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Old 10-23-2012, 10:41 AM   Topic Starter
Direckshun Direckshun is offline
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Mitt Romney

It's obvious from the get-go that Romney was probably never going to get my vote. I'm a Democrat, I've always really liked the President and mostly approved of the job he's done, and I'm liberal. There's not a ton Romney offers me that I'm terribly interested in versus the horse I'm already backing -- except perhaps Olympic-caliber fancy dancing.

And originally, I never even liked the guy. I always felt like Romney looks like an experiment somebody conducted to turn a gigantic mutli-national corporation into a human being. In his appearance to his smooth professionalism to his occasional woodenness (his awkward, soul-less laughs during the Republican primary debates were amazing), all just looked like he'd been constructed in a lab by some corporation.

I'd liked the job he did as the governor of Massachussetts, obviously. His accomplishments there deserve praise. Massachussetts is always a nation-leader in healthcare, education, quality of life, combating poverty -- but he actually improved the state on all those fronts by becoming essentially a center-left governor. I've always got a soft spot for guys who can appreciate the other's point of view, and Romney's time as governor demonstrated that to me. He wasn't a flawless governor, but so few are. He was a strong governor in a state largely favored by his political opponents.

Of course, the Romneys of the '08 and '12 GOP primaries, really the Romney for the past seven years, had been deafeningly offputting for me. In the '08 primaries, you learned that Romney once ran as a straight-up liberal Republican a decade ago against Ted Kennedy. And now he was singing a completely different tune, and running against the absolute worst combination of candidates for that kind of record: McCain, who had decades of pretty consistently standing by his principles on his record, and Huckabee, a superbly charistmatic, silver-tongued debater who constantly exposed Romney's flip-flops while making him look completely unlikeable. (The best anti-Romney line to this day remains Huckabee's: "I trust a change of heart more on its way to Damascus than I do on its way to Des Moines.")

To make matters worse, all the things Romney did in the first place to make him so appealing to me, he blatantly ran away from -- he should have stood by Romneycare, and treated it as the greatest accomplishment he's made in his professional life. Instead, he ignored it and let Huckabee frame it on the campaign trail.

To go from hard liberal, to center-left, to hard-right just reeks of opportunism, bald ambition and careerism to me, and it didn't make matters better when he spent the next three years basically popping up on Fox News to argue that whatever Obama did at any time was the opposite of the right thing (except for murky, difficult issues like the Libyan intervention, in which nothing but radio silence was heard from his camp). Even while it was things Romney himself had once worked for and endorsed: the stimulus package, Obamacare, etc.

All the while, doing, well... nothing. He wasn't in office, he wasn't really running Bane anymore, he was just traveling the country, amassing donors for his next, inevitable run. And there's nothing less inspiring than simply running for President not because the moment demanded your service (as he was running for President in 2012 since January 21st, 2009), but simply because you have the financial and political infrastructure in place for it.

The Romney in 2012's primaries was less offensive to me in a way, primarily because he was the second-best candidate in the field behind Jon Huntsman. Romney and Huntsman displayed an ability to at least see what the other half the country was saying. But Gingrich, Cain, Bachmann, Perry, Santorum.... what an atrocious, inflexible field of folks who just hate roughly half the country. But at the same time, it was more offensive. The Republican Party had merged so crudely with the Tea Party wave at that point that Romney's only way forward was to go even further to the right of his 2008 persona, which for my money was "simply" hard-conservative. Now Romney had embraced reactionary regressivism, a point of view squarely at odds with my own, with so much of the Republican Party's pre-Tea Party history.

He endorsed Ryan's budget. He called the Arizona immigration law a national model. He threw away his time as a left-leaning governor and bragged about being a "severe conservative." He ran as the CEO of Bain, a company which served the interests of those running other companies, often times to the detriment of the workers. He favored huge, massive tax cuts for the wealthy on top of the huge, massive tax cuts they are already getting. He said he wasn't concerned about the very poor. He became a jingoist, exclaiming that any admission of America's missteps to others is apologizing for it. He's argued that we should treat Israel as the 51st state. He argued that the President should defer to his generals. Most damning to me: he argued that he would refuse 10 dollars in spending cuts for 1 dollar in additional revenue.

