A little over four years ago, I sat on the edge of a bed in a Guadalajara hotel room and watched John McCain introduce Sarah Palin as his running mate. Less than a minute into her thank-you speech, I said aloud, to the TV, "Barack Obama just won the election."
In light of the videos that came to light last night, in which Mitt Romney speaks disdainfully of half the people he aspires to govern, I say, with even greater confidence, the same thing: "Barack Obama just won the election."
I say this with a degree of sadness. This country desperately needs a serious, intelligent debate about its future, about the various roles of the federal government, about taxation and debt, about foreign policy.
With many conservatives, I'd hoped that both Romney and Paul Ryan would elevate the quality of our national conversation.
Sadly, Ryan, for his part, at 42 years old, with an opportunity to explain to the nation how conservatives see the world, opted instead to structure his entire Convention speech around what he knew to be a gross distortion of Obama's (utterly correct) "you didn't build that."
Romney's incompetently run campaign has been equally disappointing. He has combined miscues with evasiveness and left many of the voters he hopes to persuade convinced of little but that he's an unreliable cipher.
From the beginning of this election cycle we've been treated to a parade of Republican fatuousness: Rick Perry, Michelle Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich. That's to be expected: every village has its idiots. In Mitt Romney I hoped for—frankly, I anticipated—a legitimate candidate. But Romney's most recent comments—which, at some level, take that parade to its apotheosis—have no basis in fact, grossly misrepresent both liberalism and the dynamic between individuals and their government, and, worst of all, show a frightening degree of contempt for nearly half his fellow citizens. They end my hope for a real debate.
Like McCain, Romney won't win the election because he doesn't deserve to. Democracy—speaking generally, generously—works.