) he’d know these things already. And he’d know just how pyrrhic winning a GOP nomination without them really is. Can you spell “J-o-h-n M’-C-a-i-n?
But alas, while a better man than M’Cain, Romney has surrounded himself with the same sort of media and political advisers M’Cain employed, all of whom wear their jock straps on backwards, witness Eric Fehrnstrom’s infamous etch-a-sketch quote which, I am sure most people read it exactly as it was intended:
First we tell these rubes anything we can to get them to vote for us, then, once Obama is the target, we go after the Independents with a softer, entirely different message. (My words)
He dug a hole for Mitt he may not be able to get out of, and as I just mentioned, Mitt probably doesn’t even know it.
Harken unto me, Mr Romney, if advisers like Fehrnstrom don’t speak with your heart and tongue, fire them now, for you are in deep kemchi over this one glaring fault (honesty and dependability) which trumps almost all policy answers you can give.
If Fehrnstrom does speak with your heart and tongue, you will likely lose, for as hard as we (I) will try to get conservatives to the polls this year, millions will again stay home, just as they did in ’06 and ’08..
Que sera, sera.
But the conservatives are in deep kemchi, too.
April begins the winner-take-all portion of the primary season, and while the math still doesn’t favor an easy sweep for Romney to 1144 votes by the time Tampa rolls around, unless he can bring a lot of conservative voters over. But while the math of secret deals with Ron Paul’s delegates, or super delegates which the GOP is almost guaranteed to give him, will give Mitt the nomination, it will likely consign him to the Bob Dole Cemetery of Forgotten Losers, who ran on the strength of their anti-base instead of their base.
So. from where the sun now stands, the options are clear.
First, Newt and Santorum can join forces, with Santorum riding on the front of the camel. He would get 50% in virtually every primary and possibly be ahead of Mitt by the Texas primary.
But, que sera sera, Newt doesn’t want to budge, for personal reasons, I think, pride and vanity among them. An intense dislike for Romney helps…such as Ross Perot had for the Bushes in 1992. And Santorum still thinks he can win, only not without Newt teaming up. Still, a split conservative vote could deny Romney his needed 1144, as they gallop into Tampa.
But it could also deny conservatives a strong position with the Party message. The loss of such a message could cement conservatives as outliers in an election in which they will still be relied upon, and put upon, to carry the day in November…or it won’t be carried.
Yes, it’s not fair, I know.
But Mitt can mitigate anything Santorum and Newt may do simply by firing any and all of his middle-of-the-road advisers, and hire a brand new team.
Not after Tampa, but now.
I’m not a media guy, but I know enough about that race to know they not only want to manage the message’s delivery, but its content. Quite frankly you can hire a 16-year old high school student to do the tech stuff these days, and you’ll do far better by paying no attention to their retro-math from the 2000-2004-2008 elections, for the Dems won in 2006 and 2008 relying on that same math.
Study the mysteries of 2010 instead.
This requires getting your hands dirty, for as I said, these millions of conservative, virulently anti-Left and anti-Obama voters march to the beat of no pied piper. They haven’t chosen their leader yet, and Mitt, hear me, you ain’t him. But they may let you get them from here to there the next several years...if you 1) say certain things, and 2) mean it, then 3) do it.
This is no easy path, for with men like Mitt, as George HW Bush found out, with a casual “read my lips” comment, it’s actually hard to make promises then be expected to keep them. Bush never saw it coming, but it was a combination of Ross Perot and conservatives who couldn’t abide a lie, even a political one, that gave us eight years of Crime Boss #1.
After Mitt fires those ne’er do well elitists working for him, and hires some people who will work for him rather than the other way around, I suggest he try to get an idea of what this new conservative base is all about. He needs a kitchen cabinet of advisers all the time to tell him how things he says, does, wears, poses, will play in Peoria….not Dupont Circle. (Again, I have some ideas, but I’m sure Cain, Palin, and Perry, just to name a few also do.)
In order to do this Mitt needs to choose (literally) between being president and a member in good standing of the current Republican Party. If he wants to go down with the country club in flames, be my guest, but only conservatives can get Mitt into the White House.
You see, conservative’s real beef is with the GOP, not Mitt
The last two years have proved that the GOP most wants to protect its status inside a federal system that has to be overturned if the nation is to survive. Most conservatives want to do it as forcible as the law will allow. Brooms and pitchforks, if they can get away with it.
I’m afraid there is no retreat from this outcome. But this does not mean that Mitt Romney has to share this fate. Instead of pitchforks, Romney can manage, over the next few years, a polite ushering out into retirement for the Old Guard, to spend the rest of their lives in retirement in an old folks home for old soldiers, much like the South did for its veterans 1865-1935.
Many don’t deserve it, I’ll admit, and we’ll for sure pink slip the young smart asses who abound, but quite frankly, when looking into the eye of Evil as we are now, there isn’t time to do more than keep the stalls clean for these old warriors who’ve lost their way.
Just get them out of the way. There’s real work to do.
Either way, for Mitt, winning the nomination should be trumped by winning the election, by allying with the only voting bloc that can carry a GOP candidate to victory this Fall.
I just said how to do it.
In the end, I don’t care who gets Dorothy Lamour at the end of the picture.
Que sera, sera.