I’m writing this post a little hastily, so forgive the brevity and/or incompleteness of my thoughts. I had thought that I would be writing this a little closer to election time, but someone has already expressed an interest in what I think given Romney’s recent choice of VP candidate. So perhaps now is a good time to just get it out of the way.
Simply put, I’m not planning to vote for Mitt Romney this year. But not for some of the reasons other people aren’t voting for him. Actually, looking at some other people’s complaints has sometimes almost tempted me to give him my vote. Apparently he’s “too white,” “too nice,” “too rich,” too other stuff that shouldn’t make an iota of difference. Oh, and he’s Mormon. Now there are actually some Christians who seriously have chosen to withhold their vote based on that fact alone. I’m not one of those Christians.
So just why am I not voting for the guy? Well first, let me quote myself from a few months ago, explaining why I wasn’t voting for him in the primary:
I don’t think he’s deeply committed to the social issues. One clue of this is his outright endorsement of the three exceptions to abortion. There’s an important distinction between voting for an anti-abortion bill which happens to contain the exceptions if that’s the best that can be done at the moment… and refusing to vote for such a bill unless it contains those exceptions. Which Romney has done. Granted, he is following in an unfortunate Republican tradition, but Republicans have been known to change their mind on these issues (Rick Perry being a notable recent case). I suggest we withhold our vote from any Republican who has not yet seen the light on this issue until they get the memo that we care about it. And honestly, Romney isn’t in this game as a culture warrior.
So there’s one important issue. But actually, I dislike Romney even more now than I did then. I discovered that he’s really not too solid on the gay rights issue either. In particular, if you look at the statements he’s made about adoption, on the one hand he’s said that “every child in America deserves a mom and a dad,” but on the other he’s said that gays do have a right do adopt, and he wouldn’t push to change it in his state. He’s also said that he “hope[s] to represent every race, creed, and sexual orientation.” And in particular, he just recently joined Obama in saying that he thinks Boy Scouts should allow gay leaders.
All of this leads me to conclude that he doesn’t consider it a priority to appeal to the conservatives where social issues are concerned, despite the fact that he’s sometimes been known to make conservative noises. He’s willing to adjust what he says to match the occasion and context. In other words, he’s a politician’s politician.That’s not a candidate I can get behind.
As for the economic issues, Romney doesn’t really do his own economic thinking. He’s a businessman. He calls in the guys who are supposed to know what they’re doing and consults them. And invariably, they give him bad advice. That’s why his Massachusetts health care plan ended up looking suspiciously like Obamacare.
But what about Paul Ryan for VP? He’s a strong social conservative with good economic sense. Oh yeah, and he’s photogenic. Doesn’t that change anything? Only if they decided to reverse the ticket.
Look, we’ve seen this before: Sub-par, uninspiring Republican presidential candidate picks much more conservative and charismatic running mate in an effort to rope in “the base.” Granted, McCain was much more repulsive, creepy, and generally lacking in good qualities than Romney (one wonders if the people flocking to vote for him in ’08 forgot that he was the bugbear the Republicans used to scare us into voting for Bush eight years before). But still, it’s the same pattern. Make no mistake, Paul Ryan is being used, just like McCain used Palin. If I had been Ryan, I would have politely said “Thanks, but no thanks. My values are firm, and I’m not even sure what you believe.”
And I do think that Palin was somewhat corrupted by her run, even to the point of assuring James Dobson that McCain was “solid” on all key social issues even though he had consistently advocated embryonic stem cell research. She would have been better off continuing to hunt moose and govern Alaska. As it was, she got roped into a nightmare and was never really allowed to be herself. She just became another pawn in the campaign. I fear that something similar may happen to Ryan. [Update: It’s happening already. I told you so.]
In the meantime, I don’t believe in settling for less when it comes to what the Republicans have to offer us. The party has let us down repeatedly, and we need to stop confirming their belief that they can always count on the conservative vote because the Democrats will always be worse. How far is the conservative base going to walk down that road before finally saying “Enough?” We’ve already seen them dancing in the streets over the election of an openly pro-choice Republican congressman (Scott Brown). And they seemed quite prepared to vote for a pro-choice presidential candidate in 2000 (Rudy Giuliani). Where will it end?
So there you have, in a nutshell, why I’m not voting for Mitt Romney this year. And despite the fact that I fully expect many conservatives to turn out in force for him, spurred on by the horrific specter of yet another four years of Obama, I have a feeling I may not be alone.