If You’re Going to Win the Kentucky Derby, You Need a Horse

Republicans could easily have taken the White House this year. But they didn’t.


Their candidate sucked. Their campaign sucked worse than their candidate.

First, let’s talk about the candidate. If you’re going to win the Kentucky Derby, you need a horse. The Republicans didn’t have a horse to ride in this election. Governor Romney was one rotten candidate. Nobody, except possibly his family and his dog, wanted Governor Romney to win. They wanted President Obama to lose. The people who voted for Governor Romney didn’t vote for him. They were voting against President Obama.

From beginning to end, this election has been Obama vs Obama. And it was close.

In the final analysis, more people wanted the real Obama than they wanted the robot-man not-Obama for their president. The last time we saw this was 2004 when the Democrats ran not-Bush Senator John Kerry for president. They got pretty much the same result.

Both President Bush before him and President Obama now were strategically-elected presidents who used wedge issues and highly targeted campaigns which basically said “I don’t care about you” to about half the people. Both men got their half to the polls and won a second term. Unless President Obama shifts course (something he has shown no sign of being capable of doing) both men will go down in history as presidents of some of the people most of the time and all of the people none of the time.

Governor Romney, if he had won, would have been the president of none of the people all of the time. He would have been the not-Obama president with a mush-minded platform whose only fealty was to multi-national corporations. I’m sure some of his big money backers are chewing on bitterness with their oatmeal this morning. They are not the kind of people who put money in political campaigns and politicians because of ideals. They view their campaign donations as investments. Governor Romney has been a bad investment.

In addition to their not-Obama candidate, the Republicans ran a not-Obama campaign. They never gave anybody, except the aforementioned multi-national corporatists, any reason to vote for their boy. Romney was the not-Obama candidate running on the not-Obama platform. Their only strategy was to keep on keeping on attacking the President in the same old ways over the same old issues just like they’d been doing for the past four years. The Romney campaign was an idea-free zone, and it showed.

My half-deaf 20-year-old cat could have come up with a better campaign strategy than going over and over the same old stuff that had been used against the president since 2008. I believe that President Obama’s positions on social issues were a net sum loss for him in terms of votes. But I know that he had already lost every single vote he was going to lose on those issues when he walked into this campaign. The Republicans had zero gain from attacking him on this over and over again. They already had all the votes they were going to get on those issues.

What they needed to do was offer reasons why somebody somewhere should actually vote for their candidate. It is compelling that roughly half the people of this country cast their votes against President Obama, even when they knew they were voting for a zero when they did it. That’s a big base.

But a base in any campaign is just that. It’s your base. If you want to win, you need to build something on top that base. Incumbents usually walk into an election with a big enough base to win. President Obama was the incumbent in this election and he began the campaign with that advantage. The Republicans never gave any reason, except things that people had already decided about, to switch.

The Rs ran a lousy, I’m-not-much-but-I’m-not-him campaign. The fact that it was close is a testament to how winnable it was. However, their narrow and absolute fealty to the big corporations has shut down so many options and ways of dealing with major issues concerning foreign policy and the economy that all they dared talk about were the same social issues that had gotten them to the half-way mark. They couldn’t build because they dared not. They had the money men breathing down their necks.

I’m already hearing the self-serving excuses from the R side of the political kitchen concerning this race. They are cooking up an analysis of things that will not require one single change in their absolute obeisance to the extreme nutso economic philosophy of Ayn Rand coupled with the economic policies of the greed-is-good corporatists who foot their bills. This determined self-deception precludes an honest appraisal of what went wrong.

The Democrats, after Kerry, jettisoned the dead weight. They picked their wedge issues and stopped trying to be the party of anything else. I expect the Republicans to go through a similar reappraisal. I think that there is going to be a considerable push within the party to de-couple from “social” issues and move toward a more “moderate” position on things like abortion, same-sex marriage, etc. This is the direction the money-men who own the party have been pushing for right along.

