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Lessons We Learned From Election 2012

Updated on November 24, 2012

Every national election teaches us something. 2010 did, and now 2012 will.

It is too soon to judge, but not too soon to examine.
It is too soon to judge, but not too soon to examine. | Source

Republicans all wanted a crack at Obama. Romney got the final chance. What did we learn?

It is true. Most leaders in the Republican Party felt that defeating President Obama in 2012 was the next closest thing to "a done deal."

The result was a hotly contested series of Republican Primaries in which the money started to flow as each contender took their best shot.

Unfortunately for them, they were shooting at each other. To defeat Romney from winning the nomination, they had to tear him down. His previous experience at Bain Capital, the 202 Winter Olympics, his governorship in Massachusetts, his character and personality, even his religion, were all well-tested by the time he finally entered the contest against incumbent President Obama.

For Obama himself, and the Democrats, the Republican primaries provided enough time, and enough insights, to strategize how they would attack Governor Romney, and overcome President Obama's own lackluster first term as president. They could, for example, see what anti-Romney messages had resonated even with some Republican faithful as the primary season came down to Romney's final victories over a persistent Rick Santorum.

For Romney himself, unifying his own party, after the series of knock down drag out internal fights, became an urgent task which at the same time had to position him for the fight against Obama. He chose Paul Ryan as his running mate, and the Tea Party Republicans and true conservatives within the Republican ranks seemed satisfied....though the Republican Convention succeeded in angering many of the Republicans who had supported Ron Paul (and still do.)

During the latter Republican primaries the Democrats were already testing their campaign strategy with ads centered on the themes they had observed as seeming to give Republican voters the most pause in their support of Romney: "rich guy", "preppy", "pirate venture capitalist", "system gamer", etc.

By the time the general campaigns started, Romney was on the defensive, faced with the task of defending who he really was. The attention was, at least temporarily, off Obama's own record, and on Romney's biography.

Psychologically Romney had a historical phobia to deal with. His father, George Romney, had also been a Republican contender for the presidency, and his father had committed one gaffe which had been severe enough to scuttle his chances of victory. He had said that he had been "brainwashed" about the situation at that time in Vietnam. It had been enough to deny him the chance to be president. Romney and his staff of advisers were determined that nothing like that should happen to him. As a result he seemed at times tentative in answering questions.

As Romney adjusted his political focus from familiar state politics to his national campaign, he modified several policy positions to satisfy the constituencies he would need in order to win the presidency. His own signal accomplishment as governor of Massachusetts had been fashioning nearly universal medical insurance for Massachusetts citizens. Obama had done the same under the tax provisions of the Constitution, while claiming all along that what becme known as "Obamacare" was "not a tax." [Had it been presented as a tax, the final legislation would never have become law. The ambitious program had occupied much of the energy of the two years in which the White House and Congress had been controlled by the Democrats,]

Critical to Election 2012, just as it was to the Republican primaries, the Supreme Court ruling in favor of Political Action Committees (which quickly became Super PACs) opened the flood gates for every kind of special interest money given to both campaigns. This avalanche of funds didn't stop until Election Day. It was the most expensive national election ever held.

By July 2012, a good four months before the actual voting, the handwriting was becoming legible on the wall, President Obama would have enough electoral votes from "winner-take all states" to stay in office for a second term.

Despite clearly winning the First 2012 Presidential Debate, and a good showing by Paul Ryan in his debate with seasoned Vice President Biden, the dwindling number of actual "Swing States" which Romney/Ryan would need to win, for even a narrow victory over Obama/Biden, meant that money, or no money, the election was closed before the voting booths were opened.

What lessons did we learn from Election 2012?

(1) The Supreme Court ruling that opened the way for Super PACs gave too much power to special interests at the expense of the average voter and average candidates.

(2) Term Limits on how long candidates can serve as Representatives and Senators were widely supported by voters, but not enough so to see them eventually passed into law.

(3) The choice of electors in states with "winner-takes-all" legislation, disenfranchises the minority party voters in such states.

