Mark me down as one if those whiplashed Florida Republicans that can hardly believe we lost the election last month, let alone the magnitude if our wipeout here in already deep blue South Florida. “Didn’t voters understand what was at stake? Don’t they realize how obvious the choice was?” I’ve banged my head on the desk asking the universe all of those questions and more, but every day I wake up and… yep, Obama’s still the president.
You’ve heard every excuse under the sun for our defeats and surely some of them have merit. The power of incumbency, Obama’s massive war chest, demographic shifts and precision GOTV efforts all helped the president for sure. But so did our candidate’s own blunders and sidesteps, not to mention Romney’s nearly unfathomable decision to go soft on the president rather than bludgeon him with his own record during the debates. Mitt gained a reputation of an “excellent closer” mostly because when he was against the ropes, he swung his way back into contention. Where was Mr. Nice Guy when Mitt was carpetbombing Gingrich and Santorum with wall-to-wall attack ads?
Bottom line – I’m mortified that Republicans have lulled ourselves into thinking that any excuses are right on their face, if they even matter at all.
Our potentially fatal misunderstanding of the current voter mindset was on full display at the Republican Party of Florida quarterly meeting in Orlando with awaited news that former Governor Charlie Crist had officially become a Democrat and would likely seek that Party’s nomination for his old job in 2014.
I was appalled to read that Governor Scott used the opportunity to announce that he didn’t understand why anyone would eschew our party and candidates for liberals. Chairman Lenny Curry brushed off Crist’s cross-party candidacy as a nonstarter on the basis that Crist was once a self described Reagan conservative Republican with a downright harsh record on guns, abortion and crime — three big strikes in Dem circles, to be sure.
But political chameleon Charlie Crist has never been shy about rewriting his political history on the fly and Lord knows he’ll run over whomever it takes to get what he wants. Ask Jim Greer and George LeMieux about Crist’s scruples. Perhaps ambulance chasing sugar daddy John Morgan and Florida Dems will be the next with Crist’s tire tracks across them? If we assure ourselves that Crist couldn’t possibly win because we know the truth about him, then spoiler alert: he wins.
We Republicans cannot base our political future on the bipolar zig zags of Charlie Crist. But God help us if we let Floridians get taken for a wild ride by him only because we were blind to our own shortcomings.
We had better start looking ourselves in the mirror and finding our real problems instead of straw men. We cannot go into 2014 with the attitude that of course people will vote Republican simply because they would be stupid to do otherwise. That strategy didn’t work for us in 2008 or 2012. What was it that Einstein said about defining “insanity”, again?
A wise pol once told me that a candidate or Party is in real trouble when they run out of places to lay blame and eventually point to their constituents. For us, we are dangerously close by assuming our voters are too smart to disagree with us.
But then again, maybe it’s just me. I’m voting Republican anyway.