I imagine there will also be a big hate-Romney move within the party. In truth, Governor Romney only failed the party by winning the nomination. He was a no-magic man in a campaign that needed a star. But, given the field of candidates they had to choose from, what else were Republican voters supposed to do?

The field of appallingly bad candidates that Republican voters had to chose from in the primaries is a direct result of the lock-step thinking that is enforced within the party. Time was, Democrats allowed themselves the freedom to, as Wesley said, think and let think within their party. But those days are gone for them, too.

Both parties have narrowed their field of possible candidates with their internal censorship of ideas and constant self-purging, but the Republicans have paid the highest price for this so far. In the past two presidential elections, their major weakness showed in the primaries. They did not have a healthy field of intelligent, attractive candidates who inspire people. Instead, they offered us the slightly daffy, the bitter, the inane and the mean and nasty.

I know that Ron Paul inspired a lot of support, but in truth, there was no candidate in the Republican presidential primaries who had any business anywhere near the White House.

In spite of all this, the race was still close. The President eked out a win in the popular vote, and, as a result of his highly-targeted, wedge-issue race, won handily in the electoral college. It could easily have gone differently. All the Republicans needed was a candidate.

In some ways, politics is like a horse race. If you want to win any horse race, but especially a really big one like, say, the Kentucky Derby, you’ve got to have a horse to ride. The Republicans showed up for the race without a horse. The rest, as they say, is history.

  • Indy

    I did almost the exact opposite. I voted for Obama to avoid getting Romney in office. I was a life long member of the Democratic party but I no longer welcome in my own party because of my views on the HHS Mandate and abortion. There were key issues that kept me from voting for the Romney – one primary issue was his religion and inability to even create some semblance of care and concern for the poor in our society. I do not belong to either party anymore. I have put my faith in the Lord and do not put any faith into the Donkey or the Elephant. Bravo on the blog. It made me smile and nod in agreement because I could relate even if it was on the flip side.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Thanks Indy. Thanks also for that article you sent me. I want to write about it when the time is good to do so. I’m still a registered Democrat, and but my allegiance is to Christ. Same as you.

    • Ted Seeber

      And this morning- though I couldn’t bring myself to vote for Romney- I feel that my country has let me down and that if Obama couldn’t lose with the HHS Mandate, then there is nothing to stop him from just opening up the Gulags and taking all the Cathedrals for shrines to himself.

      Last night, I lost my last shred of patriotism. Last night, America left me.

      • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

        I agree, Ted. Sadly, I have no more love for America. The ideals and documents that America was originally founded on…oh YES! I have a ton of respect and love for those. I read a dire assessment somewhere that America will actually collapse and splinter into a bunch of regional entities. To my own surprise, I felt a surge of hope over this idea.

        • Ted Seeber

          I’ve had that hope ever since I was involved with the State of Jefferson movement back in the 1980s. Of course, back then there was no talk of America itself falling apart- just conservative areas far from liberal state capitols breaking away to form a new state in between Oregon and Washington.

          More recently I have been tempted by Cascadia Separatism- which basically splits everything north of Mexico, west of Montana all the way up to the North Pole off into a new nation, completely apart from the crazy people on the other side of the Rockies in both Canada and the United States.

          But they’ll never allow it to happen. They’ll nuke us first.

          • Rebecca Hamilton

            Ted, I don’t think separatism is the answer. We just have to take our blinders off, get prayed up and go to work.

            • Ted Seeber

              It also doesn’t help that 98% of the voters in Cascadia, voted for Intrinsic Evil of one form or another. Gay Marriage is now legal in the Northwest section of the Columbia Watershed, all the way up to the Northern Territories. Euthanasia is legal in Washington and Oregon. And Planned Parenthood Teen Outreach Program is now a *required* course at Benson High School in Portland (so much so that a math teacher is being fired over his objecting to losing class time to it).

