Victor Davis Hanson on National Review a few days ago said that conservatives could be separated into,essentially,three camps by their explanations of Romney'stunning defeat Tuesday. The three camps can be distilled down to 1) Mitt Romney was a poor candidate and Barack Obama was uniquely popular; 2) The GOP has to radically alter its message on immigration, foreign policy, taxation, &c; 3) The Democrats have finally established a majority coalition composed of Blacks, Latinos, welfare recipients, the elderly, those who don't pay taxes, union workers,young, unmarried women--i.e. the "takers" in American society.
I, like VDH, find explanations 1) and 2) unsatisfying. We attended the Romney rally at State Fair Park two Mondays before the election. There was something almost palpable in the air at the tiny overflow amphitheatre that chilly morning. It was as though the country's disillusionment with the Obama presidency, an upswell of love and support for Romney and the Conservative Ideal, and the innate patriotism of the American populace combined to permeate the atmosphere (or so I believed) . So I do not believe Mitt Romney was a poor candidate, or that Barack Obama is particularly popular, as he recieved some 7 million votes fewer than he did in 2008. Knowing what I know from the Scott Walker recall election and the 2010 mid-term elections, both of which saw Republicans sweeping voters into their fold from across a blue state or a previously blue country, conservative ideas, when articulated properly and with something tangible to point to, e.g. the laudable Walker record or the disastrous monster of a bill known as "Obamacare". So I do not believe the Republican Party has to dramatically alter its message; and besides, I take a great deal of pride in knowing that we, the GOP, do things because they are what is best for the country, not to spur us above 51% in exurban Virginia.
Rather, I fear explanation 3) is the truest. Let me elaborate. Barack Obama,and the people around him, is a remarkably artful demagogue. This does not speak to his unique or singular popularity, as it is a tactic that will no doubt be retained by the Democrats for future election cycles. Early on he painted Romney as a plutocratic, bigoted sexist. Mitt Romney is a lovely man, but by the debates, Americans were seeing him through tinted glasses. Obama played on fear, warning of, as we saw in the "Children of the Future Ad", an America in which gays are oppressed, contraceptives are banned, and a machiavellian Cheneyite Romney takes bread from the mouth of poor children to give it to his rich friends.
I believe it must now be accepted by Republican strategists everywhere that we will never gain any significant traction among African-American voters. They have become a political tribe. Whether Obama garnered additional votes through racial pride, I don't know. But they well never vote for the Democrats by a margin less than 9 to 1, especially as more and more of them are trapped in increasingly decaying inner cities and promised more and more golden eggs by the Democrats. Unlike Charles Krauthammer, I don't believe we can tap into the Hispanic vote simply by capitulating on amnesty. They are, indeed, a striving, Catholic immigrant community, but so are the Irish. Now they are just more White middle-class people on welfare. I don't believe Hispanics will assimilate to that degree, but I do believe that if Marco Rubio can't attract them, no one can. Our black-and-brown convention clearly did no good. They vote Democrat for the same reason anyone else votes Democrat.
Finally, I believe our main problems in America are cultural. To quote Peter O'Toole as T.E. Lawrence, we have become "a silly people, a little people". More and more people are unmarried, divorced, having children out of wedlock, openly homosexual, &c. Politicians can wax eloquent about the resilience and lack of "quit" in the American people, but if that were true, then nearly 50 million people wouldn't be on food stamps when, at the same time, we have an "obesity epidemic" in the richest country in the history of the world. If that were true, we wouldn't be so eager to jump the gun to withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan. If that were true, we wouldn't have a 50 % divorce rate. If that were true, the employment-to-population ratio would not have dropped so precipitously. We are not the same country we were. In this election, Republicans knew what the country ought to be, but Democrats knew what it was, and they manipulated that, demographically, politically and culturally,to win. I fear that De Tocqueville may, in the end, be proved right when he said that "a democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government." I wonder if our civic virtue has indeed rotted away. I wonder if, we are truly, a decadent nation. And I wonder if, even if the Republicans can still win national elections, things are too far gone. It is quite possible that we have reached "the tipping point".