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US Elections Opinion: The GOP Needs to Listen to Mitt Romney

See Also US Elections 2012 Special: EA's Live Coverage and Analysis

US Elections Video: Barack Obama's Acceptance Speech

Barack Obama won a decisive victory last night, taking both the popular and electoral vote. However, America does not feel any more united than it did before the polls opened. In fact, it feels more divided than ever. In the very early hours of the morning there was a man who could have broadened the divide or could have set the GOP, and the country, on the path of reconciliation and unity.

His name was Mitt Romney, and it appears he chose reconciliation over division.

The initial reactions on Facebook were telling. While there were many celebratory people, and a few not-so-brave souls in my timeline who waited to "Like" Barack Obama until AFTER the election was over, there were obviously also disappointments, sighs, and somewhere in the middle plenty of wishes that the country knew what it was doing (sentiments that even many Obama supporters shared).

Then there were the things that could get you arrested, or the things that were close - and they were some of the most popular posts.

A friend showed me a conversation held by some of her relatives. One person said that they would move to Canada because the country was a doomed socialism. Someone said he was the devil. Another said that a flight to Canada is not needed because "he'll be dead or impeached soon." This comment was liked, and added to. "Yeah, I agree, dead or impeached. And good - the country will be better off without him." As an afterthought, in a follow-up comment, this was added: "Not that I condone violence, of course. It will just probably happen."

And I wasn't surprised at all. The fact is that for nearly two hours last night, it appeared that a large portion of the public, an army of pundits and campaign contributors, and perhaps even the GOP candidate himself, would not accept the outcome of the election - an outcome that was decisive and clear. Karl Rove, who invested an unthinkable amount of money in this campaign, begged the Conservative network, Fox News, to retract their conclusion that Obama won the Presidency (based on Ohio, which Obama did not even need to win the election, and which he won anyway). Other pundits sounded even more radical. Here's Donald Trump:

Donald was right about one thing - the division is palpable. Romney won among white men by at least 25 points. He lost among nearly every other demographic.

But who divided the country? Even before the final election result, you could hear so much in the following statement from Political Pundit Bill O'Reilly:

So that's it. O'Reilly, who is a hot head but usually a more moderate hot head than some of his peers, may have put forth the dominant narrative. White men don't "want stuff" so they voted for Romney. Women and minorities "want stuff" so they voted for Obama. And these scary, needy, mooching group of people are growing. And we should be scared.

Is it any wonder that half the country wants a revolution?

Is this fear founded? Andrew Sullivan (a Conservative) believes Obama is more conservative than Reagan. Some Liberals think so too. So do the Institute for Policy Studies, Ezra Klein, and many others.

While some Conservatives have called Obama a socialist, a communist, or an ultra-left wing radical, or even accused Obama of basically letting Jihadists run the government, he's basically a moderate Democrat, to the right of recent Democratic Presidents - a centrist pragmatist whose most liberal and radical piece of legislation, "Obamacare," is modeled after Mitt Romney's own plan which is in turn just an expansion of the original Republican plan for Medicare and Medicaid.

Like Obama or hate him, disagree with him or support him, the intense rhetoric is not based in Obama's extremism, but in the extremism of some of his detractors.

The labeling, the branding - and the Republican message in general - didn't work. It's time to move on.

But then something remarkable happened. Mitt Romney, refusing to be interrupted by jeers from his own supporters, gave a genuine, moving, heart-felt concession speech, one that said everything that needed to be said to put these old wounds behind us.

Below, I've posted the entire transcript, with my comments inline:

Mr. Romney: Thank you.

I have just called President Obama to congratulate him on his victory.

His supporters and his campaign also deserve congratulations. I wish all of them well, but particularly the president, the first lady and their daughters.

First, this is what America needed to hear. The race was over. Officially. It was not contested. There was no doubt. Barack Obama won both the Electoral College vote and the Popular Vote. Stop talking about the vast conspiracy to steal the race. America voted, and Mitt Romney lost. It was one of the most important pieces to this short speech.

Second, it was gracious. Mitt Romney was a person, thanking a person and his family for their work, and wishing them well. Obama was not some devil, wearing a joker mask, plotting to blow up churches or something. He was a man, trying to serve his country. This has been the underlying understanding of American politics at most points of its entire history, and it has been what has been lost today.