  • Bryan

    I agree that Romney was a poor choice – but then again when the rich control your party, do you expect something else? I advised my democratic (note lower case) friends that the best way to take out the Republicans was to wage class-warfare. Go after the rich, expose the (health, abortion, extreme religious) backers, rally the screwed middle-class. Their party did just that and it has burst the boil of old angry white jingoistic men who have done so much to hold back the country while the rest of the world moved ahead. It is too bad that more people didn’t have a good reliable source of information to compare the US with other modern countries. They also have their worts but at least they have national health care, passionately defend women’s rights, and have legitimate left-of-center political organizations to push back against the rich. We are seeing the end of the Era of Greed ie the dominance (can you say 1%) control of American enterprise and politics. Thank you God for our Saviour.

    • Ted Seeber

      “Women’s rights” is just code for “exterminate the poor”. I don’t see the Democrats as the champions of anything other than death.

    • Bill

      I am no where near rich…am Pro-life (against all direct abortions, embryonic stem celll research and euthanasia), Pro-Marriage ( 1 man, 1 woman only), Pro- Religious Liberty (1st amendment) and Pro-conscinece protection..and agaisnt oppressive secularism, greed, corporate corruption..hedonism…

  • http://ackans.com Mr. V.

    I didn’t care for Romney myself. The only reason to vote for him that I could see was his promise to end the HHS Mandate. But like some others have said, that would have been too easy. We can’t stop the tide of evil in America by a single vote. If Romney had won, all too many would have smiled and chalked it up to a victory ‘for life’ and then gone on their merry way.

    In truth, the Church in America is in for some tough times. His judgment is coming down on us, and we need it. The Church in America has grown soft and fat and complacent, and it’s time for a wake-up call. As a culture, we have chosen death as a virtue. Through the heresies of modernism and moral relativism, we have embraced evil and called it good. One need only look at all the ‘Christians’ around the nation who champion the butchering of innocents as a good thing to see how far from God we have fallen.

    Well, Obama, and indeed many of the politicians in Washington, are opposed to the Church and only too willing to take steps to blind her and gag her and beat her into submission. The HHS Mandate is nothing more than a tricky way to further the destruction of Christianity in America. Those churches and Christian leaders who refuse to follow an unjust and evil law are going to find themselves out of their buildings, their places of worship seized by the IRS and converted to cash to pay for their tax liability. Perhaps some of those leaders will be put into prison as well.

    I am saddened, but at the same time, I feel joy. For the time’s coming when our ‘blinders’ will be ripped off and we will fully see what we have wrought. The Church will be tested, and our faith put to the fire.

    I hope that when our churches are seized and our congregations forced out because of our beliefs, that those Catholics who are confused as to what it means to be Catholic, will wake up and realize what has happened, and will get their lives right with God again.

    I hope and pray that Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden and all other Catholic politicians of their stripe, when they see our cathedrals and monasteries and convents and churches seized and torn down to pay off tax liabilities, will be hit hard in the stomach and realize the truth of what they strove for, and will turn back to God.

    I pray for all those Catholics around the nation who cast their votes yesterday for the furtherance of death in our nation will wake up and realize the evil of what they have done and allowed to happen.

    Above all, I look to the future with joy, for the coming trials will force us to make definite decisions, to either embrace God and follow His path, or fall away from the Church. The faith of those who follow Christ will be strengthened. The times ahead will be hard. America has taken another big step toward the persecution of Christians. We have taken a step towards a land where the Church of God may be forced underground in order to survive. But let us be joyful.

    Matthew 5:11-13:
    “Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

    Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.

    “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men. “

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Fantastic comment! Thank you for making it, and for you constant fidelity to Christ my friend.
      I especially like:
      Above all, I look to the future with joy, for the coming trials will force us to make definite decisions, to either embrace God and follow His path, or fall away from the Church. The faith of those who follow Christ will be strengthened. The times ahead will be hard. America has taken another big step toward the persecution of Christians. We have taken a step towards a land where the Church of God may be forced underground in order to survive. But let us be joyful.

      Matthew 5:11-13:
      “Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

      Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.

      “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men. “

      • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

        That was a great comment, Mr. V! I would add that America is much like the prodigal son, squandering all our inherited wealth on sinful trifles, running out of money, and now we are falling on hard times. Will we have to eat go as far as eating the food that the pigs reject in the slop before we return to God? I hope not.

