On Thursday after the election I spent over an hour on the phone with my sister. We hadn’t talked politics since around the time of the Illinois primary. At the end of our conversation she asked me to write this blog article to explain why she voted for Obama this time (after voting for McCain last time) and why some people we know chose to just stay home. I will personally accept some of the blame for not thinking to contact my sister to try to sway her vote – but I admit I was shocked to find out she voted for Obama. (Btw her husband cancelled out her vote which wouldn’t have made a difference here in Illinois anyway.) I should also mention that her husband carried on running the family farm, expanded the family corporate farming business, and is on a major IL (and possibly national) farming committee. They run into politicians on a somewhat regular basis. My sister is just as vocal as I am and told me she will be sharing some of her views to politicians on both sides of the aisle.
Although she and I are a lot alike in some things – we have very different opinions on others. I admit I am a right wing conservative. She is a moderate Independent that has only voted in 3 primaries in the last 38 years because she hates “declaring” which ballot she wants. Her first time “declaring” was to vote for her high school government teacher that ran for office on the Democrat ticket. Through his teachings she is still an extremely strong supporter of “checks and balances” in which she believes different parts of government should be controlled by the different parties. She splits her ballot up between them. She “declared” in 2008 to vote for Huckabee and in this year’s primary to vote for Santorum.
Anyone that knows me knows that I didn’t decide to support Mitt until AFTER he picked Paul Ryan for his VP. His choice of Ryan helped me to trust that he would govern “as a conservative” like he said. But, not everyone is as familiar with Paul Ryan as I am by being a political junkie that also lives only about 20 miles away from him. My sister said Romney would have had her vote if he would have picked Huckabee or Santorum as his VP.
Mitt supporters were notorious for calling those of us that chose other candidates bigots. I know there are some bigots out there – but not many among those that I associate with. According to information from The Pew Forum, How the Faithful Voted: 2012 Preliminary Analysis; Romney received a higher percentage of the “Protestant/Other Christian” vote (including Catholics and Evangelicals) and really gained among the Jewish vote. Ironically, he lost 2 points among the Mormons compared to Bush in 2004. I’m not saying for sure that there weren’t some voters that stayed home because of bigotry. I just don’t see it as much bigotry as that moderate Republicans don’t give religious voters a good enough reason to bother voting – regardless of which Party they usually support.
Please don’t think of this article as Mitt bashing. I voted for Romney/Ryan and worked hard trying to persuade others to vote for them. But, if Obama doesn’t completely destroy our country and we do get another chance we need to answer the question – what did go wrong? I feel I can shed some light on this because I have so many friends and family that never warmed up to Romney for various reasons. These are the reasons my sister and I discussed yesterday:
• The first thing my sister said was a huge factor in her decision is that she still didn’t trust where Romney really stood on some of the issues because he seemed to change his views according to what he thought might help him get elected. She said he seemed to be trying to go to the middle after winning the nomination – but since he didn’t have a consistently conservative record to the right he didn’t have any wiggle room to keep the base when moving to the middle. (IMO this is another reason why moderate Republicans have never won a general election.)
• People want candidates to vote FOR – so tell us the best things about your candidate NOT the worst things about your competition. Several people we know have a huge issue with the negative campaigning during the primaries and some of them never got over it – whether they were done by the candidates themselves or by the Super PACs. Three quotes sum this up: 1. “He who slings mud generally loses ground.” 2. Reagan’s 11th commandment, “Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican.” 3. “If you don’t have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from.” Those of us that supported other candidates in the primaries realized how much it angered us that better funded candidates had the chance to define our candidate before they had the money to define themselves. Romney supporters didn’t really comprehend this roadblock until it happened to Mitt in the general election. Although I was fully on the R&R bandwagon – there was still that small voice saying, now the Romney team is facing what we did in the primaries – “What goes around comes around.”
• My sister worked as an accountant for decades. So, the issue of equal pay for men and women is a huge issue for her. After she told me she was upset by the “binders of women” in the debate (before it ever went viral) – I explained what Mitt really meant and how he actually worked toward that equality. (This point reemphasizes my previous point.)
• The way the GOP chooses the nominee needs to be changed. Solid blue states (and the bluest areas of red states) have way too much say in the GOP nomination. Electoral votes should be proportionally based by congressional districts. This will probably make the primary season take longer to decide on a candidate – but it will also help the majority of us to have a say on who our nominee is. Therefore helping us choose the strongest candidate for all of us to support. This point goes somewhat with my first point because the reddest states and the reddest areas of blue states tend to be more conservative.
• Like it or not Romney was just too wealthy. Even though some of us realize that was due to his being successful – it still made this election too easy for the Democrats to use class warfare in their campaign.
• Although my sister is not a SoCon and did not bring this point up, several of my SoCon friends have. The Chick-Fil-A appreciation day had several of us driving for hours to get to our closest Chick-Fil-A to stand in line for hours to buy “fast food.” Yet, Romney shied away from the SoCon issues and a good opportunity to speak up for the sanctity of marriage, the freedom of speech, and the freedom of religion.
• It has been recorded that Romney could receive fewer votes than McCain did and only 3 out of 10 eligible voters were able to re-elect Obama because of the lousy turnout. In my sister’s and my opinion part of why voters chose to stay home was due to the negative campaigning. Many Americans didn’t think Obama deserved to be re-elected – but instead of buying ads telling them why Romney/Ryan were the best for America – too much was spent telling them what they already knew was wrong with Obama.
H/T to whoever created this image that goes along with my last point.