Reasons for Romney’s loss

The Republican Party had a very good shot at winning the 2012 U.S. presidential election. One major reason was that, before this election, no U.S. President had succeeded in reelection when the unemployment rate was higher than 7.3 percent. At the time of the election, the unemployment rate was 7.8 percent. So why did the Republican Party, specifically its candidate Mitt Romney, lose this presidential election?

There were several reasons for the Republicans’ loss. First, the Republican Party was too blunt in their opposition of the immigration reform proposed by the Democratic Party. The major content of this immigration reform bill was to pardon the illegal immigrants that had worked hard for their families and paid taxes for years without breaking laws during their stay, even though they had illegally emigrated to the U.S., and give them a path to permanent residency. The Republicans, in contrast, asserted that illegal immigrants should be arrested and deported to their countries, since they were criminals that had already broken the law by entering the country illegally. Even though public opinion leaned toward pardoning them, the conservative Republican Party stuck to its principles and ignored public opinion.

Secondly, the callous gaffe that Romney made by saying that 47 percent of the nation did not pay taxes and depended on the government became a problem. In fact, the statement was based on facts in terms of income taxes, but it hurt the pride of people with lower incomes. Because of this mistake, even white people in lower income classes turned their backs against Romney.

Thirdly, the Republican Party did not recognize the changes in the electorate of the U.S. The party failed to make a close political connection with Hispanics, even though Hispanics were the most rapidly growing ethnicity in the U.S., and the party made a vast, anachronistic miscalculation to primarily focus on getting white votes, as it did in the past. The Republican Party did not realize that America had been changed. In this presidential election, 93 percent of blacks, 76 percent of Asians, and 74 percent of Hispanics voted for Obama. Republicans did not expect that Hispanic and Asian votes would go to Obama in such overwhelming numbers, though they must have expected such support for Obama from black voters.

Fourthly, the Republican Party did not expect that the American people would think generously of the economic policies of President Obama, in that the President had been doing well for the U.S. economy to maintain this level in spite of the recession in Europe. Despite Republican assertions that the economy had worsened during the last four years under Obama, people did not think that it was Obama’s fault. Romney fiercely attacked Obama with the current economic indices of the U.S. But American people were convinced by Obama’s appeal to give him four more years to overcome the European financial crisis and revive the U.S. economy.

Fifthly, the Republican Party selected 42 year-old-Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan as the running mate of Romney, in an attempt to sway younger voters in their 30s and 40s, a large part of Obama’s base. Ryan, based on his experience as the chairman of the House Budget Committee, fiercely attacked the economic policy of Obama with thorough mathematic data, but he failed to convince American voters and any results that could help the Republican Party in his debate with a political veteran, Vice President Joseph Biden. This was another reason why Romney lost this election.

Now the Republican Party should prepare for a fight against President Obama in the House of Representatives over the debt ceiling. As a result of the defeat in this presidential election, the fight will go on until the very last moment, but, unlike what happened 15 years ago, there will not be a government shutdown. The reason is that Republicans should take into consideration that the next presidential election that will come four years from now. Without an incumbent, there is a high probability for the Republican Party to win the next presidential election. I expect that the American people will want a Republican president four years from now.

Jay Kim is a former U.S. congressman. He serves as chairman of the Kim Chang Joon US-Korea Foundation. For more information, visit Kim’s website at http://www.jayckim.com.

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After US presidential debates

By Jay KimFor the 2012 U.S. presidential election, the two candidates, President Barack Obama and former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney, have had three TV debates. The first was held in Denver, Colo., on Oct. 3. It was focused on domestic policy, and 60 million people watched the 90-minute event. Sixty-seven percent of the public thought that Romney won it. Almost all of the media said that the debate was a sweeping victory for him, and even James Carville, who played a major role in Bill Clinton’s win in the 1992 election, expressed his disappointment, saying that it looked like “Obama did not want to be there.” Romney listed the failures of Obama’s “trickle-down government,” to which the President didn’t have any answers.  And during the whole debate, Obama looked down at his notes, and drew criticism from all corners, even Democrats, that he did not look presidential. In short, he entirely lost the first debate.

Strangely, polls showed just a 5 percent drop in support for Obama after the first debate. Furthermore, good news came from the Department of Labor that the unemployment rate sharply decreased from 8.1 percent in July to 7.8 percent in September, which brought the S&P 500 up by 0.43 percent. It was perfect timing for the Obama campaign to stop the fall and shift momentum back to the President. After all, Romney’s overwhelming win in the first debate fell short of giving him a big boost in popularity.

The second debate was on Oct. 16. It took the form of a town hall meeting where 80 undecided voters, selected by Gallup, participated and asked the candidates questions. Obama prepared for two days at a resort in Virginia in an effort to recover from the humiliation of the first debate. Romney came to the debate triumphantly carrying the momentum of the first one. Surprisingly, the public decided by 5 percent that the second debate was a victory for Obama, who strongly rebutted many of Romney’s arguments. The debate became quite personal, and the moderator (Candy Crowley from CNN) arguably added to the fraying tempers.

