Whom To Support?
With the end of Fred Thompson’s Presidential campaign, conservatives are undecided as to whom to support. Thompson was the only candidate with the whole conservative package; the rest of the group were weak on one issue or another. Conservatives must now make a choice as to which candidate to give their support to.
It hardly needs saying that none of the other candidates fits the bill. John McCain’s positions on amnesty for illegal aliens, the Bush tax cuts, and McCain-Feingold rule him out. Mike Huckabee is a big government Republican, and his odd foreign policy ideas make him unsuitable anyway. Rudy Giuliani isn’t really viable anymore, and it is not as if he was a conservative anyway.
Mitt Romney seems poised to get at least some of Fred Thompson’s former voters. He claims to be a conservative, and unlike Thompson, actually has a well-organized campaign. However, many conservatives do not altogether trust him. They are right not to trust him—however; it may be for the wrong reasons.
Many conservatives do not believe that Romney’s conversion on the issue of abortion is sincere, and not motivated solely for political gain. It is possible that they are right. There is no evidence that they are.
We cannot know what is inside Romney’s mind and heart. The conversion-for-the-sake-of-political-expediency theory may be either correct or mistaken, but it is pure speculation, without any weight of evidence. It is unfair to Romney to assume the worst without any evidence.
Anyhow, Romney is not the first Republican to convert to the pro-life cause. Ronald Reagan signed into law a bill basically allowing abortion on demand as governor of California. This is far worse than Mitt Romney has ever done, and it is to Romney’s credit that he stood firm against stem cell research as governor of Massachusetts.
Romney should not be faulted for his record on life. However, conservatives are right not to trust him. He is an extremely intelligent man. When he says that he could change Washington, he is probably right. The only problem is that he would probably effect change by growing the role of the federal government.
That course of action is ingrained in him through his work in the private sector. When the management consulting firm Bain & Company faced collapse and ruin, they called on Romney to turn things around. He did. (Ironically, contrary to Mike Huckabee’s jibes about all the workers Romney laid off, Romney did not lay off any workers as he turned the company around).
When the Salt Lake City Olympics needed a strong, smart leader, they turned to Romney. Before Romney, the only question was how much money the Olympics would lose; after Romney, the Olympics made a profit.
These accomplishments are impressive. However, Romney’s previous experiences have in effecting change have had him in nearly complete control. This style of leadership may not be altogether compatible with the demands of Presidency.
The Constitution does not provide for an overpowerful executive office. It is clear that the balance of power belongs in the hands of the states. Would Romney’s business experience cause him to centralize power in the federal government at the expense of state’s rights?
Probably. His record in Massachusetts seems to bear that out. He is proud of his healthcare reform plan, which provides universal health care to Massachusetts residents. And his plan does work fairly well. It provides universal health care without raising taxes or creating employer mandates. Romney’s plan probably works at least as well as any plan for universal health care could. Romney is proud of his accomplishment, and I suppose he has the right to be. It is an impressive accomplishment.
But it is not the government’s role to provide health care. Romney’s plan may work—but it still oversteps the ideal reach of government. Mandating health insurance for everybody (under pain of a fine up to $2000) is not a proper role of government.
Romney’s hands-on approach is evident also in his support for the No Child Left Behind Act. No Child Left Behind didn’t work—but more importantly, it represented another big government power grab. Romney supports this bill. This tends to confirm the impression of Romney as a big government Republican.
So conservatives are left with John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Mike Huckabee. (Rudy Giuliani’s chances are so slim that he is not worth considering). Who to vote for?
It seems that conservatives can only vote their top issue. If your top priority is the survival (in some form) of the Reagan coalition, then I suppose Romney is your man. If an end to abortion is number one, then Huckabee seems the best choice. If the War in Iraq (as opposed to the larger War on Terror) is your top priority, then go McCain. If you want to waste your vote on crazy isolationist, you have Ron Paul.
I will probably cast my vote for Mitt Romney—he has his flaws, but is better than any other candidate in the race. But I will not be happy about it.