The presidential debates are over. With less than two weeks until Election Day, Mitt and Barack are making their final appeals to win your vote. For those of you who are from the handful of competitive states — take another look at R-money. He might be the right man for America.
My fellow columnist, College junior and masters of public administration candidate Adam Silver, recently made the case that Mitt will lose the election because he’s a man that stands for nothing. But I’d argue that this is exactly why Romney could make a good president.
By standing for nothing, Romney will get things done.
He will avoid contentious issues unless they need to be addressed immediately. On those critical issues, he’ll genuinely search for a middle ground and bring both sides together without losing face or compromising his beliefs.
But what would that look like in practice in a R-money presidency?
Let’s talk social issues
During the Republican primaries Mitt ostensibly took some “severely conservative” positions. But let’s be serious: Do we really believe that someone who descends from hearty let’s-flee-the-country-so-we-can-keep-being-polygamist stock will actually define marriage as between one man and one woman? I think not.
Either way, support for gay marriage in this country, currently at 48 percent, has been rising about 2 percent annually for the last eight years. So it looks like gay marriage is a winner for 2016. The issue is contentious, but not one that needs the president to weigh in on. Mitt may not champion gay marriage, but he won’t stand in its way.
Binders full of women?
As far as contraception and the health care law is concerned, my views align with University of Chicago professor John Cochrane. Contraceptives should not be fully paid for under insurance any more than toothpaste. I am completely in favor of free government-provided contraceptives (maybe condoms too?) but that’s not insurance.
While we’re on health care, R-money will not dismantle Obamacare. In a masterstroke of doublethink and political maneuvering, he will come full circle, embrace the policy and claim credit for its genesis in Massachusetts. He may allow states to opt out, but unless you live in Texas you’ll probably be covered.
On the court
R-money would pick justices who would vigorously defend our personal liberty. I intensely value individual liberty — it’s the cornerstone of our democracy and differentiates the United States from the rest. To avoid nasty confirmation fights, Romney would probably select justices that value argument over ideology.
Gearing up the economy
R-money was a successful businessman and knows that you can’t run any enterprise (or country) on a shoestring by passing budgets and staving off default month to month. I have no idea what he will pass to tackle our fiscal troubles — I doubt he knows either — but I’m confident that Mitt will pass something after testing the waters on both sides.
Academic research has shown that uncertainty over the regulatory environment and taxes has delayed investment and hiring. This has contributed to an anemic economic recovery following the recent recession. So it doesn’t really matter what Romney passes as long as he passes something.
While self-deportation is a farce, Mitt knows that spending money to actually deport everyone is an even bigger one. Undocumented immigration is a serious problem, but at the same time, Latinos have accounted for half our population growth over the past decade, so he’ll be thinking how to win their votes in 2016. He will relent on the DREAM Act, and probably push through a scaled-back version of McCain-Kennedy.
I’ll concede that Barack has beat Mitt on foreign policy (but it’s mostly kudos to Hillary for that). While R-money has run his mouth a bit, he’ll be more isolationist. While not ideal, it will be a far cry from the interventionist W.
Mitt is no Thomas Jefferson. But I think Candy Crowley got it right when she summarized his response to a question about banning assault weapons in the second presidential debate. “So … if you could get people to agree to it, you’d be for it,” she said.
R-money stands for nothing. That means he won’t search out Pyrrhic victories but he’ll try to find middle ground and actually get something done. That’s just what America needs.
Kurt Mitman is a 6th-year doctoral student from McLean, Va. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @SorryToBeKurt. “Sorry To Be Kurt” appears every other Thursday.
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