For three weeks now, this depressed conservative has struggled to find what some of my editorial betters claim to have found in the rubble of November 6th: shards of hope pointing not to a decisive defeat, but to a determined Madisonian electorate wisely choosing to re-install divided government to prevent the kind of legislative mischief that could lead to permanent fiscal and social ruin.
I humored myself with this analysis, and with the fact that Mitt Romney handily bested John McCain in nearly every subset of old and young white men.
But nothing worked.
So, in desperation, I seized the nexus between the Hostess bankruptcy and the looming Mayan apocalypse as the perfect excuse, and stuffed my sorrows into the creamy center of a couple of final Sno Balls® while I escaped into Frank Capra’s classic Christmas film, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
You remember Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey, the American everyman whose everyday heroics made all the difference in the lives of the people around him, and without whose life — he was shown by an angel — his community would have sunk irreparably into decadence and despair.
And then, as I nibbled on that last shag carpet of coconut, it came to me. This movie contains all the wisdom Republicans need to win again. And again.
And it won’t be by re-calibrating our micro-messaging, tweaking our get-out-the-vote software or gerrymandering our way through the Ohio countryside.
It will be by “speaking the truth in love,” as Christians would say. And that begins with believing that what we’re speaking is the truth, as George Bailey would say. It’s also believing that the virtues of capitalism, individual freedom and personal responsibility — if unflinchingly extolled — will draw a majority of Americans to our point of view.
To be fair, Mitt Romney did some of that — a few times almost matching the rhetoric of George Bailey’s impassioned pleas to save his struggling Building and Loan from the hands of the evil slumlord Henry Potter.
The problem with Mr. Romney was his chronic vacillation, in the public’s mind — and seemingly in his own — between being George Bailey and being Henry Potter. And then, with those contemptuous “47%” remarks to his inner circle of donors, he lacquered with his own broad brush the diabolical portrait of him painted by the “Chicago School of Fine Arts” in the three months previous.
Finally, he compounded his woes with a laughable attempt to walk back those remarks, and then followed by floating the idea — which he quickly disavowed — of raising revenues by ending mortgage interest and charitable deductions, suggestions that could have alienated another 37% of the electorate!
As it turned out, the blowback from all of this was the only hurricane needed to sink Romney’s ship.