Initial Post Election Musings

I thought it would be closer.  I really did.  I know that 2 million votes difference out of 122 million is still a tight race, but I was actually confident the roles would be reversed.  That expectation was not just wishful thinking.  In several pre-election polls, Romney had taken a slight lead and had a palpable momentum.  Given that independents had been breaking heavily to Romney, it looked probable that he could capture enough swing states to win an electoral college victory in addition to the popular vote.

I was wrong.  Why?

For the same reason that Rasmussen was wrong.  Pollsters and pundits alike completely underestimated the cultural disconnect the Republican party had with minority groups and the enthusiasm gap between Obama and Romney supporters.  Minorities showed up with a passion that increased their absolute numbers, yet 10 to 16 million fewer white voters showed up despite an increase in their number.  The enthusiasm gap was among Republicans, not traditionally Democratic voters.

First, a quick note on the cultural disconnect.  Minority votes went to Obama more than 85% of the time.  That means almost 9 out of 10 minorities thought that voting for Obama would be in their best interest.  Anecdotal stories from my minority friends suggests that their respective communities really believed that Romney was going to raise taxes to pay for tax breaks for the rich, eliminate social programs that many in their community had come to rely on, deport their relatives, or flame anti-Chinese sentiment.  None of these were a platform or objective of Romney, but distortions of Romney statements provided the left the wind to stoke the flames of fear.

Though the actual results were within the margin of error of the Romney leaning polls, Rasmussen stated that they “underestimated the minority share of the electorate. In 2008, 26% of voters were non-white. We expected that to remain relatively constant. However, in 2012, 28% of voters were non-white. That was exactly the share projected by the Obama campaign. It is not clear at the moment whether minority turnout increased nationally, white turnout decreased, or if it was a combination of both. The increase in minority turnout has a significant impact on the final projections since Romney won nearly 60% of white votes while Obama won an even larger share of the minority vote.

Another factor may be related to the generation gap. It is interesting to note that the share of seniors who showed up to vote was down slightly from 2008 while the number of young voters was up slightly. Pre-election data suggested that voters over 65 were more enthusiastic about voting than they had been four years earlier so the decline bears further examination.”

Mitt Romney Endorsement

I proudly endorse Mitt Romney for President of the United States.  Why?

Mitt Romney has a proven record of turning around organizations– and that is what this country needs right now.  He has rescued private companies (Bain & Co.), non-profits (Salt Lake Olympics), and governments (Massachusetts).  There has never been a man run for president with that depth of experience working with troubled organizations and making them functional again.  There has never been a time that those skills are needed more in this country.

Romney understands the private sector.  While there are aspects of the Private Equity industry that bother me (particularly the federal tax rules and bankruptcy laws that encourage owners to use debt over equity for capitalization), the US government has a similar capital structure.  Mitt is a numbers guy who has spent his career encouraging business leaders to quickly turn around flailing operations and position them for aggressive growth.  Someone who encourages that “can do” entrepreneurial spirit is absolutely necessary to improve the business climate and create jobs.

Mitt Romney has experience working with Democrats to find solutions that work for everyone.  While many people in the extreme of the both parties view working across the aisle as a negative, I do not.  Compromise doesn’t have to mean abandoning your principles.  Compromise can mean a different approach is required or accepting a more modest advance than you’d like.  I prefer principled pragmatism to intransigent dogmatism.  Mitt’s history suggests that he understands this.

I think I may be perceived as naive if I didn’t acknowledge and address the common criticisms of Mr. Romney and his policy positions.