(4) Gerrymandering continues to allow the dominant party in any state to protect their dominance.

(5) Campaigns can end without a clear definition of the way forward after the election.

(6) At a time of serious public concerns and issues, they can often be distracted by puffballs one or another of the two candidates are urged to throw at each other.

(7) The less-populated states can give the majority of their votes to one candidate, be a large plurality of the 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia, in a national election, and have little or no say as to the actual outcome of the election. And,

(8) There are usually enough eligible voters in America, whose votes (if they had been cast) could have made the losing candidates into winners, and the winning candidates into losers., while significantly changing the future of their country.


Copyright 2012 Demas W. Jasper All rights reserved.


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    • gramon1 profile image

      Guillermo Ramon 5 years ago from Miami

      When I said people are not hurting, I ment in comparison to Ken Burgess' statements. there is has been amd will always be suffering.

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 5 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      e-five: There is an inference in your comment that most Americans didn't learn the realities you cite as a result of Election 2012 because they have existed for well nigh to 200+ years. By contrast I contend that many (if not "most") Americans could learn these things from Election 2012 because most Americans do not know their history and their form of government as well as you do.

      The important historical and present day circumstance remains the failure of such a high percentage of eligible voters to actually vote. And, yes, we have seen that countless times before, too.

      Our American ideal remains that of having a government "...of the people, by the people, and for the people." It is hard to see how we achieve that when 42%+ of those who could participate don't.

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 5 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      gramon1: Surely when you wrote that " People are not hurting." you meant that "some" people are not hurting, or that "many" people are not hurting. The economy can, of course, get worse. All Americans are hoping that our federal government will make wise choices and do everything it can to make it get better.

    • e-five profile image

      John C Thomas 5 years ago from Chicago, Illinois, USA

      Most of the items enumerated as things we learned from this election are things that have always been true in American politics. The electoral college was created in the constitution in 1789, and the traditional practice of "winner take all" electoral votes has largely been honored ever since. Gerrymandering is named for Elbridge Gerry, who died 198 years ago. "Puffballs" go back at least to the election of 1800, where Jefferson defeated Adams amid charges that one party was too favorable to Great Britain, and one was too favorable to newer immigrants. And even in the most lopsided blowouts in American national elections-- 1936, 1972, and 1984 for instance-- there have still been enough eligible non-voters to swing the result the other way.

    • gramon1 profile image

      Guillermo Ramon 5 years ago from Miami

      Jeb Bush, the man that eliminated all the protections to the Everglades. You guys really must hate the environment. On another subject, do you guys watch the news? Retail sales continue growing. You don't like liberals or brown skin. That is all. That is why you don't want Obama. if you look at the statistics for retail sales for the last 10 years, you can clearly see that retail sales have steadily increased since Bush left office. In fact, by Oct 2012, relail sales were 67 BILLION above same period in 2009. So far this Christmass, retail sales have ballooned up. People are not hurting. Consummerism is at a maximum. It is true that we still have almost 8% unemployment, but Bush left us almost 11%. By the end of Bush's period, houses cost near 10 times the average household income. It was mostly foreign envestors nuying. That is what caused the bubble to burst. Now, houses are between 3 and 4 times the household income. It is still a little bit high. This is the reason interest rates can not go up. If interest rates went up again, the housing market would drop again.

      As for the defficit. A very big part of the defficit comes from unpaid real estate. This unpaid credit was caused during the Bush era, but does not reflect on paper until the debtors stop paying long enough for the banks to have to accept the loss.

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 5 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      This is a very interesting and useful analysis of the election. I agree with your opinions, and think that maybe the Republicans would have done better if they had found a better candidate than Romney. Is there any chance that Jeb Bush can win the nomination in 2016? Voted up and sharing.

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

      Pamela Kinnaird W 5 years ago from Maui and Arizona

      I read this article and the comments. I agree with all that you've said and appreciate your comment to gramon1. Well said.

      Voting up, interesting and sharing.

