I can honestly say without any irony or sarcasm that I was both moved and impressed on Election Night by candidate Mitt Romney's gracious and graceful concession speech. He sounded neither bitter nor vindictive, did not try to assign any blame on anyone, and bowed off the political stage like a statesman, in stark contrast to the enigmatic persona he displayed during the campaign. Not unlike Bob Dole after his presidential bid was over, I thought to myself, "Now, I might have voted for that guy."
Although this past presidential campaign has been analyzed to death by a thousand and one pundits and I probably don't have anything new to add that hasn't already been said, and said better than I possibly could, I still want to add a few of my observations.
I believe Governor Romney's loss was entirely due to his own failure to articulate a coherent vision for America's future. Instead, he kept presenting himself as "Not Obama," and relied on the very strong feelings against our President in certain sectors to carry him to victory. As such, he allowed the campaign to be not about himself, but a referendum on President Obama, and even though anti-Obama sentiments are strongly felt by some, not everyone shares this view. But they confused the fervent passion of their views with a universality of their views, which is why even by late on Election Night, some pundits and Romney supporters were caught in a kind of cognitive dissonance between their assurance that they were going to win and the actual election results.
Throughout the entire long campaign, Governor Romney never defined himself but just stood in contrast to the other Republican candidates during the Primary season. His as it turned out successful strategy was to keep quiet, say the bare minimum required, and let each successive Tea Bagger, theocrat, wingnut, and doofus self destruct in the public eye ("Bagger, Theocrat, Wingnut & Doofus" sounds like the name of a law firm). The less he said, the less he stuck his neck out, the less potential there was for a gaffe and the less ammo the "gotcha" press had to nail him with. It worked, and although it wasn't pretty, it won him the nomination.
Unfortunately for him, in a one-on-one contest, the same strategy didn't work. He said he had a plan, but never gave us the details of that plan. He said his business experience would enable him to lead the country, but he never said how. He said he could balance the budget, but never told us what he'd cut (other than Big Bird, which was just a lesson to him to keep his mouth shut). In the last several weeks of the campaign, he quit giving interviews to the press altogether.
I can't give you a number, but my gut tells me a large portion of the 48% of the voters who cast a ballot for him were actually voting against Obama, and a much smaller portion of the 50% who voted for Obama were simply voting against Romney. And this is Romney's fault, as he allowed the election to be a referendum on the President.
Don't take this post as some sort of morning-after remorse for having voted for the President's re-election. Nothing could be further from the truth. But the man I saw give that concession speech was a far better candidate than the one that was seeking the office for the past seven years.