        • Ted Seeber

          I think we’re already beyond that. We’ve progressed to virtual cannibalism, where we support the healthy by killing off the unhealthy and the unborn.

  • http://jscafenette.com Manny

    Obama’s campaign to “kill” Mitt Romney apparently worked. I personally think Romney was a good candidate, who the President demogogued to death. He characterized Romney early and it almost stuck to the end, but unfortunately the characterization held for enough people. Just look at people’s reactions right here on this blog to Mitt Romney the man. By all accounts Mitt Romney is a decent, charitable man, but ad hominem attacks work, especially when you get out spent. Romney got his message out the last month and almost pulled it off. If it wasn’t for the hurricane, he might actually have won. Obama didn’t run on his record or any future mandate. He ran a campaign of personal destruction. Shame on him and on all those that fell for it.

    • http://jscafenette.com Manny

      And one more thing Rebecca. No matter who the Republican candidate would have been, the Obama campaign would have had a similar ad hominem attack. They would have done the same “kill” campaign they did against Romney. Sure Romney could have picked Rubio and that might have helped on the margins with the hispanic vote. But it would not have changed the outcome. In fact Obama was ready to demonize Rubio. Go back to when he was the top contender and look at Rubio in the news. He was forced to defend some phony corruption charge. Obama ran such a poisonous campaign that it will be hard for Republicans to accept anything from him. No comprimise with him as far as I’m concerned.

      • Rebecca Hamilton

        That’s politics Manny. You can’t just say I wuz robbed because the other guy was badder than me. Part of winning a race like this is being able to handle that stuff. I’m not defending President Obama, so don’t jump on me for that. I’m saying Romney was a poor candidate with a lousy campaign. Sure the president demonized him. Plenty of people demonized the president, too. You win elections by overcoming those attacks. Truth is, Romney offered nothing positive.
        President Obama is the President of the United States. I will not bend on issues of faith. But I will certainly support him on issues where I agree with him and always support my country. I will also pray for him and for my country. Hating him is a waste of time, energy and brain cells.
        This election is over. We need to focus on standing for Jesus in what may be difficult times to come.

        • http://jscafenette.com Manny

          Oh I’m not saying we were robbed. All I’m saying is that no matter who the Republican candidate would have been, Obama’s money advantage and the fact he had no primary would have determined the outcome. The fact that Romney made it close is something. I’m disagreeing that he was a bad candidate or he ran a bad campaign. While there are things that might have helped, he ran a solid campaign. Tell me which Republican could have won? You say they could have won, but I don’t see who that person could have been. And while I’m not saying we weren’t robbed, I am saying Obama ran a poisonous campaign. He saw that as his only winning option and he did it. Where Obama agrees with me, I’ll support him, but I don’t see too many of those issues.

          • http://jscafenette.com Manny

            Oops, typo on “And while I’m not saying we weren’t robbed, I am saying…”

            We weren’t robbed. Should be “And while I’m saying we weren’t robbed, I am saying…”

  • Faith

    I always enjoy reading your insightful, honest posts. Great analysis! I was in the anybody but Obama camp, though I grew to actually like Romney, to the point where for the first time in my life I put a political bumper sticker on my car. And it’ll stay there too. I am a political independent. I grew up in a passionately pro-labor family but have been alienated from the Democratic party for years because of abortion. And while I like some things about the Republican party, there’s an awful to dislike too. Idealistically this defeat can be a wake up call for the Republicans to get their act together. But I’m not holding my breath! Anyway, thanks again for being a Public Catholic.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you Faith. We prayed. We’ve voted. Now we pray some more.

  • Bill S

    From the Boston Globe:

    “Supporters of a ballot question legalizing physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill in Massachusetts have conceded defeat, even though the vote is too close to call.”

    The Catholic Church was instrumental in defeating Question 2. The count is not completed yet but it is obvious that it won’t pass

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      I saw that. I’m holding off until it’s absolutely final, but thank God.

