I have solidly landed in the camp where I believe that Mitt Romney will become the Republican Presidential Nominee in 2012. I've already expressed my reservations about his candidacy, primarily my concern over whether or not he can sway independents with his history of socialized medicine & tax increases which so closely mirrors the president's.
But, alas, Rick Perry didn't get it together in time so now I have to look to the future and stop being bitter about the past. I'm not someone that believes in capitulation or tossing in the towel before the battle is lost just because it looks like we're going to lose. But I no longer believe it simply looks like Romney will be the candidate, I believe that he essentially already is.
In 2008 I was tasked with becoming o.k. with a John McCain nominee. What I resigned myself to was that a Republican President vs. a Democrat Congress (which was pretty much agreed we would have after the election) would create a stalemate on a lot of issues, something that I might've thoroughly enjoyed.
But, and I say this with all sincerity, it's much easier to become o.k. with Mitt Romney than it was with John McCain, and my reasons are probably not going to be that popular in his campaign.
A look back at Romney's past easily creates one particular image: liberal. He was governor of the liberal bastion of Massachusetts; he rose fees (known in most parts as taxes) on the people of his state; he instituted a form of socialized medicine with a state mandate that required citizens to buy health insurance or face penalties; he had close advisors that drove his policy decisions who have been instrumental in the Obama administration and are basically doling out the same advice. Without any other consideration, he seems pretty far left.
But there's another quality of Mitt Romney's that gets a lot of attention. Mitt Romney is the quintessential flip-flopper.
Yesterday I was in a discussion with fellow RedState contributor Neil Stevens and he pointed out something I believe to be absolutely accurate. Mitt Romney is either a blowing in the wind, flip flopping opportunist; or he's a committed ideologue. The idea that he is both is silly and borders on mutually exclusive.
A look at the video above or any number of other videos on the internet reveals the same thing: Romney does what gets him popular and earns him votes.
There was another man that was known for this. His name was Bill Clinton. The left and even pop-culture has painted this view of President Clinton for years. He's known as an expert politician capable of making all sides believe he agrees with them. Yes, he's also known as a liar, a cheat, and a hot tempered misogynist, but in terms of his executive presence he's remembered for being the kind of guy that would poll to find out what colored tie he should wear.
After spending the first couple of years pandering to his lefty base, he quickly discovered via the Republican House takeover of '94 that he was better served going the other direction. Sure, he'd still put up some fights to appease his rabid base of liberals, and would always pretend like he was strong-armed into signing bills that were good for America, but the fact is that on this opportunist's watch we instituted real welfare reform, a cut in the capital gains tax which increased revenue to the treasury, and the last balanced budget we've seen from government.
Were there tricks to achieve the "balanced budget?" Sure. Did he still push through plenty of things that we hate and miss important foreign policy indicators that might've prevented 9-11? Absolutely. But as a Democrat president, we couldn't ask for a better example of what can happen when someone is beholden to popular will.
Of course the difference is Clinton was always held ultimately to a different base of voters since he was a Democrat. This isn't the case with Romney and can be a distinct advantage in the quest to be o.k. with voting for him.
Mitt Romney pandered to Massachusetts voters when he was in Massachusetts. Mitt Romney pandered to the conservative base during the 2008 & 2012 primaries. Mitt Romney will pander to the center as a general election candidate.
The question is, who will he pander to as president? Well, that's up to us. If we spend all of our time hating him, writing in other candidates names, and ultimately letting the "establishment" get him elected, he will not be as concerned about pandering to us going forward assuming he could even win without our support.
If instead, we pushed hard to get him elected, unseated Barack Obama and pushed in a Republican senate while keeping the House...well, let's just say that based on his history, he's going to do whatever he has to to make sure that come 2016 we're going to think that he's the second coming of Reagan.
Of course, this won't be a cake walk. George W. Bush is a great example. In his first term I thought he was fantastic. He lowered taxes, decreased some regulations (while increasing others of course), took on the entire middle east and defied the most vitriolic Democrat party that had ever been encountered up to that point.
However, starting in his second term, he got comfortable. He didn't have a reelection to reconsider, and the result was mismanagement of some of the war efforts, pandering to Democrats by allowing them to take down Alberto Gonzales, and most egregiously, TARP and the auto bail-outs. The circumstances which allowed all of this to take place are varied but it boils down to one thing: we didn't hold him and the congress to account with enough ferocity and vigor.
Mitt Romney is going to be our nominee, of that I believe we can be certain. The only question now is, do we want a President that might do the right thing most of the time to pander to us? Or do we want a President that won't pander to us at all?
Barack Obama is an ideologue. Mitt Romney is not. I'd vastly prefer to have a conservative ideologue in the White House but that's just not in the cards. But if I have to choose between a political opportunist who has shown a desire to pander to my beliefs regardless of his own lack of views, vs a committed marxist ideological radical...I think the choice will be clear.
To put it another way, I'd rather have an etch-a-sketch with the probability that I can influence the drawings as opposed to a published book that I disagree with but am incapable of editing.
Our battle is for the Office of the President of the United States. Our war is for a return to founding principles and the success of conservatism. Circumstances have forced us to approach this battle differently. Yes, I would've preferred this battle to be fought alongside a principled conservative leader. But not having that is not enough for me to stop fighting. The battle must be won either way and if this is the army I have then this is the army I have. The key is to remember why we're fighting and how we're going to win the ultimate war, not to lose hope and give up because one battle hasn't gone how we wanted. A real warrior figures out how to win anyway. I refuse to be a soldier that sacrifices the war because I don't like my general. This is not our last battle and the war is far from over.
I think Ben Shapiro summed it up nicely in the video below where he is calling for the Tea Party to graduate to Minutemen.
In addition to all of Ben's other excellent points, he references a quote from Milton Friedman, "It's nice to elect the right people but that isn't the way you solve things. The way you solve things is by making it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing."
Mitt Romney is the wrong guy. But it's up to us to make sure that this wrong guy does the right thing.