Dear Professor Hollis,
I fear that the studies on authoritarians and right wingers, expertly done by Bob Altemeyer, has proven all too true: right wingers have a tendency towards having compartmentalized brains and can hold mutually exclusive information and facts in their psyche at the same time, with no homogeneity of thought. Having read your arguments as to why Mitt Romney lost this is the only conclusion I can come to. Maybe we're all slaves to brain function, but how a professor at an esteemed university who supposedly keeps her job due to intellectual prowess can write this post-mortem to the failed Romney campaign with any seriousness is baffling. Let me explain why you really lost so maybe, just maybe, you can get a clear picture and step outside your bubble for a moment. That is, after all, what academia is all about. I'll tackle your points one by one.
1. You are right when you say you are outnumbered. And you will continue to be if demographics keep changing as they are, but with respect to your argument that
Married women, men, independents, Catholics, evangelicals – they all went for Romney in percentages as high or higher than the groups which voted for McCain in 2008....you are fooling yourself with statistics by shaping them to fit what you want to see. First off, you don't cite which groups voted for McCain and stack them up against which groups voted for Romney. I'm unclear if you're saying that the McCain coalition was just smaller than the Romney coalition, or if you're saying that more Catholics went for Romney than they did for McCain in 2008, more married men went for Romney than McCain, etc.. If the latter is your argument, then that's erroneous, because Romney ran against Obama, not McCain. Who cares if Romney did better with Catholics than McCain? Why? Because the President won the Catholic vote 51 to 48. You lost the Catholic vote.
If your argument is the former, then basically what you've said is that the election didn't go your way twice in a row since neither the McCain coalition or the Romney coalition won. Well, duh.
Your other voting blocs you apparently did so well with don't bode well for you. The President lost to Romney with independents, 50 to 45, but Obama did well with that group just last election cycle, 52 to 44. A group that swings like that is not going to be the bedrock of any winning coalition. The other groups were traditional Republican constituencies, so all in all, you lost ground this election cycle.
You were steamrolled with minorities. Talk of "blah" people, intimating that all Black people are on food stamps when the number of people who use food stamps is predominantly White, and not at the very least explaining why your vision is of importance to all Americans is why you will continue to lose these constituencies.
As to your last point where you wrote:
There are fewer of us who believe in the value of free exchange and free enterprise. There are fewer of us who do not wish to demonize successful people in order to justify taking from them.I would first like to remind you that the United States has had a progressive income tax for decades now, and while EFFECTIVE tax rates may or may not be progressive at different points in history, due to tax credits or subsidization, the point still stands that the United States believes that the rich should pay a higher percentage than the poor. Russia doesn't, but we do. Why? Because Americans think it's FAIR, not because they HATE rich people. Progressive tax rates are by their very definition redistributive. Americans have not rejected progressive tax rates for a flat tax or an outright regressive tax rate and the polling shows it. So, have Americans throughout history demonized successful people and want to take from them? Look at the hero worship of Steve Jobs and you tell me.
Please spare me the specter of socialism. Canada, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Iceland do all just fine thank you very much.
2. Your candidate was pathetic. I am saying this objectively. He has no political acumen. He couldn't even learn it, which is sad, given how long he has been in politics. That's really telling: practice doesn't make perfect for Romney. Compare Romney's flop with Elizabeth Warren, a woman who has absolutely no experience running for politics. She learned the ropes as she went and overcame several of her own personal shortcomings to win her election. She out debated Brown and won in a Democratic state that threw aside Coakley. It helped that her opponent was equally bad as Romney, but the point still stands. If Romney were a better politician, he would have easily turned Obama's portrayal of him as a vulture capitalist around to his advantage, as Elizabeth Warren turned Scott Browns thoughtless attacks on her ancestry to her advantage, exposing him as just another culturally insensitive Republican. Romney didn't hit hard on Benghazi because it didn't bear fruit for McCain. Why should it bear fruit for Romney? Yes, insurgents attacked the embassy. That happens, as George Bush can tell you. Al-Qaeda is still our enemy and most likely will be for years to come, maybe even for the next fifty years.
3. First off, I think you are selling yourself a bit short on the culture argument. We have thousands of churches in this country, many of them quite large and well funded. Sure, many Americans are leaving said churches, but they're there. Right wing media has exploded: websites, books, movies, television networks, dating sites. I do understand that it must be frustrating that every movie theater isn't packed to the gills with people clamoring to see D'nesh D'Souza, but the reason for that is his product is inferior. People don't buy what you're selling because its inferior. Also, please make a case for how government (which has existed for quite awhile) has undermined everything under the sun.