This Romney, of course, I detested. He seemed less detestable than Gingrich et al, but that's not exactly raising the bar.

Of course, he's since developed into a center-right candidate the past month. But that brings me to the very center of my dislike of Mitt Romney: despite this most recent evolution, I am genuinely concerned that he is a rightwing reactionary, or at least has developed into that guy the past five years.

And to everybody who wants to argue that there's no way Romney can be this guy, that he was a successful governor of a blue state, that his positions in the past month are the "real" him... I have several rebuttals.

1. There's just no way to know. There isn't. He's now run as a hardcore liberal and as a reactionary regressive. He's made pitstops at every location in between. There is absolutely no way to know which Romney is the real Romney, or how he will govern as President since he so frequently omits details and then reverses himself on key, fundamental issues like the federal budget and healthcare. It's entirely possible he emerges as the centrist figure his record as governor indicated. But given his blind ambition, it's also possible he was just doing in Massachussetts whatever he could to succeed so he could get to the next level and be more true to himself.

Reactionary, regressive policies would be absolutely damaging to this country at this time in its history. We're climbing through purgatory out of the 7th circle of hell that was the 2008-09 global recession. Income inequality is brutal, and devastating. The fundamental restructuring of how American companies operate in an ever-more-global economy will put even more Americans in underemployment or on the government dole. Class mobility is getting worse. As is, sadly, geographical mobility for a lot of Americans.

I am of the belief that the deeply regressive policies will put these people behind the eight ball even more than they are today. It is heartbreaking to think about. Any realistic chance that Romney could genuinely espouse these policies is a backbreaker for me.

2. Paul Ryan. Romney's embrace of the Ryan budget and the author behind it make me genuinely believe this is a man who holds Ryan's deeply regressive policies at the heart of his political considerations. Ryan's budget has been modified a few times to be slightly less insane, and Romney's embrace of it since winning the GOP nomination has weakened.

But selecting a running mate is the only Presidential decision non-incumbents make in an election. It's the only one with lasting consequences into your Presidency. And the fact that Romney chose to elevate Ryan to potentially being a heartbeat away from the Presidency is shocking, considering Romney once was the left-leaning governor of Massachussetts. I believe Mitt Romney has simply evolved.

3. The forty seven percent remarks. It's so hard to tell what Romney really believes from h is public statements, that the hour-long tape behind closed doors in a confidential conversation with big money donors obviously seems incredibly damning. I really do know what conservatives felt like in 2008 now, when Obama's "clinging to guns and religion" remark emerged behind closed doors. It felt like your worst fears of a candidate being vindicated on every level.

It's not remotely possible he was inarticulate, as he's since argued -- that excuse would work if just a sentence or two was being snipped out of a tape, but in this case it was a several-minute diatribe. It's more feasible that Romney was just full of shit and telling his fatcat donors what they wanted to hear. Wouldn't be the first time a politician did that.

But his construction of the argument sounded exactly like the author of the Ryan plan would sound. That these public programs were not worthy of the vast majority of the people receiving them. That the less fortunate are dead weight that we have to tolerate. That they don't care about shit other than getting more money from richer people. That they aren't thoughtful, and that they all reflexively back the bigger hander-outter. This is a disdain for the poor, or at least a total lack of consideration for the less fortunate, that has fueled so many Romney gaffes and show why he no longer cares about the successes he fueled for the poor a decade ago.

I've come around on Romney, personally, over the past few weeks. Moderate Mitt works for me, if it were the pitch I'd received all along, though my vote would probably still be with Obama. He doesn't seem like a corporate tool anymore to my eyes -- he seems incredibly engaging, very intelligent and nuanced in his thinking, and I've even seen some charm eke out of him the past few weeks. His performances in all three debates were strong, showing he's dead serious about the tasks at hand. (And I do actually love that he's a Mormon, but that's more of a reflection of my satisfaction that America is thisclose to being comfortable enough with one to make him President.)

But that's Dr. Henry Jekyll. The guy I'm genuinely concerned about, the guy I am vehemently opposed to even getting a glance at the Oval Office, is Mr. Edward Hyde, a.k.a. Regressive Mitt.
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