I am voting for Romney. There, I said it. Unfortunately, I don’t get to vote in the primary until June because I live in California, one of the few states where Obama is above water.
I supported Romney in 2008 because he was the most conservative candidate who had a reasonable chance of getting elected. That is my basic guideline. OK, I stole it off of Bill Buckley but I have many ideas that were his first. I wasn’t alone in supporting Romney either. Pretty much every conservative that I respect was backing him then, including Hugh Hewitt and Ann Coulter. Romney is the same guy today that he was four years ago, but he is now somehow perceived as liberal. Because he hasn’t changed a single position since then, I don’t think it is fair to say that he was conservative then and is liberal now.
Problem With Romneycare
I acknowledge that my fellow conservatives have legitimate gripes with Romney. In particular, “Romneycare” was used as a blueprint for the plan ultimately adopted under Obama known affectionately as “Obamacare.” This criticism is valid; however, consider that Gingrich, Romney’s main contender for the GOP nomination, was for government takeover of health care up until . . . well . . . up until it was actually taken over by the government. Further, Romney makes a fair case that, under Federalism, it is constitutional for the State of Massachusetts to mandate that its residents purchase health care, but not constitutional for the federal government to do so. The founders saw 13 states (now 50 or, if you’re the current president, 57) conducting experiments in law. If a citizen of one state doesn’t like a law, they can move to another state without the law. One can’t do that under Obamacare without giving up one’s country.
An LDS President
The other elephant in the room (pun intended) is usually brought up by my fellow Evangelicals. Romney is a Mormon. Mormons claim to be Christians, but the greater Christian community does not perceive them as such. At base they aren’t Trinitarians, which is really the most fundamental Christian tenant. If you don’t believe in the Trinity, you aren’t a Christian. You may be a fine person but the term “Christian” really doesn’t apply. Dennis Prager illuminated this point for me recently when he used the example of Jews and Jews for Jesus. It isn’t the Jews for Jesus’ Christianity that is the problem. The problem is they claim to be Jews when in fact they practice Christianity. If Mormons didn’t call themselves Christians, the “problem” would go away. Many Mormon beliefs and practices seem wacky to non-Mormons, however, to non-believers, all religious beliefs and practices seem wacky. Catholics drink blood and eat flesh every Sunday. Jews believed that God wrote his commandments on stone tablets and Moses parted the Red Sea with a stick. To those Christians who would only support an Evangelical Christian for POTUS, I have two words: Jimmy Carter. Yep, he was – and still is – an Evangelical Christian. He is also a bitter old man and the worst President in the past 100 years until Obama, another Christian, took that mantle from him. I prefer to judge people by their actions and let God judge their hearts. I have known many Mormons over the years. They are some of the kindest, most generous, patriotic, honest, and family-affirming people that I have ever met. In other words, while I do not share their theology, I do share their values.
After Carter - Reagan, After Obama . . .
Another problem is that conservatives (and many others) know that history repeats. It certainly does, but not always in the same way. Currently, many conservatives subscribe to the idea that where the Carter administration’s failures led to Reagan’s election, the Obama administration’s failures should lead to the election of a Reaganesque Republican. Obama is a man of the left and has repeated many of the mistakes of the Carter Administration to similar results on both the domestic and international fronts. After Carter, we got Reagan, the greatest President of the modern era. Not only did Reagan help turn around a stagnant economy with double digit inflation and interest rates, he also turned around the mood of the country. We believed in our greatness again. Oh, and he did what was thought impossible, he defeated the Soviet Union without firing a shot. Millions of people around the world live in freedom today largely because of Ronald Reagan’s vision.
