Mitt Romney is largely considered the most “conservative” candidate in the Republican race (except for Fred Thompson, maybe, but that won’t be for long). Romney is to be commended for his work in corporate America over the years and most recently as governor of Massachusetts. The fact that he was even elected as governor in Massachusetts as a Republican is akin to selling a ketchup popsicle to a woman in white gloves. But not only did he get elected, he was able to enact quite a bit of change in a overwhelmingly liberal state.
First, let’s cover the good. Romney’s stance on illegal immigration is unquestioned. He does not believe in amnesty, ala John McCain and the McCain-Kennedy bill, and believes that we should increase legal immigration and require that anyone here illegally return home and get in the back of the line. I think it’s safe to say that Romney has heard the American people on this issue and has “chosen wisely”.
Romney is also widely viewed as the candidate of the economy. The fact that the economy has become the single most important issue to voters helps Romney’s chances dramatically. Romney has a long history of working in corporate America and making money (his personal finance success is a common topic of remark in regard to campaign finances), experience in turning around Massachusett’s budget deficit and turning around the struggling 2002 Olympic games. Romney is sound on issues of fiscal responsibility and probably has the most complete view of the global economy of any of the candidates. During his tenure as the governor of Massachusetts, Romney successfully decreased spending and erased a $1.2 billion deficit without raising income taxes (he did raise certain fees as well as the gas consumption tax). Suffice to say, Romney seems very capable to handle the looming economic crises of Social Security, Medicare, the falling dollar, and the budget deficit.
Romney has struck a cord with social conservatives as well with his support of the Marriage Protection Act, support of the overturn of Roe v. Wade, the death penalty and the war in Iraq. While his position on these issues has come under criticism because his positions have evolved over the years (some would say because his positions were based on what it took to get elected), what can be said is that in each case, Romney never proposed legislation that would go against any of these positions, despite things he may have said in the past. Romney says he had an epiphany regarding abortion and that while he once was a pro-choice supporter, he is now fervently pro-life, and admits he was wrong. I can at least respect a man who can admit to being wrong, even if the reason he changed his position is up for debate.
Ok, enough of the good already, there is plenty for a constitutionalist to be afraid of when it comes to Romney. Let’s start with the 2nd Amendment. He was a strong supporter of the Brady Bill, waiting periods for hand gun sales and the assault weapons ban. I don’t see how any of those positions is in agreement with the 2nd Amendment and I suggest that anyone in favor of gun controls does not understand the contrast between freedom and government. The 2nd Amendment was not just to allow citizens to protect themselves from other citizens, as is their right, but more so to protect them from the government. It has been said that “people should not fear their government; government should fear its people”. The 2nd Amendment protected the people from the government confiscating their weapons and then using force to oppress them. Better said, it was to give the people recourse for such a situation where the government overstepped its bounds and assumed power not granted to it. It was designed to prevent these United States from becoming a replica of England. Any restriction on gun rights is unconstitutional.
Another issue that I struggle with Romney is on the issue of hate-crimes. While this may seem like a subtle issue, I believe it shows a misunderstanding of perspective. Romney supported hate crimes legislation in 2002, possibly to counter-balance his stance against same-sex marriage in a region where it is widely accepted. The problem with hate crimes legislation is that it adds weight to intent. The problem is that a murder or assault is no longer the heinous part of the crime, now the motive behind the crime is more important. If a person kills another human being because he’s gay and another person kills someone for their shoes, how can you say that the murder of one is more heinous than the other based on the beliefs of the perpetrator? Does that make either one less dead? Hate crimes legislation is designed for one purpose only, to pander to minorities because of past injustices in the name of “equality”.
The last reason I can’t vote for Romney for the Republican nomination is because I just don’t believe him. Romney seems to be an opportunist without any convictions to stand on. His positions seem to be fluid and his responses scripted to score points with whatever constituency is present. Michigan is one example where he promised subsidies to the auto manufacturers to score points in Detroit. It’s nothing I can really put my finger on, it’s just a feeling that I’m being played and it makes me uncomfortable. I’ve nicknamed him the “incredible plastic man”. I just don’t believe he’s genuine. He may very well be, but… the price of being wrong is steep.
Next up, I’m going to take a break from the Republicans to focus on the Democrats. I’ll come back and finish up with the Republicans, but I just need to get something off my chest. Coming soon…