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Excellent essay and I very much appreciate your response about to Mr. gramon1. Your points are are well taken and well explained. Sharing. Theresa

    • gramon1 profile image

      Guillermo Ramon 5 years ago from Miami

      Ken, perhaps where you livew, people are firing in droves. Here in Florida, particularly in south Florida, we are haveng great economic growth. You go to a restaurant or night club, and you have to wait to be seated. There is life and action everywhere.

      On the other hand, the man you wanted to be our president is a master at sending jobs to China.

      Romney's 2010 and 2011 tax returns show investments in at least 10 Chinese companies, a total investment of at least $391,800. Amongst them, New Oriental Education and Technology, a company that is famous for stealing copyrighted U.S. academic tests.

      You people can say that Romney is not personally aware of these investments. However, this is an indicator of how he would be totally unaware of so many other things that would benefit him, while ruining our country, had he become president.

      Any economist would tell you that our current defficit came from Bush. In fact, even as Bush was president, economists were warning that his policies would end up generating future deficits. Don't you remember people mentioning the big bubble and how at some point we would have to pay for it? Well, we are paying for it.

      I may be the example you want people to look at. If they do, they will see that I am looking far deeper than you are.

      And by the way, the concerted efforts of republicans are determined to eliminate abortion. This is an excerpt of a letter from Senator Rubio I got today:

      "As you may know, I believe all of our rights are derived from the self-evident, fundamental right to life, which promotes equal rights and equal protection for the unborn. In the United States Senate, I will continue to work toward establishing a culture of life and also will work to uphold pro-life policies. I also pledge to support well-qualified judicial nominees who will interpret laws as written, instead of establishing new policy from the bench as the Supreme Court did in Roe v. Wade. "

    • Ken Burgess profile image

      Ken Burgess 5 years ago from Florida

      The election was a tragedy, we were shown what fear mongering, lies, and deceit can get us... an election that should have been most importantly about the dire economic future we would face if we stayed with Obama, became about all sorts of issues that neither as President was going to affect (IE - Abortion, which has been legal in every state for 30 years, and isn't going anywhere).

      We were also shown what effects having computers with no paper trail, and voters who do not have to provide ID to show who they are, will get us... a fraudulent election where some districts had 110% voter participation, and others had 100% of votes cast for Obama.

      Have you noticed that Businesses are laying people off in droves, cutting back employee hours to part time, and/or closing down their plants?

      Since the day after Obama was re-elected this has been going on, and it is only going to pick up pace after 1 Jan 2013...

      Maybe businesses are a bit smarter than the 'average' American voter (half of them anyway), and they know what the re-election of Obama meant for our Nation's economy, and its future?

      Millions will lose their jobs (or be cut back to part time) between now and 2014. That was what Obama being re-elected meant all along, I tried to let people know before the election (through Hubs and other efforts)... people actually thought it didn't matter, that the economy would get better either way, they actually believed all the lies in the last two months about unemployment and the economy improving, despite the numbers being right there in front of them disproving the claims...

      Perhaps that was what amazed me the most, is that so many Americans are entirely ignorant of what is going on, I heard one 50's (and looked well off) man in a interview on the streets actually say Obama has spent less and done more to cut the deficit, than any President in history... some of the other comments were equally jaw dropping, well off Americans are totally clueless about what is really occurring, and they vote accordingly.

      In fact, gramon above, is one perfect example of this.

    • gramon1 profile image

      Guillermo Ramon 5 years ago from Miami

      By the way, this is a very good and well balanced article. I am not so well balanced. The republicans are already talking about the conditions for a compromise. First, they talk about putting the entitlements on the table. You know their goal is to get rid of Social Security, Medicare, and any traces of poor people's access to medical help. Compromise means to give up on these. The republicans are in total opposition to cut taxes for the very rich. They are fine increasing taxes or reducing benefits for the middle class and the poor. What compromise do you suggest?