    • http://jscafenette.com Manny

      That might be the only bright spot. However, given it’s close it will come to fruition in the future, just as gay marriage is slowly coming to fruition nationwide.

  • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

    I disagree with you on Ron Paul. I think you and he are cut from much the same mold (that is meant as a compliment, lol). He says what he thinks and backs it up with his vote. He doesn’t care about what anyone thinks. He would have balanced the budget (which none of the other primary or general election candidates would have done), he had a solid and thoughtful pro-life platform, he would have gutted the military-industrial complex, he wouldn’t have given special favors or bailouts to big business, and he is extremely well-versed on, and loyal to the Constitution. I’m not sure what else one can reasonably expect or hope for from a candidate.

    But yes, Romney was definitely not a good candidate, and your explanation of the reasons was quite good (although some of the criticisms made by the Obama campaign were simply untrue.)

    I also would quibble and say that the Democrats are every bit as much in bed with the big corporations as the Republicans, but the perception is that they are not.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      I had some of the same feelings about Ron Paul; only honest man in the race. If I had been able to vote in the Republican primaries, he would have been my choice. He was the best of the lot by a mile. (Thanks for the comparison, btw. I’m flattered.) :-)

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      I’m answering this separately. I think you are right that the Ds are in bed with the corporations. They’ve done a lot of damage to our country because of it. The difference I think I see (I’m wrong sometimes) is a matter of degree. The Ds still have at least some fealty to labor and working people, although most D activists are country club social issue types who focus on abortion, gay marriage and the like. However, the Ds are still somewhat turned toward helping ordinary people. With Rs, they just tug their forelocks and do what they’re told by the corporatists. I’ve seen them do it.

  • Bill S


    I know this is of minute consolation, but your articles and responses changed my views on Death with Dignity and I know you will have the same impact if it comes up for a vote in the future.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you Bill. That means a lot.

  • http://nebraskaenergyobserver.wordpress.com neenergyobserver

    Best analysis I’ve seen, our parties are both something (I’m not sure what but it’s neither printable nor useful anymore) . Romney was everything you said. My only quibble is that my experience with the Democratic Party (admitably) limited is that it’s fealty is to organized labor. And thanks for your comments at my place this morning.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      You’re welcome. We’re all in this together my friend.

  • http://www.bede.org Stefanie

    Good comments from everyone. I like clear choices — God alone has them. Have found much consolation in reading 1 & 2 Maccabees — which in October were in my 1964 edition of the Divine Office. I am ready. Reading the lives of the saints who lived during less-idylic governments and societies gives one the courage to continue to do as the Holy Father has asked us to do during this Year of Faith: Prayer, Scripture & the Writings of the Church, Charity, the Mass. If one knows the history of our Church (and beyond that the history of the Jews especially during the Babylonia exile and post-Exile), there is no need to be afraid. There is only the pressing need to teach properly and authentically, praise God in all things and all circumstances, to be overwhelmingly generous towards those in need (spiritual and physical need), and to go to Confession often. If only we practiced our Corporal and Spiritual Acts of Mercy more often (me, included)!

  • http://menofoneaccord@wordpress.com James Neff

    Rebbecca, You have said what my mind was thinking and I could not find words to say thank-you. I know you have already joined with me in prayers for our nation. May the Hand of our Lord Jesus Christ be upon you as He guides you and His Hand make a way for you, Amen. James

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you Jeff. Blessings.

  • http://ackans.com Mr. V
  • gerard lynch

    The only real problem I had with your analysis was this: “Nobody, except possibly his family AND HIS DOG, wanted Governor Romney to win.” I think you can forget about his dog. Still has nightmares.

  • http://fpb.livejournal.com/ Fabio P.Barbieri

    I disagree with you on a couple of points, but they are important. First, to say “President Obama is the President of the USA and I owe him loyalty even if I oppose his policies” is like saying “Benito Mussolini is the Prime Minister of Italy and, etcetera.” Perhaps the parallel does not come easy because your country has not yet experienced a fully usurping government, a government that uses its position to destroy the laws of the land. But…! http://fpb.livejournal.com/643034.html People should begin to realize that they are well on their way to have to decide whether their loyalty is to the laws of the land or to the rulers of the land.

