“We hope we lose this contest so we can have a better chance to win when it counts.”
Does that comment sound like something from Olympic badminton players during the recent London games? They were trying to lose some preliminary matches because losing would get them a better draw in the next round. What does this badminton scandal have to do with politics?
Some people in both parties want their presidential candidates to lose the 2012 election because they think that would improve their chances for a decisive and more significant win in 2016. First, there is a little ripple from disaffected conservative Republicans who do not think Mitt Romney is strong on their issues. He is not “un-moderate” enough for them. They do not believe he will stand up and fight for their agenda should he become president. For them, Romney is really just a part of the establishment and only pretending to be a true conservative. Not only would his election not make a positive difference, they worry it might set their movement back for years. They might be thinking, if Romney loses, then after four more years of Obama, the country will be ready for the kind of real change they believe it needs. In 2016, the time would be ripe for a presidential candidate who is a real conservative, somebody they can trust to stand and fight their battles and put the country in order.
Maybe you have heard this kind of thinking whispered by hard-line Tea Party types and the Ron Paul or Sarah Palin supporters, and even more quietly from some people who supported Rick Santorum or Michele Bachmann in the primaries. Some Democrats are quietly smiling about this thinking. A few might even be trying to figure out how to encourage it. Their efforts would be psychological warfare to diminish the enthusiasm of the Republican troops, the same tactics Tokyo Rose used with her broadcasts during World War II, saying anything that would undermine the morale of the American soldiers. Democrats have their own problems with this better-not-to-win-now thinking. Some Democrats, looking at another four years of an Obama presidency, ask whether they want to suffer through four more years like the last two, when Republicans controlling the House of Representatives blocked every Obama initiative.
These discouraged Democrats think that the deadlock would continue if Obama were reelected. Thus, any progressive efforts during Obama’s second term would be stymied, and it would be impossible for Obama to develop a compromise approach to the country’s budget and debt crisis. Thus, they reason, a Democratic win in November would be a wasted victory. What Democrats need to do, they might be thinking, is to let the crazies who control the Republican Party win the presidency in 2012, take over the government, and put their programs in place. After four years of Republican and Tea Party government, the American public would be ready to bring back Obama on a red carpet in 2016, give him a Congress stripped of the Tea Party, and give him a powerful mandate for progressive action. That kind of election victory, they reason, would be worth fighting for, and worth waiting for. Maybe this line of thinking does not make sense to you. But it has an appeal to some frustrated Democrats. Their better-not-to-win-now reasoning and their ongoing frustration could lead them to stay at home this November. Clever Republican psychological warriors might figure out ways to exploit these frustrations.
If so, there could be Tokyo Roses working all sides of the political battleground this year trying to take advantage of the badminton-player thinkers in both political parties.
— D.G. Martin hosts “North Carolina Bookwatch,” which airs Fridays at 9:30 p.m. and Sundays at 5 p.m. on UNC-TV. For more information or to view prior programs visit the webpage at www.unctv.org/ncbookwatch/.