One thing is clear in the election results from Tuesday: fiscal conservatism is the big loser. Class warfare against the rich, represented in the popular mind individually by Romney and by corporations in Bain Capital, worked. The idea that fiscal conservatism is a winning agenda is dead. Taxing the rich to pay for more benefits for the poor is the idea that won. The Blue Blood Republicans, the “moderates,” are fond of naming the religious right and social values voters as the “problem” for the Republican party, and if they could just get rid of these “Christians,” and vote purely on economic issues, they would win elections hands down.
Well, that isn’t true. Surely there were many votes cast against Romney by radical feminists and homosexual marriage advocates, but they are Democrats anyway from way back. But what really lost was the failure of the message of fiscal restraint and smaller government. The people voted for socialized medicine and higher taxes on the “rich.” They voted for benefits.
The other message is also clear: socially conservative voters were not convinced that Romney shared their values, and they had no enthusiasm for him. They did not turn out. The base did not go all in for Romney. The fact that Republican turn out for Romney was even less than for John McCain tells you something about the failure of the Blue Blood strategy. The moderates alienated their socially conservative base; and they thought they could win without them, going centrist and after the independents. They picked a safe, moderate, middle of the road candidate, whose wavering on every fiscal and social issue allowed him to be painted with whatever brush the Democrats wanted to use on him. What they did though is convince the social conservative voter of Romney’s insincerity.
Now many socially conservative voters voted against Obama, but many stayed home, not wanting just to settle for the lesser of two evils. Perhaps his Mormonism was a factor, but I think it was deeper. It was his flip-flopping on every social and fiscal issue just to get elected that caused the principled conservatives to drop out.
My prediction is that over the next four years the Republican Party will split. The Ron Paul coalition will have had it with both the failure and the compromise of the moderate, secular, Republicans. There are probably a lot more populist Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats that are also socially conservative than there are economic conservatives. I believe that if the Blue Bloods start blaming the social conservatives for this loss, the Ron Paul constituency will be done with the Republicans once and for all. After all, why keep voting for the same Party than attacks your values and then proceeds to lose elections? If the Republican party then decides to endorse homosexuality, abortion, and illegal immigration to “expand” the base, they will lose what is left of the social conservatives. Fiscal conservatism alone is not a winning platform, as well demonstrated by the results of this election.