There are good reasons for doing things, and there are bad reasons for doing things.
For example: a good reason to hit the town for a night of drinking would be, it’s a weekend and you feel like loosening up and letting off steam after a long week of work. A bad reason to hit the town for a night of drinking would be, because it’s the middle of the week and you want to get yourself ready for a big presentation at the office the next day.
We can apply this to the presidential election too. A good reason to vote for Mitt Romney would be that you agree with his party’s philosophy and like the agenda that Republicans have been pushing in the Obama-era. A bad reason to vote for Mitt Romney would be, because you think the Republican Party has become too extreme and needs to move to the middle.
This should be self-evident, but apparently it’s not. In the past few weeks, I've heard a number of people who are in the middle-of-the-road politically say they've decided to support Romney – not because they like today’s Republican Party, but because they think he’s different from it.
The one that’s on my mind this week is the Des Moines Register’s endorsement of Romney. It made national news – Iowa’s a key state and the Register doesn't usually back Republicans. The paper’s rationale? Because he worked with Democrats when he was governor of Massachusetts and, therefore, will do the same as president.
That’s the wrong way to think about a Romney presidency. If you want to know how he’d govern, all you need to know is which party he represents today. That would be the Republicans. And what are the priorities of nearly all of the leaders, activists, interest groups and elected officials who make up the national Republican Party? Tax breaks for the super-wealthy, rolling back environmental regulations and what scant Wall Street regulation we now have, enactment of the Paul Ryan budget, a steep reduction in aid to the poor, the transformation of Medicare into a quasi-voucher program, packing the federal courts with deeply conservative judges, and creating a Supreme Court majority to overturn Roe vs. Wade. Those are the highlights.
And how do we know Romney would pursue this agenda? It’s simple: The Republican Party will revolt if he doesn't.
I know – we don’t really know what Romney’s core beliefs are – or if he has any at all. He’s been all over the map ideologically. It’s possible he’s secretly the moderate he sold himself as in Massachusetts and it’s possible he’s the severe conservative he assured Republicans he is this year. But this hardly matters, because Romney has been very consistent throughout his political career in one important way: his positions and actions have always – always – been driven by political expediency. I defy you to point to one major issue at any time in the last 18 years where Romney took a position that was at odds with whatever constituency he was trying to appeal to at that moment. I have racked my brain – I really have – and I can think of none.
This gives us a really good idea of how he’d govern as president. The right views him with enormous suspicion. He got the nomination only by signing off on their entire agenda. And if we’ve learned anything in the Tea Party-era, it’s that the right is ready, willing and able to go to war with any Republican politician it considers a sell-out. Romney knows this too. If he tried to be anything other than a severe conservative, his presidency would be crippled.