The rest of the week after every Election Day is a sort of mix of “what’s next” and “what went wrong” for those in the political world. The victors celebrate and announce what they will begin working on. The losers sit down and evaluate what went wrong as they count their losses. So naturally, this week, all the conservative (and liberal) talk shows are trying to explain why Mitt Romney, and the party as a whole, suffered tremendous losses this election cycle.

In all seriousness, it should have been a Grand Old Shoe-in for the GOP given how dismal our economy is and has been since President Obama took office. Republicans may have forgotten that this mess started during the Bush administration, and he was the first to perform both stimulus and bailout, both of which are heavily criticized by those on the right. That isn’t suggesting bailouts and stimulus bills are a good idea, by the way. However, Democrats appear to have forgotten altogether that we are in just about as poor shape today as we were four years ago.

By the way if you are curious about what makes a bailout or a Keynesian stimulus such a bad (and ineffective) thing, Tom Woods has some excellent material on the subject. He explains things in ways that make a lot of things easy to understand.

The Search for (Republican) Meaning

Boy, oh boy, you would think this would not be so difficult. I’m not talking about all the ins and outs of microdemographics, but it should not be this hard to figure out why former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney lost this election.

Here’s a question for you. If the primary process is supposed to pick the best candidate of those running, why would someone who LOST his last primary to a man who ultimately LOST to President Obama seem like a good choice to run against him the second time? Has anyone even thought about that? Romney lost to the guy who lost to Obama, but Romney was supposed to defeat Obama?

This is not a “bash Romney” or “blame Romney” post, but there are some serious problems with what the Republicans put forth as their candidate this year and it needs to be addressed or the party will keep seeing mediocre election results.

Neither Romney nor Obama has yet presented a reasonable, much less tangible game plan for how our deficit and debt will be tackled. Only generalities have been suggested, but let’s take a look at what Mitt Romney actually said and put on his campaign website.

Romney repeated in his last debate that he planned to cut 5% “across the board.” Sounds great, oh, except that he clarified the 5% is non-security discretionary spending. I did the math a couple of months ago, and that amounts to a whopping $20 billion dollar spending cut. By the way, this was his position prior to choosing Paul Ryan as his running mate. And wasn’t everyone so excited about that because of Ryan’s budget? But in the last debate Romney wasn’t indicating he planned to go that route.

In fact, I will dedicate an entire post to this topic later, just to prove it’s important to do your research before you call someone a conservative.

The Breakdown

Each of the talk shows I have watched or listened to have had different opinions of why the GOP lost, but none of them (at least none of the conservatives) seem to be considering whether this was due to the quality of the GOP’s candidate. Almost like Karl Rove wouldn’t consider that Ohio might actually be going blue this election, even though the numbers kept coming in proving that.

Actually, Rove is the first person I want to address. He is now claiming that Romney would have won, had it not been for his lost momentum caused by Hurricane-turned-storm Sandy. To that, I say, if your candidate is so weak that a weather phenomenon causes them to lose, they didn’t really have that strong of a candidacy to begin with.

Glenn Beck still says Romney was the best candidate since Reagan. Ironically, that might actually be true when you think of names like Dole, McCain, and H. W. Bush losing to Bill Clinton. Romney did get closer to winning than John McCain. Beck, commenting that he had concerns about Romney from the beginning, said you just can’t know what anyone really stands for anymore. Well duh. Romney pretty much campaigned against his own record as governor of Massachusetts. The one thing he had going strongest for him was that he balanced the budget in his state, but his state had a balanced budget amendment, so there wasn’t really any other choice. Besides, lots of states have balanced budgets, including Oklahoma where I live.

Rush Limbaugh has managed to partially blame the loss on minority voters. He claims the Republican effort to reach Latinos, for example, was unsuccessful because their message was that you have to work. What is he saying, that all Latinos are lazy and voted Democrat because they don’t want to work? Surprisingly, Limbaugh did remind his audience why he thinks Republican strategists should stop focusing on electability and start focusing on what candidates actually stand for. He played back some audio from earlier this year where he talked about the primary contenders, except for one – Ron Paul. Didn’t even mention him.

Even my local afternoon talk host Lee Matthews, whom I listen to fairly regularly, blamed the results of Tuesday’s election on marijuana, my generation, and cell phones. Actually he blames it on the people in my generation who just “want stuff” and turned out in higher percentages to the polls Tuesday.

Now, I’m not saying that these guys are all wrong. They all are hitting factual points of the election. Latinos, women, youth, and other demographics all turned out higher numbers for Obama, but I have yet to see any significant evaluation of the reason for all this. It’s the candidate! Mitt Romney lost because of Mitt Romney. He didn’t lose because of Occupy Wall Street. He didn’t lose because of legalized marijuana. In Colorado, Obama won 50% of the vote, but the amendment legalizing recreational marijuana use won by almost a 10-point margin with 54-45% of the vote. That means a lot of people who voted FOR legalization also voted for Romney.

CORRECTION: Colorado’s presidential vote was split 51-46%. The 50% figure was from the national vote.

I am not saying that Mitt Romney would not have made a better president than the one we have. There are a lot of things I would like to have seen from a Romney administration, but the simple fact is he didn’t win it. And the only way the GOP can survive is to never put up a candidate like him for president ever again. They can try it again, who knows, the economy could continue a rocky path for a while, and maybe people will vote the other way. But more likely than not, another everything-to-everyone, for it before I was against it kind of candidate will send the Grand Old Party over to the sidelines. I’d go into details about what I personally think the Republican party needs to do, but that will only take me the next sixth months.

It’s time to get busy, and it’s time to work through our nation’s problems together. The election is over. Barack Obama is the President of the United States. And we have work to do.