Romney severely criticized the Obama administration over the terrorist attack at the U.S. Embassy in Libya, for initially announcing that the attack, which killed four American diplomats including the U.S. ambassador, was caused by a spontaneous demonstration, only later to describe the incident as a planned terrorist attack. Then Romney further attacked Obama for attending a fundraiser in Las Vegas following such a serious incident, and that it took 14 days for Obama to admit that the attack was an act of terrorism. In response, Obama stood up from his seat and refuted Romney’s accusation, pointing out that he announced in the Rose Garden the day after the attack that it was an act of terrorism. The moderator, who I feel should have left the subject alone, said to Romney that Obama was right, and the President asked her to repeat this again a little louder. Later, Obama harshly criticized Romney over China, saying that even though he was talking tough regarding the country, he had made many investments in Chinese companies that build surveillance equipment to spy on their own people.

Furthermore, when a college student expressed concern about getting a job after graduation during the debate, Romney answered that the middle class had been crushed by four years of Obama’s policies and things would become worse during another four years under him. Against this, Obama claimed that he was the one who saved the American automobile industry, while pointing out that Romney claimed that the Detroit car industry should go bankrupt.

The third debate, which was on foreign policy, had a lower TV rating as expected. It was not expected to be interesting, because the two candidates already went after each other on Libya during the second, and, in fact, there is no big difference in foreign policy between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. Also, Monday Night Football was on that day.

As expected, Romney criticized Obama’s foreign policy for lack of leadership, and Obama refuted this, claiming that his administration was sweeping away al-Qaida and the issue of Libya would also be resolved in a matter of time. Romney attacked Obama on China, its currency manipulation and its stealing of U.S. intellectual property. Obama seemed to escape with poor answers, but the public decided that he won the debate.

In U.S. history, no president has ever been reelected when the unemployment rate has been higher than 7.2 percent. The reason that Obama is maintaining his lead over Romney despite the unemployment rate being over 7.8 percent seems to be the result of people thinking that they should allow Obama four more years because the U.S. economy is doing well compared with the European economy that is in serious financial turmoil.

It seems that there has never been an election as unpredictable as this one. Things, however, look just as perplexing in the Korean presidential election.

Jay Kim is a former U.S. congressman. He serves as chairman of the Kim Chang Joon US-Korea Foundation. For more information, visit Kim’s website at http://www.jayckim.com.

`Polifessors’

“Polifessor” is a new term that has recently appeared in the Korean media. It refers to a college professor that puts aside research or teaching to follow around a presidential candidate, hoping for a government position if they win. It carries a satirical tone, as the user is ridiculing the shameful behavior of such professors.The news that around 500 professors (a surprising number) were flocking around the three major presidential candidates has made the front pages of Korean newspapers. That number would account for the whole faculty of a typical college. What would happen to these schools short of professors to teach their students? Certainly, part-time lecturers or teaching assistants will fill in for those who are leaving the students behind. From what I hear, compared with the polifessors, young part-time lecturers have far better scholastic and academic backgrounds and are more determined to put all of their energy into teaching but they cannot find appropriate positions because of these territorial polifessors. Furthermore, this kind of situation, where part-time lecturers have difficulty earning even 900,000 won per month, has led some of them to tragically commit suicide.

I think that these 500 polifessors, if they follow the presidential candidates with the goal of securing a role in the future administration, should resign from their positions at universities and give the younger lecturers opportunities. They have not shown willingness to spend their whole career on campus performing research and teaching. They also have nothing to lose in their political endeavors, since they can always go back to their universities if things do not work out. By not giving up their positions, they are trying to have it both ways. If they have as strong a resolve as Ahn Cheol-soo (who said he burned bridges behind him) has shown in his campaign, they should also have submitted their resignations to their schools before they got into politics, just as Ahn did.

Quite a few of them, I believe, might have left their campuses out of patriotic passion, not for a government job, but for our country. It is questionable, however, if the nation would trust their word, given the example that their greedier brethren have set.

In the U.S., I have never seen a case where college professors put aside their jobs to join political campaigns and follow candidates around. From time to time, I saw cases where a professor with certain expertise accepted a key position in the administration after a personal invitation from the president but those are also very rare cases. U.S. professors have the determination to spend their whole lives committed to education. They have a job that is respected by society, and their typical dream is to win a Nobel Prize. I have seen many professors who study all night in their offices to provide better education for young people. The announcement of the 2012 Nobel prize winners finished last week, and the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, whose winner was announced last, went to two U.S. university professors. Almost half of the 2012 Nobel Prizes went to the U.S. as usual.

Many professors in Korea show more interest in politics than in Nobel Prizes. Thus, despite the highest ratio of professors to the total population, there is no Nobel laureate among our college professors. South Africa has Nobel laureates, and China won the prize in literature this year. Any country comparable to ours seems to have Nobel Prize winners in sciences and literature but we do not have one. I believe that our polifessors should be ashamed of themselves.

I think that it is morally right that polifessors give up their professorships to enter into politics and make room for the younger part-time lecturers. I also think that it would be appropriate for universities to have a regulation that forces a full-time faculty member to resign in order to move into politics. Only then we will have Nobel Prize winners in our universities.

Jay Kim is a former U.S. congressman. He serves as chairman of the Kim Chang Joon US-Korea Foundation. For more information, visit Kim’s website at http://www.jayckim.com.