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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Romney Could Help Heal America, But Seems Uninterested

James Rainey asks at the L.A.Times “Did Romney deserve the negative media coverage he received?” I guess my answer would be ‘No. He deserved more negative coverage than that.’
Gone, unfortunately, are the days when the impulse to be charitable towards defeated political adversaries was generally well-received. Partisan hack that I am, I nonetheless wish we could have better reconciliation and and a semblance of bipartisan unity after elections. Constant bickering gets tiresome and, after a hard-fought battle, it’s a commendable human impulse to let bygones fade away and begin relationships anew, using what has been learned to work together more productively for the common good.
Romney couldn’t even manage to be gracious in defeat, whining about “gifts” to pro-Obama constituencies. It’s as if the concept of being magnanimous toward one’s adversary is anathema to the masters of the universe.
Romney is not alone among his GOP brethren in a lack of graciousness towards President Obama in particular. Despite protestations to the contrary, it’s very hard to discount race as a factor in their overarching resentment of the President, so bitter is the tone of the Republican critique of the Administration. But Romney could have set an example of civility and genuine patriotism even in defeat by reaching out to President Obama and offering to help promote reconciliation. But it appears to have been completely out of the question.
Would it be so unacceptable for Romney to make a statement urging his fellow Republicans to respect the President’s 4 million vote victory and offer some bipartisan cooperation? He certainly sounded the bipartisan trumpet loudly enough in the final weeks of his campaign. Doing so now could help heal the divisions in the electorate.
Democrats have not always been exemplars of goodwill when defeated. Our left flank can get pretty acrid when we get beat. But that usually passes and is replaced by a willingness to compromise and cooperate to achieve the best that we can salvage for the common good. That seems to not be on the radar screen of the leaders of today’s GOP, and unfortunately Romney has done nothing to promote healing. He should. That’s how grown-ups resolve bitter conflicts. President Obama should invite him to the white house and give him a chance to reconsider.
it might be a good idea to start a new tradition, in which both presidential candidates do a few joint appearances after every election, focused on the goal of healing the divisions caused by their campaigns. Policy differences will remain, but the loser should always acknowledge that his/her party has an obligation to compromise to some extent.
It may be that such a gesture on Romney’s part would be greeted with cynicism by his party. But in doing so, he would at least be sending a message of reconciliation to his rank and file supporters. That would do some good and serve him well.

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