Mitt Romney is obviously a great man and an impressive American. He has succeeded in the private sector and, depending on who you ask, in the Massachusetts governor’s office. But he will lose this election.
The reason? Romney seems to have no political core — just a handful of tactics.
Earlier this month, Mother Jones leaked a video of Romney at an intimate, $50,000 per plate fundraiser. At the fundraiser, Romney candidly said that 47 percent of people are voting for Obama because they are dependent upon the government.
The Democratic message machine has put a spin on this comment by suggesting that Romney stands only for people who vote for him. Obama, by contrast, is everyone’s president.
I took the message differently. Mitt Romney doesn’t just stand for the people who vote for him, he stands wherever the wind blows. He has become the epitome of a political weathervane and says whatever he thinks will please the faces in front of him.
Republicans argue that Romney has a strong core on economic policy. It seems that he truly believes reducing taxes and government expenditure will lift American markets and engage capital that is currently sitting on the sidelines.
But, at times, he waivers from this economic core. During a Republican primary debate, Romney promised to reject a theoretical proposal of $10 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax increases.
This doesn’t sound like the moderate governor of Massachusetts who addressed his state’s $2.1 billion deficit through a 50/50 blend of spending cuts and revenue increases.
Although Romney’s presidential campaign raises questions about his management skills, he possesses certain tangible skills for the presidency. However, he still misses the essential intangible that has colored the presidential canvas from Teddy Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan and Obama: thought leadership.
Good presidents are “thought leaders” who don’t just react to public opinion on important issues. Instead, they shape the agenda.
Many argue that the thought leader no longer exists in American politics and that all politicians are political weathervanes. What about Ron Paul? Throughout his campaigns, he has refused to trade his fiscal stances in for electoral viability.
Take Obama. This summer, the president resisted the temptation to stay silent and came out in favor of marriage equality. Pundits warned that it would turn off black voters. Instead, he moved numbers on the issue — now the majority of blacks support gay marriage.
All politicians, even Paul and Obama, occasionally preach to the choir when they stand in front of it, but only to a certain degree. There is always a line. Running an entire presidential campaign on insincerity, inconsistency and flexible stances crosses it.
Our founding fathers envisioned a democratic republic. American government would be a system that engages the people, but doesn’t react to every one of their whims. Ideally, enlightened statesmen or at least proper guardians of the public weal would be at the helm.
Would an enlightened statesman or a proper guardian of the public weal really reshape his values to reflect the electorate in an effort to earn the presidency? I don’t think so.
As Romney runs a campaign based on knee-jerk reactions and catering to wealthy donors, I don’t buy that he can lead this country from a bully pulpit — he belongs in a corner office.
Romney stands at the heels of political consultants who explain that by adjusting his message and position he will play better in the battleground states. Romney stands as the face of a party that values the political scoreboard over genuine progress.
When Mitt stands in front of rich donors, a rally of supporters, a graduating class of evangelicals or an audience from a pro-Israel group — he really stands for whatever they stand for.
At the end of the day, Romney stands wherever the wind blows. Romney will lose this election — potentially by a lot. It won’t be because of his comments on the 47 percent. It won’t be because of his time running Bain Capital or because of the trite trickle-down economics he proposes. It won’t even be because Obama beat him.
Come November, Romney will lose because a man who tries to stand for everything stands for nothing.
Adam Silver is a College junior and masters of public administration candidate from Scottsdale, Ariz. “The Silver Lining” appears every Wednesday. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow him @adamtsilver.
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