Should Romney Get The Nod, What Then?
On that Tuesday, Mitt Romney should have the prized 1144 committed delegates in hand to avoid the “rebellion” in Tampa at the August convention. Romney desperately seeks to avoid a brokered convention given his lackluster, but highly negative, campaign. Watching him on the campaign trail evokes all of the excitement of watching paint dry but he is what the GOP will probably anoint to become the dragon slayer in November.
Romney’s likely nomination raises several questions each of us might ponder as he and the president prepare to square off in the fall campaign.
In an earlier piece (“The Coming Struggle”), noted columnist E.J. Dionne characterized the coming ideological collision between two warring factions. Dionne said, “The Democrats are defending a tradition that sees government as an essential actor in the nation’s economy, a guarantor of fair rules of competition, a countervailing force against excessive private power, a check on the inequalities that capitalism can produce, and an instrument that can open opportunity for those born without great advantages.”
The GOP, Dionne notes, “Is engaged in a wholesale effort to redefine the government help that Americans take for granted as an effort to create a radically new, statist society.” We would have to view the candidacy of Mitt Romney as the face of this radical approach to governance. Dionne further noted that daylight exists between independents and progressives and the president regarding his commitment to preserving the principles his party cherishes.
It is perhaps fair to say this fall campaign will be one of the more ugly, deadliest, and most costly general campaigns in recent memory. Mitt Romney is the master of “scorched earth” politics. The SuperPACs supporting him will bury us in enough slime to necessitate frequent trips to the shower. Each of Mitt’s fallen competitors for the nomination was a victim of a withering, often unfair, barrage of negative ads. Gingrich and Santorum are but the current and surviving beneficiaries of Mitt’s love. Let’s see how long they remain standing.
Taking E.J. Dionne’s summary of each party’s broad statement of philosophical purpose as a guide, let’s translate them into language we employ without the distraction of the candidates or their campaign ads. At the core of each candidate’s campaign is the role of government in American society. That is what this election is fundamentally about.
Let’s turn to the question, if Romney is the GOP’s nominee, what then?
Between now and November, each of us should ask ourselves several basic questions because we’ve all got a dog in this fight. The stakes are high.
Am I better off now than I was in 2008? If not, WHY NOT? A simple yes or no should not suffice. Analyze your response.
Which candidate offers a plan, a vision that speaks to the hope we have for the future for our families, our community, and this country? Think in terms of the education you wish to afford for your children and the jobs you and they will seek. Think about the time-honored traditions of fairness and equality; that no one is above the law.
Which candidate speaks earnestly to my concerns about the lack of fairness and the growing inequality in America today?
Are the candidate’s plans simple enough that my family and I can set aside the campaign slogans and discuss them across our dinner table?
Do I, or do I not, believe that government, funded by my tax dollars, can be an essential factor in our economy? If so, how?
We know that both political parties contributed to the accumulation of the national debt. Is the problem of the national debt being approached realistically? Will only radical solutions that have a direct impact on the middle class be considered? A relevant example is the Ryan plan. Should the responsibility be shared to reduce the national debt?
Are you willing to accept fewer services and cuts in Social Security and Medicare to pay for more tax cuts for the wealthy?
Which candidate discusses a mechanism to balance the might of the private sector and its allies against the larger public interest?
Which candidate speaks to my values? And, more importantly, are my values in conflict with my needs? (You may be pro-life but you also need Social Security and Medicaid to remain intact. Your long-term unemployed spouse may be reliant upon unemployment insurance.)
Am I deciding the issues that determine how I will vote? Or, am I deferring to the blandishments of a news commentator, a candidate for public office, or a campaign ad?
Keep this process simple and honest. Here is why. Most of us know what we think about the strengths, experience, and values of this president and those who would challenge him. What we do not often do is vote smart. For the past several decades, many have not voted their interests or their needs. The lamentations for failing to do so, mainly by the 99 percent, followed the elections.
We may value peace over war, but is it essential that we support a candidate who supports doubling our defense budget, or increasing tax cuts for the rich, and continuing subsidies for the oil and gas corporations, while concurrently emasculating the budgets for public education across the country?
Is it essential we continue a multi-billion dollar, unwinnable war in a country where we are unwelcome while failing to rebuild our economy at home?
Is it necessary, humane, or appropriate to eliminate support for the needy and the elderly as the preferred method to help reduce the national debt?
Is it important to support a candidate who extolls the virtues of democracy in a country in which it is not a tradition while disingenuously and legally disenfranchising citizens in our democracy?
Am I considering the value of my knowledge of the issues against the vague campaign promises of someone whose record is at odds with his rhetoric?
Can I trust the experience and judgment of someone who cannot relate to the life-defining concerns of 99 percent of the population?
Is the smokescreen surrounding a candidate’s birth and their genealogy more important than their abilities and track record of success against powerful, hostile, and entrenched opposition?
Can I support a candidate whose party wages war against 50 percent of the population, 50 percent of the work force, and against the women in my family who are the better judges of decisions regarding their health care and contraception?
What we the electorate must not lose sight of is the importance of the questions we ask ourselves regarding what is important in this election.
WE VOTE! CAMPAIGN ADS DO NOT!
This is the reflective process the politicians prefer that we avoid.
They would tell us what the problems are, who caused them, and, how, if we elect them, they will fix them. They do not assume responsibility for the chaos in our lives, the uncertainties we face daily, the hopelessness and despair that a family member endures, and the decline in living standard that most Americans have experienced. They are not accountable to us. Only we can change that by voting our interests and not theirs.
Let’s engage ourselves in the process as fully informed citizens this time because we do have a dog in this fight. If the few questions rose here, among others, help guide our vote this fall that is informed choice.
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