Like an elephant, the GOP should not forget the lessons of 2012


The post-election analysis of voting patterns has been interesting and revealing. A majority of Americans, 51 percent, liked President Obama’s message. They did not vote for Mitt Romney, whom they perceived to be a wealthy, white, middle-class businessman who was out of touch with Main Street America.

The characterization of Mr. Romney as a heartless corporate raider was used by some of his Republican opponents during the primary season. Democrats used that line to define him rather effectively.

Unfortunately, during a campaign, all kind of distortions are used to get a message across. But Mr. Romney did his opponent a favor by providing enough material himself.

I liked Mr. Romney when he was governor of Massachusetts. He was a moderate politician who reached across the aisle to forge compromises with Democrats for the good of the people of his state. However, presidential candidate Romney had no resemblance to his previous self.

His political somersaults on abortion, health care, economic safety nets, and taxes leaves one wondering about his real convictions on these issues. Except for his solid Mormon beliefs, he apparently is not grounded in definable political and social principles.

He reminds me of the main character in the 1976 movie Sybil, about a woman with multiple personalities. In defense of Sybil, though, she had no control over her personas.

Republican spin-maestros minimized Mr. Romney’s pre-election comments about 47 percent of Americans who he said were in President Obama’s corner because they depend on government handouts and paid no taxes. However, in a recent telephone conversation with his donors, he left no doubt that he still believes in that philosophy.

In that call, Mr. Romney lamented that President Obama used his first term to offer what he called gifts to some minority groups. He mentioned free health care in perpetuity to a segment of African Americans, amnesty to the children of Latino illegal immigrants, and partial loan forgiveness to students. He also mentioned young women who would have access to contraceptives under Obamacare.

In business transaction, the bottom line trumps fairness and even ethics. Providing a safety net — so-called gifts — to the most vulnerable of our citizens, or creating a humane pathway to citizenship, or defending the right of women to make their own reproductive choices, or making health care affordable is, so it seems, beyond the comprehension of some Republicans.

As it turns out, Mr. Romney’s assertions and accusations of President Obama in a sense bribing his way to re-election had no effect. Mr. Romney helped add 4 percent of the popular vote to the 47 percent who were on President Obama’s side.

Many Republicans, including Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a likely GOP presidential candidate in 2016, were quick to repudiate Mr. Romney’s remarks about gifts. Many of them said that the Republican Party should wise up.

In a recent column in the Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer, an acerbic neoconservative, asserted there is nothing wrong with the Republican Party. All it has to do is to court Latinos and it can continue on its current course, he said.

Mr. Krauthammer’s advice to Republicans: “No whimpering. No whining. No reinvention when none is needed. Do conservatism, but do it better.”

The Republican Party has developed a schizophrenic personality. Moderates and liberals (are there any liberals of the Nelson Rockefeller kind still around?) have been pushed to the sidelines. The Taliban wing of the Republican Party, otherwise known as the Tea Party, dominates the scene.

The Republican Party is out of touch and out of tune with present-day America. It has not come to terms with the fact that America is an increasingly ethnically mixed country.

In this melting pot, minorities have taken their place at the public table and are increasingly determining the outcome of elections as well as the direction of the country.

It is in the long-term interest of Republicans to realize that the likes of Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock, and Michele Bachmann are irrelevant.

The sooner the party of Abraham Lincoln sends to the sidelines such buffoons and their ilk, the better for the party and for the country. At times, one misses the pragmatism of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.

The defeat in the presidential election should compel the Republican Party to rediscover its lost soul and start to represent all Americans. It is going to take some time and much effort to push the lumbering elephant toward the center.

Dr. S. Amjad Hussain is a retired Toledo surgeon whose column appears every other week in The Blade.

Contact him at: aghaji@bex.net