    Second, I thought there were better candidates than Romney. Even Gingrich, in spite of all the baggage he carries, of the flightiness of his mind – in typical academic fashion, he seems ready to entertain any idea so long as it’s interesting, and damn consistency – and of the rather odd figure he cuts as a Catholic convert, is at least a man of lively mind and an excellent debater. He would not have thrown away the third debate by rushing to agree with every wrong-headed Obama position, and if his positions might well have been just as wrong-headed, at least they would have been his own. And Rick Santorum had altogether too much principle for the Republicans; he actually spoke as if the Catholic faith had a factual content, can you imagine? Romney destroyed both, with the happy support of the Republican business caucus (as you said, it hardly counts as a party leadership), in the same way as the Democrats then destroyed him, by unprincipled lies, massive expenditure on attack ads, and by misrepresenting everything they said and did; and that is why, while disgusted and very concerned at the behaviour of the Obama crowd, I can’t shed a tear for Romney.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Fabio, to whom are you speaking? To clarify: I never said and would never say that ANY president is my president and I will back his policies if I do not agree with them. Actually, that sentiment is downright unamerican.

    • Beverly

      “People should begin to realize that they are well on their way to have to decide whether their loyalty is to the laws of the land or to the rulers of the land.”

      What exactly are you trying to say? Is your loyalty to the laws or to the rulers? For esample, the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act (Obamacare) is a law. Obama is a ruler. How do you decide between the two? Are you talking about Church laws or US laws?

      I don’t get the statement.

  • http://Pathos WIld Bill

    I could not bring myself to vote for Willard or Barrack for a bunch of reasons. One huge one for Willard is that he is pretty much just a human spread sheet who only can see numbers and has no clue what the numbers mean. As for Barrack, he is a great orater but not such a hot ruler. On so many issues he has started such as health care from a position that should have been a good comprimise. Then there is the contraceptive issue that has so many Caholics up in arms. This was a needed thing for lots of women but when it came to dealing with church related insitutions he fumbled the ball.
    What so much of this comes down to is that are two major political parties for the most part could care less about the average citizen. Unless you can bring in a huge pile of checks with lots of zeros few people in the national polictical scene will do much more than give you the time of day. The time might be coming sooner or later for a couple of Torchlight Parades, one in DC up Pensylvania Ave and another on Wall Street? Maybe this might help get our members of congress and the Prez more focused on the average citizen and not the biggest givers!
    I am so lucky that here in Oregon I had three great third party choices to vote for. These people all had different ideas but seemed to meet in the middle. Somehow we need to work on making our political system open to anyone regardless if they can raise a HUGE pile of Dollars so we can hear what they have to say and see if it makes any sense.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      “What so much of this comes down to is that are two major political parties for the most part could care less about the average citizen. Unless you can bring in a huge pile of checks with lots of zeros few people in the national polictical scene will do much more than give you the time of day.”

  • Beverly

    It just appears to me that the American people have spoken and that they selected the devil they know over the devil they don’t know. How did Obama win so much of the Catholic vote? That’s what I want to know.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Very astute Beverly. I’m going to talk about the Catholic vote in the future. Stay tuned.

  • Seth R.

    I have a different take.

    I’d say Romney was never allowed to become a good candidate – by his own party. Romney gives every indication of having wanted in both 2008 and 2012 to run a moderate and centrist platform. But he wasn’t allowed to do so in either campaign – first he got smacked upside the head with Huckabee in 08, and then had a repeat with Santorum in 12. As a result, he wasted most of his campaign trying to convince the wingnuts on the far-right that he was “hard core” enough, and never got a chance to run the campaign he wanted to run in the first place.

    He wasn’t allowed to become a viable candidate by the Republican base themselves. Whether he would have been a good candidate is anyone’s guess.