The 2014 election is over and attention has already turned to 2016. Does the Republican success in this election portend a similarly favorable outcome in two years – as did the Democrat congressional sweep in 2006 herald the election of a Democrat President in 2008? Perhaps. But, of course, a great deal depends on whom the GOP nominates. And lately, there has been a lot of talk that one of the serious possibilities is Mitt Romney. Well, I am about to tell you why that would be an unmitigated disaster for the Republican Party and for our country.
First of all, Romney ran a terrible campaign in 2012. Barack Obama’s litany of failures in his first four years was clearly evident to the American people well before the election. Yet Romney was unable to capitalize on them. It is almost beyond imagination that he was unable to articulate clearly why Fast & Furious, Obamacare, Dodd-Frank and the Benghazi outrage were colossal failures that endangered the nation. Moreover, his equal inability to describe clearly and simply what he would do differently, what philosophy motivated him and how his policies would benefit the country was also a glaring failure. He came across as a wooden, detached, corporate-type with no flair, no charisma and no passion. The nail in his coffin was when he allowed Candy Crowley to intervene in the third debate in order to rescue Obama from a debacle on the Benghazi issue. If Romney could not stand up to Candy, how could he be expected to stand up to the Chinese and Russian presidents or to the Iranian ayatollahs?
Next, the Obama camp was able to cast Romney as a corporate stooge, beholden to big business interests and out of touch with the average American worker. The Dems portrayed rich Mitt as aristocratic, unsympathetic and heartless. Romney was unable to counter these impressions. In fact, he reinforced them with his ill-advised 47% remark. Moreover, he never launched any counterattack. Mitt was content to talk about what he’d done at Bain, but – like McCain – he made no effort to point out the unsavory nature of Obama’s history, associates or polarizing proclivities.
Third, there was the Mormon thing. It’s disturbing to think so, but it might have played a role in the vast number of evangelicals who declined to vote. That may be unfair, but Mitt should have anticipated it. Like Kennedy did with the Catholic issue, Romney should have gotten in front of it, argued strenuously that his religion would play no role in his presidency and thereby not turn off the evangelicals.
Finally, he never conveyed any sense of historical political understanding. He never discussed the increasing role that collectivism has been playing in our society, how it is a betrayal of the Founder’s vision and how it damages the nation – and why the continuation in office of Barack Obama would push us dangerously close to a transformation of the Republic into a Euro-style social welfare state. Yes he said “big government bad, free market capitalism good.” But it always seemed like the recitation of a mantra rather than an articulation of why progressives like Obama were destroying the nation.
Which leads to an even more devastating evaluation of Romney’s candidacy. Had he won, he certainly would have been better than Obama. But I seriously doubt that it would have made any difference in the long-term trajectory of these United States.
In the last century the progressive movement has captured the culture of the nation. Progressives now control virtually all of the opinion-molding organs of American society: the media, libraries, museums, public education, the legal profession, seminaries, higher education, foundations, the federal bureaucracy – and of course, the Democrat Party. A half century ago, very few – for example, Bill Buckley, Barry Goldwater – understood what was happening. It is only since Reagan that more Americans began to catch on. And while a substantial part of the GOP has grown conservative and aware of the historical transformation, alas, many – especially those in the so-called GOP establishment – are either in the dark or worse, in agreement with the program. Reagan made an effort to thwart the leftward drift of the nation. And while he had great success in foreign and economic affairs, he had hardly any lasting impact on cultural or social matters. Furthermore, neither of the two Republican presidents since Reagan (coincidentally, both named Bush) made any effort similar to Reagan’s. They both came from a long tradition in the party – exemplified by Eisenhower and Nixon – of GOP leaders who apparently believe one of two things:
- The conversion of the US from a constitutional republic, practicing free market capitalism and devoted to individual liberty into a Euro-style social welfare state is a good thing. It’s just that we in the GOP can do it so much more effectively and efficiently than the hair-brained Democrats can; or
- The afore-mentioned is not a good thing, but it seems to be inevitable because that is what the people want. Repeat second sentence in #1 above.
Mitt Romney is, without any doubt, one of this type of Republican. Whether he comes from camp 1 or 2 is unclear – he governed Massachusetts according to #1, but his book paints him as #2. Whichever he is, it is irrelevant. If there is to be any hope of reversing America’s century-long slide toward socialist oblivion, we will need to experience a cultural counter-revolution. A key part of that movement would be a succession of GOP presidents who understand the issue and have the leadership skills to guide the country’s politics back to the ethos of the Founding Fathers. Mitt Romney is not such an individual.
This essay also appeared in The American Thinker