Hey, Where’s the Party?

As a liberal, it’s fun to mock Mitt Romney and dissect the reasons he can’t manage to find traction in this election. However, as the election season goes on I find that I have more sympathy for Mitt Romney. It’s been pointed out time and time again that this is a man without a Party; this is a man who doesn’t really fit in with his constituency; and this is a man without a political base. So what happened? How did this successful, intelligent, attractive, religiously moral man with a beautiful wife and five handsome sons turn out to be the political equivalent of Typhoid Mary? The more I think about this question the more I realize one thing: It’s not just Mitt Romney who abandoned his Party’s principles; the Republican Party abandoned Mitt Romney.

Consider this. When Mitt Romney’s healthcare legislation passed in the state of Massachusetts, he created a program that was in some people’s eyes, a neo-con’s ultimate fantasy. First of all, Romneycare mandated citizens without healthcare—and those who did not qualify for other programs—to purchase healthcare from private insurance companies. Romney’s program was a huge handout to the private insurance industry, and it ensured the healthcare system remained a privatized, for-profit entity. On top of that, it provided the illusion that real healthcare reform had been achieved. In defense of Romneycare, the number of uninsured Bay Staters significantly dropped under Romney’s plan, but it was a far cry from the more progressive healthcare legislation pushed by Democrats. Under Romneycare the rich got richer, healthcare remained privatized, and the masses were appeased. Romney should have been hailed a Republican superhero. But then something happened that even Romney could not have anticipated…

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). Obama introduced a healthcare plan that was virtually identical to Romney’s. Conservatives could have embraced Obamacare and accepted it for what it was, a big wet kiss from Obama to the conservative movement. But instead, Congressional Republicans did what they promised to do: they obstructed. They cut off their nose to spite their face. This obviously created a dilemma for Romney who had planned to tout his record as governor throughout the campaign. But rather than stand behind his single-greatest achievement, Romney was pressured to hide from it and pretend it never happened. In the Republican primaries earlier this year, the other Republican candidates mocked Romney for his Obamacare doppelganger. Instead of defending his conservative healthcare plan and risk being aligned with Obama, Romney cowered in shame.

You can’t blame Romney for creating a program that would have made Ronald Reagan proud. Romney did right by his Party. The problem here is that the Party abandoned Romney simply because they were not willing to back a candidate who did anything that resembled the actions of Barack Obama—even if those actions advanced a conservative idea.

Let’s not give Romney a free pass though. At any time in this election, he could have taken a hard stance on his principles. He could have defended his healthcare program as a conservative answer to a very real problem in Massachusetts. He pushed a conservative healthcare package through one of the most liberal states in the country, and in the process, made both sides of the aisle happy. That’s no small feat. Similarly, Ronald Reagan was able to work with congressional Democrats in the interest of his conservative agenda. Romney could very well have sold his brand by comparing his approach to Reagan’s, and he could have blasted the other candidates (Bachmann, Perry, Santorum, etc.) as ideologues unwilling or unable to roll up their sleeves and work with the other side, similar to Reagan. Had Romney painted himself a politician who can work with both parties to enact legislation that helps everyday Americans, he would have appealed to independent voters, giving him the best chance of beating Obama in November. And there is nothing Republicans want more. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your perspective), Romney didn’t do that. Instead of standing by his beliefs and proudly defending his record, he kowtowed to the right-wing base and began his four-year charade of flip-flopping on every issue under the sun. He even had John Kerry calling him a flip-flopper at the Democratic National Convention. This has to be the kiss of death.

Come November, conservatives will likely make Mitt Romney their scapegoat. They will talk about the many reasons he failed to connect with voters and the reasons why he was not a true Republican; but the Republican Party has a much bigger problem than Mitt Romney. They’re a party that places such a premium on defeating Democrats that they are willing to sell out their own convictions to do so.

– Nathan


One Response to “Hey, Where’s the Party?”

  1. I have no party affiliation and I 98% approve this message.

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