4. All aboard the ad hominem express! You lost the election because Americans are not mature, well, mature according to your definition. I have no idea where you get this image of the petulant Obama. One minute he's childish, the next he's the nefarious usurper of all things American, then a bungler, to a socialist mastermind. You have to pick one. Really, if not just for consistencies' sake. Romney is the one that broad brushed 47% of the American electorate as shiftless moochers. He is the one that wanted Latinos to self deport. He is the one that wanted to veto the DREAM act. He wanted to repeal Obamacare, which was his brainchild. And then he went back on most of his issues when the general election started. If you want to talk about insulting, it is insulting to think that the American public is so stupid it won't remember what you said three months ago on live national television, in the age of YouTube no less!
As for your comment on "our enemies," I would like you to remember that when Bush was President, our enemies were brazen enough to attack the Twin Towers. "Our enemies" operate on a different calculus than you might think. Some of them are plain insane. Israel is one of the most militarized states with one of the best armies in the world, and Hamas still fires missiles at them, goading an invasion which has in the past cost them thousands of lives. Tactically speaking, Hamas is idiotic to go up against an adversary FAR more advanced and powerful than it. Yet it persists. You need to brush up on how "our enemies" think before you start thinking that the person in the Oval Office is the keystone to whether or not those that hate America will try and attack it.
5. Catholics voted for Obama, so the health care mandate wasn't an effective wedge issue for you. I suppose if you had looked at a poll that would have been clear to you.
I'm not going to write much here, because all I have to say is that if you "question the wisdom of the 19th amendment," then it's no wonder you lost the female vote 55 to 44.
6. I agree with you that Republicans need debate prep. Severely. But, at the same time, what's wrong with simply displaying your wares so that all customers can clearly see the quality and the price? Todd Akin and Murdoch both believed what they said, they said it proudly and clearly, and the voters thought they were insane for it. The Democrats on the other hand can say that they back Planned Parenthood and can crow about the positive effect it has for American women and their independence. When the Democrats state their values clearly, people swoon. When you state yours, they wretch.
The strength you have in your beliefs is admirable, but don't let it blind you. When you went to zealously de-fund Planned Parenthood, you basically said "They perform abortions, therefore all the non abortion related services they perform must go as well. It's a perfectly good sacrifice. Besides, women can go elsewhere for that stuff or afford it themselves." You didn't even offer an alternative. You refuse to see the flaw in your world view. The fact that conservatives consistently strawman Sandra Fluke by saying that she wants free birth control pills (to take everyday no less), instead of the fact that she was testifying about her friend who needed birth control pills for medical purposes but couldn't get them, it makes it seem as if your need to rid America of abortion is causing you to be a single minded zealot oblivious to reality. Voters noticed.
7. Winning elections and having the polls behind you gives you a mandate. Done. If you think you can win on the strength of your own ideas, why don't you stop gerrymandering so you can lose the popular vote in the House with some dignity instead of hiding behind artificially favorable districts?
8. You have Fox News, Breitbart.com and its archipelago of websites, Drudge Report, Townhall, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Dana Loesch, conservative personalities even on liberal MSNBC (S.E. Cupp) and Glenn Beck. You have an entire industry of right wing books, magazines, radio shows, and movies. It's so saturated with money that people like Joe "the plumber" can make a good $5k a week without doing much of anything.
If you want journalists who actually do their job, try Democracy Now, Alternet, Al-Jazeera, or Truth-Out. Your idea of journalism is James O'Keefe, edited, sensationalist video, warping reality to fit your own fantasies. Sorry, that's the opposite of journalism.
9. I thought corporations were job creators? Newt Gingrich said that corporations built America. Why are you vilifying success? Also, just for your information, labor unions were outspent by corporations and private pro GOP donors.
You had Sheldon Adelson. You had investment banks and hedge funds. You had the Koch brothers. You had major corporations whose profits are soaring. You had the gun lobby and the fossil fuel lobby. Yet you still couldn't win.
10. You add to the divisiveness every time you de-friend someone.
11. Define rock bottom? We have less than 8% unemployment while Greece and Spain are floundering with double digit unemployment (small government, low taxes, and austerity baby!). Japan has been in a recession for a decade. Other countries are going through violent upheavals (partly due to our past policies). Our housing market is ticking up. Stocks are rallying. Corporate profits are soaring. Domestic production of both clean and dirty energy is booming. Americans work long hours and we still have a vibrant, creative, and educated workforce. Could it be better? Sure! But rock bottom? Really? This is your positive vision?
By the way, the national debt was around 7-8 trillion due to two voluntary wars and a cratered housing market built on a bubble Alan Greenspan, the Fed, Wall Street crime, and deregulation caused. There were other factors concerning government's involvement in the housing market, but you have to give blame where blame is due. Republican policy was tried and it failed. For someone who preaches personal responsibility, you most certainly don't know how to assume it.
I'm sorry Professor, but you have become so inculcated with your own philosophy that it might be literally impossible to reach you. You are the face of divided America. I don't write this to breathe logic into your existence, but out of the hope that someone might see this and know that you are living in a separate reality.
7:11 PM PT: Maybe one of these days the HR department at Salon will read my application to write there....