The Republican primary has been over for months now but it’s hard to tell. The presumptive nominee (I’ll get to stop writing that phrase in a couple of weeks … hopefully), Mitt Romney, is still campaigning like he’s trying to convince his own party he’s Mr. Right, Mr. Right-Enough—or in his case Mr. Right…Now.
“What America is not is a collective where we all work in a kibbutz,” Romney said at a fundraiser in Chicago this week. “Instead it’s individuals pursuing their dreams and building successful enterprises which employ others and they become inspired as they see what has happened in the place they work and go off and start their own enterprises.”
America, not a collective: Not a place where people work together, according to Romney. Just a place where bosses are untethered by the shackles of pensions, environmental concerns or worker safety regulations so they can create magical towers of tax-free enterprise which “employs others.”
Willard M. Romney, the Everyman.
Romney is not trying to be popular; he’s running for president on the Republican ticket. He’s still trying to get Republicans to like him and Republicans now make up less than 35 percent of Americans. Reaching outside of their “big tent,” Romney spoke at an NAACP event, and after being booed by the crowd he explained it was because the attendees at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People want free stuff. He loves free stuff (like tax-free!) but finds it distasteful in people not clever enough to borrow money from their parents for college. Romney’s international tour was of a whopping three countries. Notably at least one didn’t boo him. In the immortal words of George W. Bush, “Don’t forget Poland!”
Romney doesn’t appear to be trying to win the support of the majority of Americans (or the world for that matter). He appears to be playing for the affections of a few key shareholders. Romney is a niche candidate of a tiny percent of Americans who think working for a living describes what your money does for you.
Let’s take stock of the groups Republicans are no longer attempting to appeal to: Wage earners. Women in their child-bearing years. People with pre-existing conditions. Unions. Public workers. The unemployed. Monogamous gay couples. The under-employed. Moderate Republicans. Muslims. Latinos. Oh and independent voters. We’re not going to see a “Romney Democrats” group pop up before November, save maybe a political wonk’s Halloween party.
Romney is nominee no one really likes. Fewer people will vote for Mitt. The only chance for a mediocre candidate to win the majority of votes is for fewer votes to be counted. Voter ID laws have become vogue in states like Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, South Carolina and Indiana. All of a sudden the Grand Old Party is concerned about voter fraud, which even the Republican National Lawyer Association in a stretch of their data claims only 311 cases in the last decade. Other estimates put the number in the tens. Way more Americans have won gold medals than have voted fraudulently. So Republicans must “fix” this non-problem (in places which just so happen to swing states/counties/districts) by making it as difficult as possible to cast a ballot. On ABC’s This Week, Washington Post columnist George Will called early voting “deplorable” because it interferes with campaigning. The horror! You know what interferes with voting? Having a j-o-b. Early voting is the easiest way for blue-collar workers to be able to have their vote counted. Less early voting, fewer people who earn a paycheck at the polls. And that’s deplorable if you’re a Republican in the 2012 election cycle.
Republicans are working very hard to get fewer votes. Instead of stacking the deck they’re just trying to disenfranchise all the cards who disagree with them (you know, the majority of the country). It’s a reasonable strategy as their presumptive nominee (gah!) brands himself as the small government/voting bloc candidate who likes being able to fire people.