journalism that swims
against the current.

Romney Would Be President If He'd Emulated Harper

Mitt failed to get what Canada's PM knows: keep your radical right-wingers in check.

Harvey Oberfeld 7 Nov

Harv Oberfeld covered politics at the provincial and federal level during his 38-year career as a reporter in print and television, winning several B.C. and national journalism awards. This first appeared on his blog "Keeping It Real."

At 10 million square kilometres in size, you would think it's pretty hard to not notice Canada: but we all are often amazed, and sometimes bristle, at how little our neighbours to the south know about our country, including their leaders.

Too bad for Mitt Romney and the Republicans, because Prime Minister Stephen Harper could have shown them how to achieve majority government and power with conservative fiscal and social policies: keep the radical right-wingers at bay!

Harper learned very well, in his three years as leader of a minority government, that the road to victory north of the border was by sidelining -- or silencing -- and not advocating on behalf of the anti-abortion, anti-women's rights, anti-gay, anti-immigrant, anti-medicare rednecks on the right.

After all, he would get their votes anyway (not likely they'd opt for the Libs or NDP!), but Harper knew moderation was the key to success.

Romney and the Republicans went the other way: embracing, adopting policies, advocating and even promising to overturn social and political policies that should have been left behind.

They learned nothing from Conservative Harper's success -- probably never even thought about it or examined it -- and lost.

Feeding the dinosaurs

The entire election campaign in the U.S. ultimately came down to the 11 or so battleground states populated very heavily by moderates, urban progressives, unionized and industrial workers, blacks, Latinos and other ethnic minorities and a large demographic of younger, educated voters -- the America of the 21st century.

But Romney instead catered largely to the old white dinosaurs, the Tea Partiers, the religious right, the anti-choice, those with anti-minority and anti-immigrant, anti-gay biases -- demonstrably a declining species in the modern U.S.

And he paid for it dearly. Years of strategizing, 18 months of intense campaigning, thousands of miles of travel, hundreds of speeches, and billions of dollars spent, all lost because moderates rejected the far right message and meanness.

The election results clearly show President Barack Obama was ripe for the picking. The results in the popular vote and even so many swing states that the Democrats carried showed defeating him was quite within reach.

If only the Republicans had put forward more moderate policies and an agenda acceptable to middle of the road America, and had not catered to and fallen for the America represented by Fox News.

The voters spoke in the swing states, where it counted most, at the ballot boxes, and in no uncertain way rejected the radical right-wing policies put forward for the past four years 24-hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year by the Fox News dinosaurs: Hannity, Dick Morris, Charles Krauthamer, Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump and the three stooges who host their morning show.

They may be popular with those old white right-wingers of the South and much of the Midwest, but those would have still voted Republican, even a Republican with more moderate policies. But the Romney campaign scared away those the GOP most needed, the moderates who were up for grabs.

Republicans out-Foxed

Speaking of Fox, I must say I enjoyed watching their election coverage best. Flipping back and forth between the networks, I found myself constantly going back to Fox.

Their reports were fast, accurate, and they had clear, attractive graphics. But those were not the main reason I watched.

For once, Fox had to keep it real -- real numbers, real facts, real truth -- in voting numbers and results.

They couldn't twist, mislead, lie, and propagandize like they have for the past four years. They could no longer pretend Obama was going down, that almost everywhere Republicans were way ahead in the polls, that the GOP would make all kinds of gains, that Obamacare would soon be overturned, etc., etc.

So I enjoyed watching them all squirm, pull all the egg from off their faces, and start saying what was really wrong (there was a FOX first!) with Romney, the Republicans and their campaign: that "legitimate rape" quote; the push to repeal Roe vs. Wade; anti-union legislation; failure to fully articulate economic solutions; moving to the right on immigration legislation; overplaying Obama as a Marxist/socialist; failure to take into account fewer Americans go to church regularly and that fewer are married; lack of outreach or policies towards Latinos; Romney's refusal to go on radio and TV talk shows; inability to convince the middle class the GOP cares about them; changing social attitudes moving closer to European views; and (my favorite) they had "a weak candidate field to choose from" and that's why they ended up with Romney.


If Fox was an honest news station, they would have pointed out all these weaknesses and problems before the polls closed, during the campaign.

Instead what they have broadcast has been the closest thing in North America to what it must have been like in Communist Russia watching Pravda, a news organization delivering the party line, in this case, the Republican line, regardless of truth.

Change the channel

I could not help but laugh imagining what it would be like for loyal Fox viewers, who believed only the word and the world according to Fox. What must it have been like for them to wake up and see the voters keeping it real and giving Obama not only another term, but victory in the popular vote as well.

The truth is the U.S. will continue to move away from the old white anti-anything-progressive Republican mythical America. If the GOP wants a chance at ever winning those key swing states, they have to start embracing the new reality.

They must push aside or at least put a cap on the radical right-wingers, the anti-women's policies, the anti-gays, the anti-immigrants, the Fox News agenda. They must reach out to Latinos and blacks who increasingly make up the new voter base.

Maybe they should ask Stephen Harper how it's done.  [Tyee]

Read more: Politics

  • Share:

Facts matter. Get The Tyee's in-depth journalism delivered to your inbox for free

Tyee Commenting Guidelines

Comments that violate guidelines risk being deleted, and violations may result in a temporary or permanent user ban. Maintain the spirit of good conversation to stay in the discussion.
*Please note The Tyee is not a forum for spreading misinformation about COVID-19, denying its existence or minimizing its risk to public health.


  • Be thoughtful about how your words may affect the communities you are addressing. Language matters
  • Challenge arguments, not commenters
  • Flag trolls and guideline violations
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity, learn from differences of opinion
  • Verify facts, debunk rumours, point out logical fallacies
  • Add context and background
  • Note typos and reporting blind spots
  • Stay on topic

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist, homophobic or transphobic language
  • Ridicule, misgender, bully, threaten, name call, troll or wish harm on others
  • Personally attack authors or contributors
  • Spread misinformation or perpetuate conspiracies
  • Libel, defame or publish falsehoods
  • Attempt to guess other commenters’ real-life identities
  • Post links without providing context


The Barometer

How Do You Read Your Books?

Take this week's poll