Unfortunately, we don’t appear to have Reagan waiting in the wings this go-around. Romney has the potential. He also has the potential to be GHW Bush too. I wish that Romney inspired people like Reagan did, but he doesn’t. Part of the problem is that Reagan’s ideas on tax cuts, government, and a robust American military have become part of the DNA of the GOP so that all the candidates sound like Reagan. Therefore, there is no stark contrast to which to differentiate candidates. Don’t get me wrong, there are many candidates that inspire, but they aren’t running now. There are people like Marco Rubio, who will be President one day. People like Chris Christie, whose bluntness and fearlessness in dealing with public workers unions remind us of the Gipper. There is also Congressman Ryan, Governor Jindal, Congressman West, and a whole host of governors and congress people who were recently elected in 2010. To draw a baseball analogy, they are our farm team, our Triple A. We have a deep bench. The problem is none of them are ready, by their own decisions, for the big leagues.
The Army You Have
In my opinion, the other main GOP candidates – Gingrich, Santorum and Ron Paul – are less likely to beat Obama. First of all, there’s Gingrich, late November’s flavor of the month. He is the strongest of the non-Romneys. His big achievement was the Republican takeover of congress in 1994, which put him in as speaker in 1995. His tumultuous run as Speaker ended in 1998 with his resignation as Speaker and his subsequent resignation from the House. To his credit, he did get Clinton to sign on to welfare reform and helped preside over the only balanced budget in recent memory. However, Republicans who worked closely with Gingrich don’t like him and are not supporting him. My problem with Newt is that I remember stuff. I remember his ads with Al Sharpton and Nancy Pelosi from just a few years ago. True, Romney flipped on abortion but at least he flipped in my direction. Gingrich has been all over the map on single payer, global warming, you name it. Gingrich is an idea man. He has a lot of ideas but he doesn’t stick with them and follow them through. He has idea ADHD. For this reason, Obama can just run ads with Gingrich talking and that should be enough for Gingrich to defeat Gingrich. And, I haven’t even touched on the mess that is his personal life.
Ron Paul. What is there to say? He is dead right on domestic spending. If we had a dual Presidency, one for domestic and one as commander in chief, Dr. Paul would be perfect on the domestic side. But, because the primary job of the President is to be commander in chief, Ron Paul would be worse internationally than even Obama. Naiveté is cute in children, dangerous in adults. Ron Paul is like a patient in an insane asylum. Point by point the patient makes rational logical statements. You even wonder why the patient is there . . . until he says something so batshit crazy that you think, “oh, that explains it.” Add to that the resemblance of his followers to cult members and you can see why there is no way Ron Paul will be President. His son, on the other hand, I would add to the top of our farm team.
That leaves Rick Santorum, probably the main social conservative to contend for the nomination. There really aren’t any big negatives on Santorum . . . just thathe got his butt handed to him in his last election contest. He also doesn’t have the private sector experience of Romney. He really has no executive experience at all.
Perry can’t talk and doesn’t appear to want the job. He reminds me of this election’s Fred Thompson. Huntsman is even blander than Romney. Also, I would rather choose a governor who ran a blue state and tried to govern it a bit redder than a red state governor who tried to make it bluer. Plus, he worked in the Obama administration. While I love Bachmann, few others do. Also, she doesn’t have any executive experience either.
When he was at Bain Capital, Romney helped create jobs with companies like Home Depot and Staples. As governor, he worked to balance a budget without raising taxes.
I have heard it said before that if 2012 is about Obama and his policies, we’ll win. If he can turn it around and make it about our candidate, we lose. Romney is squeaky clean. He has been married to the same woman for 40 plus years. His personal life is pretty dull and will be hard for Obama’s folks to make an attack ad. They will, of course, but it will be more of a reach.
Since 2008, Romney has established a national political organization. This will be crucial to GOTV efforts. Organization matters andRomney is organized. Romney rarely, if ever, loses his cool. Obama will try to push his buttons in the debates, hoping that Romney will fly off the handle, say something stupid, and appear un-Presidential. Romney won’t take the bait. Even when arguing, Romney appears classy and polite.
One final note on Romney. He is very smart and keeps getting better. In each debate he is better than the last and he seems to have a firm grasp on nearly every issue. There is zero chance he will be unprepared in a debate.
The best decisions are made with more reason than emotion. There isn’t much emotion in my decision to support Romney. To quote Michael Corleone, “it isn’t personal. It’s just business.”