One of the biggest frustrations many independent voters have with Mitt Romney is that they have no idea what he really believes.At many times during the two-year campaign, Romney appears to have said whatever he thinks the audience of the moment wants to hear.
For example, he has repudiated one of his biggest success stories as the Governor of Massachusetts–the universal health coverage known as Romneycare–because soe Americans hate Obamacare (at least in theory).
He has told a roomful of super-rich donors that half of Americans are irresponsible deadbeats who think they are victims.
He has promised to keep taxes where they are, and then he has promised to cut taxes (and, most recently, he has told Americans not to expect a tax cut).
He has promised to “close tax loopholes,” but refuses to say which ones, because he knows every loophole has fans.
He has promised to cut spending, but won’t say what spending, because he knows that every spending program has fans.
He has suggested that he thinks abortion be illegal in most cases, even after supporting choice as Governor.
And now he seems to be supporting Romneycare again.
And so on.
Romney’s theory, apparently, has been that the economy is so bad that Americans will just vote for “Not Obama.” Based on the recent polls, however, that doesn’t appear to be the case. Americans are frustrated with the state of the economy, but they now know what Obama stands for and wants to do. And, so far, they prefer that to what Romney wants to do, which is… well, no one really knows.
It’s possible that Romney is just a super-rich salesguy who really doesn’t believe in anything and doesn’t have a plan.
But this seems unlikely.
More likely, Romney has strong beliefs and a very detailed plan…but is worried that if he ever opens up about this plan, he’ll lose votes and, with them, the election.
As recently as six months ago, Romney’s caution and logic was probably wise.
If the economy had plunged back into a full-blown recession this year, Americans might will have voted for “Not Obama,” regardless of how little Not Obama had shared about what he really believed.
But now, barring a Romney Miracle between now and early November (a collapse in Europe, a collapse in the stock market, an Israel attack on Iran that is badly mishandled by the White House, a huge spike in unemployment claims), Romney and his caution are heading for a big loss.
So it’s time to throw caution to the winds. Because Romney has nothing left to lose.
A lot of independent voters, centrist Democrats, and reasonable Republicans have been secretly hoping that Mitt Romney is still the same man he was when he was running Massachusetts–namely, a reasonable, centrist, pro-choice, “compassionate conservative” who didn’t go around forcing everyone else to adopt his personal moral and religious views. If Romney is, in fact, that man, those voters could shift this election.
Yes, if Romney came out and admitted that he’s proud of Romneycare, that he doesn’t want to make abortion illegal, that he doesn’t think the highest-earning Americans need yet another tax cut, and so forth, the Republican “base” might throw up in disgust.
But with the primaries complete and the nomination secured, it’s not as if these folks have anyone else to vote for.
(What are they going to do–protest the more reasonable Romney by voting for Obama?)
Yes, these voters might just stay home on Election Day, handing the election to Obama regardless of some additional support from centrists.
But, in that case, at least Romney would have gone down swinging.
And, more importantly, he would have gone down with integrity–after telling America who he really is and what he really believes.
In the wake of yet another humiliating gaffe a couple of days ago–an attempt to excite a crowd at an airport by trying and failing to start a “Romney-Ryan” cheer–one commentator theorized that the reason Romney seems so inauthentic and awkward much of the time is because he is actually being inauthentic.
In other words, Romney is still playing not to lose.
That strategy isn’t working.
So maybe it’s time to play to win–by throwing caution to the wind and telling the country who he really is and what he really believes.
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