This is a time of great challenges for America, and I pray that the president will be successful in guiding our nation.

This is a time of great challenge. But not because Obama is some radical socialist. The economy is on the edge of a knife, and if you believe in a higher being then you should pray this same prayer.

I want to thank Paul Ryan for all that he has done for our campaign and for our country. Besides my wife, Ann, Paul is the best choice I’ve ever made. And I trust that his intellect and his hard work and his commitment to principle will continue to contribute to the good of our nation.

I also want to thank Ann, the love of my life. She would have been a wonderful first lady. She’s _ she has been that and more to me and to our family and to the many people that she has touched with her compassion and her care.

I thank my sons for their tireless work on behalf of the campaign, and thank their wives and children for taking up the slack as their husbands and dads have spent so many weeks away from home.

I want to thank Matt Rhoades and the dedicated campaign team he led. They have made an extraordinary effort not just for me, but also for the country that we love.

And to you here tonight, and to the team across the country _ the volunteers, the fundraisers, the donors, the surrogates _ I don’t believe that there’s ever been an effort in our party that can compare with what you have done over these past years. Thank you so very much.

Thanks for all the hours of work, for the calls, for the speeches and appearances, for the resources and for the prayers. You gave deeply from yourselves and performed magnificently. And you inspired us and you humbled us. You’ve been the very best we could have imagined.

This was heartfelt and genuine. Though it doesn't have a lot of earth-shattering content, I've worked on campaigns and I know how the voters, and the workers, feel. This is a staple of concession speeches, though it was lacking in some of the more partisan approaches taken by candidates on both sides of the isle yesterday.

The nation, as you know, is at a critical point. At a time like this, we can’t risk partisan bickering and political posturing. Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the people’s work. And we citizens also have to rise to the occasion.

This is the heart of the argument. Even Conservative think tanks have called this last session of Congress the "worst Congress ever," and have blamed this solely on Republican obstructionism and partisanship. I've worked for the most moderate Democrat in the Massachusetts State Senate, and I drive through the Tip O'Neill tunnel 3-5 times a week. I understand bi-partisanship, and it is bi-partisanship and compromise that have crippled Obama's ability to accomplish many things.

More importantly, though, Romney is not calling for war or revolution or (God forbid) assassination. He's calling for understanding. He lost. He knows he lost. He knows his party lost. But they can still get things done.

We look to our teachers and professors, we count on you not just to teach, but to inspire our children with a passion for learning and discovery. We look to our pastors and priests and rabbis and counselors of all kinds to testify of the enduring principles upon which our society is built: honesty, charity, integrity and family. We look to our parents, for in the final analysis everything depends on the success of our homes. We look to job creators of all kinds. We’re counting on you to invest, to hire, to step forward. And we look to Democrats and Republicans in government at all levels to put the people before the politics.

Now the work begins. Romney is saying that it is up to you, to us, to the American people, to make this country great. There may have even been a hint of criticism here - if you don't try to make the country great, Obama will try for you, and larger government goes against Romney's core belief.

I believe in America. I believe in the people of America. And I ran for office because I’m concerned about America. This election is over, but our principles endure. I believe that the principles upon which this nation was founded are the only sure guide to a resurgent economy and to renewed greatness.

It's not the end of the world. It's not a travesty, it's not the end times. We can do this, even with Obama as President. There's a hint of warning to the Liberals, to be sure, that they need to adhere to principles that Romney believes Obama has strayed from, but there is also a message to his own people - work for a better America, with Obama, because this is not cause for revolution.

Like so many of you, Paul and I have left everything on the field. We have given our all to this campaign.

I so wish _ I so wish that I had been able to fulfill your hopes to lead the country in a different direction, but the nation chose another leader. And so Ann and I join with you to earnestly pray for him and for this great nation.

America chose Obama. Not Kenya, or the Muslim Brotherhood, or the American Media, or some vast Left-Wing conspiracy, or Acorn, or the Black Panthers, or the communists - America chose Barack Obama.

Now, it's time to work with him and get stuff done.

Thank you, and God bless America. You guys are the best. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thanks, guys.

Thank you, Mr. Romney. I hope that the Republican party continues to fight for what it believes, because I believe that the American political system needs balance. But I also hope that your own party hears your message. It is time for Republicans to work with Democrats, not against them, to get things done.

It's what's been missing for the last four years.

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