What is Mitt Romney doing in the Republican Party? (Although a better question might by why has the Republican Party strayed so far to the left that a guy like Mitt Romney could be its standard bearer…)
Everyone knows the story of Mitt Romney. He ran Bain Capital and financed a number of new businesses and helped rescue others. True, he and Bain failed a few times, but Bain Capital did what it was supposed to do, which is make money for its shareholders. At the end of the day Bain Capital was a net plus in that it actually produced prosperity (and jobs) for a significant number of people, and that accomplishment cannot be obviated simply because they could not rescue every firm they took a position in.
In 1994 Romney sought to unseat Ted Kennedy from the US Senate but lost as Kennedy pilloried him for lacking core (political) convictions. The fact that he had difficulty establishing a coherent message didn’t help. He lost badly. In 2002 he headed west to manage the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. By all accounts he did a tremendous job and accomplished the financial equivalent of a perfect game, making the Olympics profitable for the host city.
Then of course there was his stint as governor of one of the bluest states in the union, Massachusetts. Like Scott Brown, a Republican in Teddy Kennedy’s neighborhood can be expected to be a RINO, and Romney certainly fit the bill. On a variety of issues both social and economic Romney was… shall we say purple in his approach. But at the end of the day he was more conservative than his predecessor in one of America’s most liberal states.
Add to that the fact that he’s a good looking guy with a great family and he seems like a poster child for putting Barack Obama in the unemployment line. It’s claimed he’s the Republican who can deliver Massachusetts and other key states like as Pennsylvania, Florida and probably Ohio and Nevada.
The problem is, he won’t.
When conservatives stand by conservative ideals, when conservatives clearly and coherently articulate the conservative principles of limited government, fiscal restraint and low taxes, they win. Not sure? In the three Reagan elections (counting Bush-41 in ’88 as an extension of Reagan’s policies) the GOP garnered 54% of the popular vote and beat the Democrats by an average of 11.9%. Contrast that with the elections since Reagan, beginning with Bush 41’s second run. Over the course of those five elections, the GOP has garnered an average of 44.4% of the vote while the Democrats earned an average of 48.3%. The GOP went from an average of 11.9% ahead to an average deficit of 4.4%. That is a 15 point swing in the wrong direction. What’s the difference? Solid conservative vs. milquetoast moderate. Unfortunately Mittens Romney is an extension of that milquetoast strategy.
Ominously, while 2012 may be the most important American election in a century, the two candidates seeking the White House are not going to be particularly distinguishable to voters – if we assume Mittens gets the nomination. Everyone knows that Barack Obama is a statist with socialist & populist instincts. Romney, in slight contrast, may be a capitalist, but on government policy he’s not enormously different. He supported the government’s TARP bailouts of the banks, he regularly plays the populist card of middle class tax cuts while arguing for increasing taxes on the rich, and of course there is RomneyCare, his signature achievement in Massachusetts that was literally the blueprint for the thing he rails against at every whistle-stop event: ObamaCare. Then there is his 59 point tax plan which does little to streamline the tax code and of course penalizes those earning over $200,000 a year. Finally there is his bizarre suggestion last week that the minimum wage should be indexed to inflation, something even our Socialist in Chief has not suggested. (Is it possible that the financial genius Mitt has no clue about how actual economics work?)
At this critical time when the United States is so clearly heading down the road to perdition what the country needs is someone to stand up on the biggest soapbox he can find and sing the praises of the capitalist system and make a clear and articulate argument for small, constitutional, limited government. We need someone to inspire and challenge the American people to throw off the yoke of the nanny state and pick themselves up by their bootstraps and in doing so become the economic vanguard of the world once again. Unfortunately, what we get instead is a GOP candidate who is in many respects largely indistinguishable from his statist, redistributionist opponent.
There is an old saying that you can’t fight something with nothing. In the case of Mitt Romney the GOP is hoping to fight the omnipresent government type Obama with the slightly less onerous, big government type Romney. Conservatives despise Barack Obama and they would likely turn out to vote if the GOP were to trot out Mickey Mouse to run against him. They won’t require the GOP to light a fire under them to get them to the polls. The middle sea of “moderates” on the other hand won’t respond to nothing. If the mass of largely disengaged Americans who are not political junkies finds that there is little or nothing to distinguish the candidates from one another then they will likely remain on the sidelines and not bother to vote. In a tight race intensity is the key to success. As such, Romney is a losing candidate. As can be seen by the fervency of the not-Romney elements of the GOP, the anemic turnout in Florida and Romney’s canned speeches and uninspiring debate performances, Mitt Romney is incapable of stirring the animal spirits of the base, never mind the general public.
Barack Obama is salivating at the prospect of facing off against Mittens. Knowing that Romney is incapable of articulating or defending strong conservative principals or even inspiring his own party – never mind the muddling middle – Obama can do what he does best: demagogue Republicans (up and down the ticket) and inspire his base with populist platitudes that are like blood in the water to the left. The result will not only be another four years of Barack Obama, but it will likely mean something of a bloodbath in the down ticket races as well, from the House to the neighborhood dog catcher.
Mitt Romney may be the candidate who finally puts an end to a Republican Party that has outlived its usefulness and ushers in a truly conservative Tea Party driven party. One might wish that GOP good riddance. The only question is however, will the United States as we know it survive another four years of Barack Obama so that there’s something left for the Tea Party calvary to come to the rescue of?