The Republicans portrayed Barack Obama as an empty chair, then they pinned all their hopes on an empty suit. Stupid move. So Obama trounced Romney by a hundred electoral college votes. It was a rout but Republicans prefer to spin it as a close race, pointing out that Obama won the popular vote by only two percent. Do Republicans remind anybody that Bush lost the popular vote to Gore?
Republicans called Romney’s concession speech graceful, as if a corporate raider is capable of grace. He is not. Romney’s concession speech was in fact a call to the Republican base to continue pushing back Obama’s initiatives.
First, Romney praised his running mate Paul Ryan, a darling of the Tea Party. He said, “Besides my wife, Ann, Paul is the best choice I’ve ever made. And I trust that his intellect and his hard work and his commitment to principle will continue to contribute to the good of our nation.” That was a call to Ryan and the Tea Party to keep fighting for their crazy causes.
Then he added, “The nation, as you know, is at a critical point. At a time like this, we can’t risk partisan bickering and political posturing. Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the people’s work.” That is putting equal blame on Obama for the gridlock in Washington even though it was the Republicans who repeatedly slapped Obama’s hand every time he tried to reach out to them.
Finally, Romney used coded language to reiterate his commitment to Republican core beliefs. “This election is over, but our principles endure. I believe that the principles upon which this nation was founded are the only sure guide to a resurgent economy and to renewed greatness.” Romney was caught on video sharing his core beliefs with wealthy donors, “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what… (47 percent) who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.” He went on to say that he was not going to worry about “those people” because “I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
Having laid the groundwork, it was now the Republican spin machine’s turn. John Boehner, Speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, said the election results were a mandate to work together. Fox News followed suit, wing-nut after wing-nut began to chant that the key to the success of Obama’s second term is compromise.
But Romney swore he would end Obamacare on his first day in office. His vision and plan for America was the complete opposite of Obama’s. If Romney had won, he and his Republican cohorts would have been uncompromising. There’s no better indication of that than the obstinate refusal of Republicans over the past four years to compromise with Obama and the Democrats.
Now that their man has lost, Republicans are talking compromise. Hah! But compromise to Republicans means that Democrats must do as the Republicans wish, otherwise they are merely engaging in partisan bickering and political posturing.
Obama faces two choices going into his second term. He can keep trying to find a way to work with Republicans. Or he can tell the Republicans what a pundit said when Stephen Colbert asked him, “How do I stop Obama?” The pundit replied, “You can’t. There’s a black man in power who has nothing to lose. Wheee!” That would make the Republicans soil their underwear.
Buencamino is a fellow of Action for Economic Reforms (www.aer.ph).