Upon receiving the nomination to be the Republican Party’s candidate for the presidency tonight, Mitt Romney gave a speech laying out his vision of the country’s future -- of the problems that ail us today and the solutions that can lay the foundation for a brighter tomorrow.
Unfortunately, that vision came up short. I was looking for a president who could combine the pragmatic conservatism of Eisenhower and George H.W. Bush with the progressive sentiment of Theodore Roosevelt, but that is not what Romney offered. Here are five reasons why Mr. Romney failed to gain my vote.
1. His Budget is Full of Holes: Mitt Romney spent a considerable amount of time discussing how his presidency would focus on job creation – 12 million in particular -- but did not indicate any changes to his current economic proposals and tax plans, those same plans that analysts note are highly flawed and wouldn’t work as hoped. While it’s too much to hope for a whole new proposal during a short nomination speech, one could still hope that he might waffle on the anti-tax and pro-defense planks, signaling that he was moving beyond magical thinking and was actually willing to put the country on a sustainable fiscal path. Unfortunately, he gave no impression that he was willing to do such a thing, dashing my hopes he could actually resolve our budgetary problems.
2. He Listened to the Neocons: Sadly, Mitt Romney’s foreign policy vision hews far too close to the Neoconservative line. As he has stated previously, he wants to expand the Navy, and tonight he argued for a far tougher line against Iran, Russia and Cuba. He stated “The America we all know has been a story of the many becoming one, uniting to preserve liberty…uniting to save the world from unspeakable darkness.” This does not sound like someone who has learned the lessons of the Bush years, who knows to ignore whatever dubious interventionist agenda the Neocons push, despite their being probably the most discredited intellectual movement since Marxism. It is even more frightening that Romney still depends upon this intellectually bankrupt coterie in a time of financial problems and with a military exhausted by two decade long wars. Over a hundred years ago Theodore Roosevelt said that the U.S. ought to “walk softly and carry a big stick,” a rather judicious policy. Mr. Romney has decided to “threaten loudly and carry a worm-rotten branch,” and that does not bode well for the future.
3. He Doesn’t Speak about the Misdeeds of the Financial Sector and the Stagnation of the Middle Class: Mitt Romney made numerous references to the American people and how they have suffered during this recession – families, retirees, small businesses and college graduates. However, he did not address how the misdeeds of the private finance sector brought about this pain, about how the average person gets caught up in forces beyond their control and see their livelihoods stagnate or be destroyed. As someone once accused of “vampire capitalism” and who has sustained innumerable attacks on his record at Bain Capital, Mr. Romney needed to show that he was some stereotypical plutocrat. He needed to present some idea of how he could help workers out of their plight other than by helping out their bosses, because as many workers know, their bosses don’t do much to help them. Yet Mr. Romney failed to do this, he identified with the job creator and not the laborer, and indicated that he really lacked a vision for truly helping the common man, and in this age
4. He Hears but Doesn’t Listen to Women: Romney repeated time and again in his speech that he values women and the role they play in society. He noted the example of various female leaders like Gov. Nikki Haley, Gov. Susana Martinez, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. He even quoted his mother as saying “Why should women have any less say than men, about the great decisions facing our nation?” Yet, the problem the Republicans face today with women have little to do with leadership and a lot to do with reproductive rights. Romney favors giving women power over everything but themselves. His inability to grasp reality, or to flout the social conservative base in acknowledging it, indicates that he lacks the strength of leadership needed to deal with the troubles of today and should not be the White House.
5. He Didn’t Challenge Any Part of the Base: One of the things I like about Mitt Romney is that most evidence points to a personal life (if not public life) of integrity and strong moral character. One can easily see him working hard to do his best for the country and avoiding some of the worst scandals that afflict many administrations. Unfortunately, that confidence does not extend to most elements of the Republican Party. Given how little Mr. Romney has moderated his positions since winning the primary, and how he seemed to cave to the right in choosing Paul Ryan as VP, I had hoped he would exhibit signs of inner steel tonight, a signal that if push came to shove he wouldn’t be blinkered by ideology or unduly constrained by the base. Then he would truly be a president of the country and not just a leader of his party. Unfortunately, that steel seems to be missing.
While there was some strong rhetoric in the speech -- “President Obama promised to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet. MY promise...is to help you and your family” definitely hits the mark – the speech gave far more reasons NOT to support Mr. Romney than to vote for him. His candidacy exhibits all of the weaknesses of his party and fails to move beyond it in coming to grips with our country’s problems. It seems I will need to vote for someone else.