All across this country in primaries like the one held this week in Illinois Republicans are voting for President Obama and some don’t even know it! I know. Hard to believe.
“But PPP, I thought the Republicans hated President Obama?”
Ah, dear Reader (I can say Reader cause I only have 1…Hi Mom!), that’s what they want you to think.
It’s like high school. Everyone is trying to be tough, or cool, or hip, or artistic, or athletic, or stylish. And if your identity is threatened, you argue and stress all the more how No, I really, really am cool. I hate anyone who isn’t uncool. I’ll prove how cool I can be. And then you tell a dirty joke or embarrass a younger or quieter student or do something stupid in front of a teacher, secretly feeling really bad about it but outwardly showing off how cool you are.
And that clumsy analogy brings me to Republicans in Illinois and many other reasonable states who’ve yet to hold primaries. Despite supposedly hating Barack Obama (outwardly), Republicans are not voting for Mitt Romney. Not only are they not voting for Mitt Romney but they are actively not voting to beat Obama either. They claim they are. They claim they want nothing more than to unseat Obama in November.
But Republicans, I’ve got news for you – actions speak louder than words.
Your actions tell me that deep down you’d rather not vote than vote for Romney. If that’s true and voter turnout continues to be incredibly low in large, swing states, then Obama can win easily. These people are not going to vote for Obama in November; they just won’t vote.
And a Republican not voting for Romney might as well be a vote for Obama.
Is it possible that though not excited about the Romney-Santorum-Gingrich circus, these voters will suddenly rally and come together for Romney in mid-to-late October? I suppose. Anything is possible. But that isn’t how politics and voting have work for the last 200 years.
I’m not surprised that a Republican anywhere would want to stay home this time around. I get it. Two smart candidates who are vocal advocates of “conservative values” but whose names appear in the dictionary next to unelectable. One reasonably smart candidate who is so bad at appearing natural as a politician that his own campaign thinks of him as the human Etch-A-Sketch. The only problem with that characterization was that it is so ridiculously accurate regarding Romney’s changes in tone, message and purpose over the past 10 years that you’d think the Gingrich campaign came up with it. Anytime you confirm the thing voters’ fear most about your ability as President, you’ve already lost. (See Dean in ’04 (out-of-control), Gore in ’00 (out-of-touch), and Palin in ’08 (out-of-answers)).
Romney is the “I’ll say whatever I have to say today” candidate and the Etch-A-Sketch remark confirmed in everyone’s mind that Romney thinks of himself the way everyone else thinks of him too.
The only problem is that leaves Republicans with nowhere to go. Santorum and Gingrich lose dramatically in a general election and probably manage to embarrass the GOP along the way. Romney loses with a bit more dignity but is so transparent in his false attempts to win loyalty and support that Republicans have decided to stay home. At least, they’ve stayed home in places like Illinois and, I predict, more of the same to come.
Republicans that loyally voted for George W. Bush twice and even found a way to support McCain/Palin will now stay home because it’s not like they’d actually vote for Obama. Come on. But they won’t vote for Romney either.
Instead, Republican voters have subconsciously decided to re-elect President Obama. You just won’t hear them admit it.