As I’ve made clear before I was a fan of neither major party Presidential candidate. Both stood for big government, continued spending, interventionist foreign policy, and little respect for civil liberties. So as Election Day approached, I was excited to cast my vote for Gary Johnson. As far as actual policies go, he was the only candidate running who offered anything different than the status quo.
That being said, I won’t deny that, while I did not vote for him, I was pulling for Romney to win, simply because I don’t think Obama has the slightest clue how to handle the economy. This fact alone was enough to make me at least flirt with the idea of voting for Mitt as I stood in line to cast my vote. While I ended up voting Johnson, on Election Night I was quietly hoping that somehow Romney could pull it out.
But once it became clear that he would not, my focus shifted to various other races and ballot initiatives. And for the most part, these turned out just like I had hoped. Gay marriage was legalized in Maryland and Maine, and marijuana initiatives did very well. Not everything turned out great, but it was exciting to see evidence that attitudes are changing on both of these topics.
Furthermore, hard-core social conservatism had a very bad day, which is good for anyone who hopes that segment of the GOP can be reduced in influence. Michele Bachmann almost lost her election, and both Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock were defeated soundly after expressing extreme and offensive views on rape and abortion. It looks as if Allen West was defeated as well. All of these are good news if you want the GOP to jettison some of its more extreme members.
The election also saw the election or re-election of promising small-government candidates like Justin Amash, Ted Cruz, and Jeff Flake. These folks will join a slowly growing number of limited government supporters in Congress. The number is still small, but it is growing and looks like it will keep doing so.
And beyond this specific election, Romney’s trouncing revealed massive holes in the GOP strategy and, I believe, opened a great opportunity to move the party to more sane policies. Conservatives are still licking their wounds but most now realize that the GOP is losing younger voters and minorities by large margins. The days are long past where there were enough older white voters to still win elections.
So, while I am disappointed that we will have to deal with four more years of Obama, I think the news is, overall, quite good. I felt for a while that Romney losing might be just what the GOP needed to get its act together, and I’m hoping that’s the case. It doesn’t need to lose its base but it must expand in order to survive. There are millions of voters who are open to a message of fiscal responsibility and social moderation. In years to come, I hope we look at the 2012 election as the start of something good.