      The republicans are not all the people who call themselves republicans. The majority of those people don't know what is going on. They just want lower taxes an freedom of Christian religion. The Republicans brainwash those people with the fear of communism and their "Christian" agenda. The Republicans are the Tea Party and The SUPER-wealthy.

      So far as I remember, they have never compromised. They push, until people get fed up. People got fed up and voted, not just for Obama, but against their agenda.

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 5 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      gramon1: Somehow your comment reminds me of the line from the song which goes: ""....all, or nothing at all." It also reminds me of a criticism I read of oriental restaurants which read: "All oriental restaurants serve very fatty foods."

      My point? When we categorize any group of people, for example "all Democrats" or "all Republicans," we make a serious judgement call which is so false as to be ludicrous.

      Can there be compromise? Of course there can be, for we are all able to compromise. Can there be "Unity"? Of course there can be, for we all desire it.

      Will there be compromise? Yes, because it is an urgent necessity. Will there be "Unity"? Not if we have to characterize ourselves as "us" and "them" instead of as "Americans."

      President Obama is our president for another four years, and then he is history. " He has claimed his motto as "...not Red States and Blue States, but the United States." He holds the power to make it happen. He cannot make it happen without compromise. A steamroller approach which flattens half of Americans in the name of "Unity" will not carry out his theme.

      "Absolute power corrupts absolutely." Its only safeguard is proper sharing of power for the benefit of all. It is called "compromise" and "bipartisanship." something that winners and losers alike need to embrace.

    • gramon1 profile image

      Guillermo Ramon 5 years ago from Miami

      I don't think that unity is possible. Americans voted for women's right to choose, contraception, increasing taxes for the top earners, fair practices in regards to illegal aliens, ending tax benefits for outsourcing, and a global set of equal rights, as well as help for the middle class to restore its strength.

      These are all opposed heavily by the republicans. The republicans have never negotiated to the middle. Therefore, there will not be UNITY. Some areas have little or no middle ground. Freedom of choice can not be half freedom. Either you choose or someone chooses for you. The republican answer is that the government chooses. Freedom to get insurance that covers contraceptives is the same. Either the woman has the freedom, or the corporations have it. The republicans choose the freedom of the corporation over the woman.

      Regarding the environment, there are some gray areas. However, the republicans choose to accept that there is no global warming. The rest of us are not willing to take a chance on the environment. The republicans think the environment is something that you can buy. The rest of us think the environment is the irreplaceable world that sustains our lives.

      The republicans thought that it was justified to lie to the world to get us in a war that only brought benefits to Halliburton. The rest of us think that war is only the last resource against those who attack us.

      There is no possible compromise in many areas.

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 5 years ago

      I could NOT agree more- and i have the word UNITY written all over my fb page and my responses to comments! United we Stand - it's time to come together or die at this jucnture - we're on a dangerous precipice here...

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 5 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      ImKarn23: "'time limits, money limits, power limits!" of all the things to unite around, you have named three good ones which are unlikely to see forward progress. The system is out of whack. Good government, honest campaigns, and real issues continue to suffer in a system which itself needs reform. For the present though, there are bigger issues we must deal with immedicately and I have spelled those out in saying that Americans working together can solve any problems we have....but only together. Let's see whether or not we have elected anyone with common sense! If asking enough people the question of what time is it, we have a medican time that will be within 30 seconds of the right time, it is important that we tap all the brains, all the ideas, and all the aspirations, to come up with laws and programs which insure that America gets on the right track and stays there. The world is too dangerous to be divided among ourselves at such a time.

    • ImKarn23 profile image

      Karen Silverman 5 years ago

      Persy - we know we don't agree on some things - but - we both care deeply for the country!

      I find many of your points to be right on target and agree whole-heartedly.

      i'm just hoping that with the election behind us - that there is some move towards unity - as it seems as if the country were on the brink of civil war - instead of healing..


      i just HOPE we learned something from this ridiculous election..

      TWO YEARS of this crap? The cost of it? The waste...AND - how it takes away from actually moving the country forward..

      time limits, money limits, power limits!