Before dawn broke in my neighborhood, the Romney/Ryan yard signs disappeared from lawns. The zzzppptt! of Romney/Ryan bumper stickers being torn off like bandaids, in grim, lip-pursed yanks, might be what woke me up this morning.
Almost as if they had never existed, the traces of Romney’s support were gone. As soon as it became evident that Pres. Obama had easily held off his shape-shifting opponent, the Romney brand was in the clearance bin.
For the vast majority of Romney’s base, his support was more about what he wasn’t than what he was. He wasn’t, of course, Barack Obama. Beyond that, he was Generic Republican Challenger, and he stirred as much passion in his followers, if they could be called that, as a can of Ensure. Yes, he had all the ingredients they needed but they’d really rather have had them in a slice of pizza.
Even the candidate himself seemed devoid of passion as he delivered the least wistful concession speech at the fastest clip I can recall watching. After waiting even longer than Karl Rove to make sure Ohio was really going for Obama, once Romney took the stage, he seemed like he couldn’t get off back off it fast enough.
But the Obama/Biden signs and car magnets are still in place, and I am doubting that simple gloating is behind the rush that no Democrats are in to put the election behind them. We love our guy, and we want to see him succeed. We want to see our country get back on its feet, and we cheer good economic news. We don’t pick apart each report that ratchets up the numbers a little more one month and a little more the next, searching for evidence that things are still Very Bad.
There are many lessons to be taken from the 2012 election, and yes, that money alone isn’t enough is certainly one of them. The Pres. Obamas and Sen. Sherrod Browns of the world can be outspent by GOP money that blocks out the sun and still win. But money does matter, and there are plenty of examples of good candidates who lost their races for that very reason.
So maybe the main lesson is one that Democrats learned in 2004, when hating George W. Bush wasn’t enough to put Generic Democratic Challenger, aka, John Kerry, in the White House. Despising one candidate can help, but you’ve also got to love the alternative.