AN OPEN AND MOSTLY UNCYNICAL LETTER TO CANDIDATE MITT
by Todd Hartley
My condolences on your loss. I can’t say I’m sorry you didn’t win because I didn’t vote for you, but you seem like a nice person (most Mormons are, in my experience), and it must be hard to lose something on which you’ve worked so tirelessly for the last five-plus years. My hockey team lost a game in overtime a couple of weeks ago, and it was no fun at all, but that only took up about an hour of my life. I can only imagine how tough it must be to lose a presidential election after all that time, money and effort.
I think, however, that you can take a little bit of solace in the notion that it wasn’t really you whom voters rejected; it was your party and your core constituency, which, frankly, scare the bejeezus out of lots of Americans.
A year ago, after you announced your candidacy for the 2012 election but before the Republican primaries, I was considering voting for you. I looked at your track record, and it seemed pretty good. The state of which you were governor, Massachusetts, had an effective health care model, and way back in 2002, you said, “I’ve been very clear on that: I will preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose and am devoted and dedicated to honoring my word in that regard.”
But then something happened to you in the primaries, and you changed. You essentially disavowed the health care reforms you championed back in Boston, and you became staunchly anti-abortion. I realize you probably assumed you had to veer that far to the right to win your party’s primary, but to those of us who aren’t registered Republicans, it made you look rather disingenuous.
Had you stuck to your guns and stayed the man I think you truly are inside, it’s likely you could have won this election pretty easily. Sure, you might have had trouble securing the Republican nomination, but I think you could have done it. None of the people you were running against seemed remotely electable to me. Santorum? Bachmann? Perry? Cain? Seriously? (Disclaimer: Jon Huntsman was actually electable and would have been my choice for president, but that was obviously never going to happen.)
It’s too bad. You might have been a good president, and most of us, despite voting for him, aren’t that enamored of Obama. We just considered him the lesser of two evils. Basically, your party and some of the things it stands for these days drove millions of independent Americans to vote Democratic just to keep as many of the keys as possible out of Republican hands.
The loudest voices on the right – Rush Limbaugh, Karl Rove, Donald Trump, Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter, the Koch brothers – are people that huge swaths of America genuinely dislike. Many of us view them as hate mongers, and shutting them up (or at least trying to) was reason enough to vote for Democrats.
Your party’s leadership isn’t particularly well regarded either. No one who isn’t already in the Tea Party thinks highly of the senators and congresspeople who are, and most of us remember this Mitch McConnell comment: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” You can see how offensive that is to the more than half of American voters who backed Obama in 2008, can’t you? (Hint: It’s nearly as offensive as your “47 percent” comments.)
As for your constituents, I surfed some conservative websites the last couple of days to gauge their reactions, and vitriolic comment after vitriolic comment referred to the Obama-backing majority as stupid, clueless and all collecting food stamps and welfare. I can assure you I pay taxes and have never partaken of government entitlement programs, so it bothers me that right-wingers could make such crass generalizations about most of America.
In his acceptance speech, President Obama said he would reach out to you and ask for your help in getting both sides to work together. Please take him up on that offer. You can still have a positive effect on things if you can get your party to work with the Democrats, and America needs that right now. Even those of us who voted for Obama are worried about the economy, and we’d be lying if we said we aren’t.
In closing, I wish you and your family nothing but health, peace and prosperity in the future, just like I do for all Americans.
I’m With Stupid
Todd Hartley is a professor of political-sciency-type stuff at Bob’s College of Knowledge.