Critique of the Criticisms:

Mitt Romney is out-of-touch.  I’m not sure exactly what that means, but the question nobody is asking is, “Do you have to experience everything first-hand to have compassion or understanding?”  Surely we don’t want a drug addicted homeless person as a leader of the free world just because he REALLY “gets it”.  While living in Boston in the early 90’s, Mitt was my ecclesiastical leader.  He was known as a honest, caring, compassionate, and fair man who spent 20-30 uncompensated hours a week counselling people suffering with financial, emotional, and spiritual issues.  I doubt there are many people people worth 9 figures with that experience.  In fact, their are few people of any social class with that kind of intimate knowledge of the problems us “real people” have.  The Obama campaign has very cleverly and effectively channeled the anger and frustration at the moribund job and wage growth, which I believe should be targeted at his failed policies, and re-directed it towards Romney’s success. It is brilliant.

Romney is a war hawk in the mold of Bush Administration Neo-Cons.  I will admit I had concerns with Romney in this area.  While I recognize we live in a world with rogue nations and stateless terrorist organizations, I don’t believe we should “project” our power.  However, I appreciate a strong military as a deterrent against those that would harm us.  On closer examination of Mitt Romney’s statements, and in light of recent events in Egypt, Syria, Iran and Libya, I think that claiming the “peace dividend” is premature.  The “unnecessary $2 trillion” of new defense spending is more political posturing.  Romney’s analysis of our military strength declining over the past 20 years is compelling.  He does not apologize for American strength.

His tax policies favor the rich.  The simple answer has to be “yes, they do”.  Since his policies will only affect federal taxes and they are paid primarily by those with higher incomes, any breaks would accumulate primarily to them.  As someone who believes in fairness, the better question is: “What are the net effect of his plans?”.  First, it is worth noting that Mitt Romney has no desire to tax the middle class or the poor.  I think anyone who follows American politics knows the ONLY rule of the Republican party is “No new taxes”.  So the question remains, do his policies amount to a tax break for the rich?  I suspect eliminating tax loopholes will accomplish more than ratcheting up the top rates. In fact, I believe that raising rates will NOT extract significantly more taxes from the wealthy with out deduction reform.  Mitt is a perfect example.  He is officially at the highest 35% rate, yet he pays less than 15% effective rate.  Why?  Deductions and “loopholes”.  If we want to have anything remotely resembling a progressive tax code, we have to eliminate these tax breaks.  I do hope that he reverses his position on capital gains taxes.  I disagree that they should be taxed any differently than other income.

Mitt is anti-women.  Mitt has always promoted women in his private sector and public sector work.  The women who have worked for him can’t say enough positive about him.  Here is an example: http://youtu.be/OPfRbp2zycc.  After turning Bain around, the company made Orit Gadiesh the first female CEO of a major consulting firm.  His chief of staff has long been Beth Meyers.  He mentored Meg Whitman, the CEO of Hewlett Packard, former candidate for Governor of California, and CEO of eBay.  On what grounds is he being accused of being anti-woman?  He thinks it is wrong to mandate that insurance companies to pay for birth control (especially if they have conscientious objections like the Catholic church) and he doesn’t want the federal government to pay for abortions.  Contrary to what the left would have you believe, he has no desire to prevent women from accessing birth control: http://mrctv.org/videos/romney-every-woman-should-have-access-contraceptives.  He also believes that women should have access to abortions in the cases of rape, incest, and the mother’s health.

Romney was a “Vulture Capitalist” and Shipped Jobs Overseas.  Interestingly, after pushing this accusation, Obama’s campaign has dropped the line after members of his own party acknowledged the story was falling apart.  (Democrat Venture Capitalist Defends Romney) This article sums it up and provides links to the fact checkers: http://www.factcheck.org/2012/06/obamas-outsourcer-overreach/  I just heard today Biden resurrecting this one.  Why?  It’s just not true.

I’ve got to publish this before the election is over.  I could go on about how Mitt has been unfairly characterized by the Obama campaign.  In fairness, Mitt has pointed out Obama’s failings as well.  People can point out that jobs have been created since Obama took office…and I could point out statistics that show real unemployment (if measured by % of population) is currently between 15-25% and real wages are down.  But in the end- it all comes down to philosophy- more government and authoritarianism or less government and more freedom.  I’ll pick Mitt Romney and the latter.