The following originally appeared on Yi! News.
Last year, contributing editor Brian endorsed then-Republican presidential candidate Gary Johnson. Johnson fled the GOP for the Libertarian Party; joined by Jim Gray, he now hopes to gain five percent of the nationwide vote. Having made the positive case for Johnson, Brian will now make the case against both major parties’ candidates. First up is the Republican nominee, Willard “Mitt” Romney.
Mitt Romney takes a lot of heat, which is understandable. After all, there is a lot to dislike about the guy.
Unfortunately, we’re focused on all of the wrong things. That Romney is wealthy. That he has used all means at his disposal to pay as few taxes as possible. That he’s refused to divulge his tax returns. That he isn’t relatable to the everyman. That he’s out of touch.
None of these should concern us, yet some variant of these claims make up a large majority of critiques against him. So long as his wealth was earned without government favors, we should laud it. If he obeyed the law in lowering his taxes and hiding his returns, he’s acting no differently than most of us would. And perhaps the most relatable, chummy president of the past 20 years – George W. Bush – was also its worst. I love a good beer, but it doesn’t concern me that my president might not be able to drink one with me.
None of these things bother me. What bothers me is that Mitt Romney is one of the most baldly power-hungry politicians in recent memory. He has, for the past 20-some years, wanted nothing more than to exercise power – granted through the state – over his fellow man.
For all the Romney camp’s accusations against President Barack Obama of being a “career politician,” Romney has wanted to be one – he’s simply lost the elections. In 1994, he tried to take Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat and lost. After his term as Massachusetts governor expired, he sought the Republican Party’s nomination for the presidency… and lost. He then spent the past four years consolidating his donor network, reinventing himself politically and remedying his reputation with party elites. All of this time and effort was expended so that, in a 2012 primary field full of JV candidates, Romney could emerge as the least unacceptable.
Voters should be wary of someone who craves authority this badly. Our political system lends itself to constant campaigning, and the recent lack of Congressional oversight makes it easy for presidents to provide kickbacks to valued donors. Someone so obviously addicted to power is unlikely to act in what he deems to be the country’s best interest.
One could reasonably make the argument that some individuals seek the power of higher office as a means to a higher end. Fair enough. I’d counter that, first, such individuals in modern politics are exceedingly rare, and second, Romney is not one of these principled exceptions.
As governor of Massachusetts, Romney devoted much of his time and political capital to passing a comprehensive, government-run healthcare initiative. The act included an individual mandate (the legal requirement for citizens to purchase insurance) and was designed by MIT professor Jonathan Gruber, the same man who designed the Affordable Care Act. Yet in 2012, Romney has repeatedly blasted President Obama for passing “Obamacare” and has tried (unsuccessfully) to explain how his plan to force citizens to buy insurance under the state government’s authority was different from Obama’s plan to force citizens to buy insurance under the federal government’s authority. He’s even gone back on his disingenuous refutations of Obamacare, saying recently that he wouldn’t repeal the entire act, before “clarifying” the remark.
In the span of five years, Romney went from passing gun control laws as governor to praising the Second Amendment, joining the NRA and going out of his way to be photographed with hunting gear. He’s waffled on the subject of gay marriage even more than our current president. He backed George W. Bush’s taxpayer-funded faith based initiatives in 2007 before ranting in 2012 about an overbearing federal government. He’s gone back and forth on abortion multiple times, to the point where even his own campaign can’t seem to get their candidate’s position straight.
We all change our minds, or, to borrow an Obama-ism, “evolve” on certain subjects throughout our life. I’ve gone from a left wing anarchist to right wing neocon to libertarian within the span of 10 years. The difference, of course, is that my evolution took place between the ages of 15 and 25. Call me skeptical, but I don’t think a man well into his forties and fifties changes political philosophies so frequently without ulterior motives.
What would a President Romney hope to accomplish in office? Early on, he’d likely make token efforts to repeal Obamacare; it would come without political risk, and anyways, wouldn’t actually do anything. Past that? Unless you claim to know what the political circumstances will be a year from now, you really have no idea what he’ll do. If “compassionate conservatism” becomes cool again, taxpayers will be on the hook for increased drug war spending and welfare programs. If the tea party’s small government influence sticks, Romney might cut a bit of spending. And if the nation clamors for nuclear war with Iran, well, by golly, prep the home bomb shelter and get ready for some fireworks.
Mitt Romney, by all accounts, sounds like a tremendous human being. His philanthropic attitude and exceptional work ethic are to be admired. But a man this lustful for power and devoid of principle will not get my vote.