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- United States Politics
The Tragedy of Romney
On The Positive Side
This piece was written before the 2012 Presidential Election took place. It was prescient!
Mitt Romney is an intelligent and relatively moral man who grew up in a political family with a strong religious anchor. He had the intelligence to work at making money. He became a multimillionaire by using opportunities in the capitalist system. Most of his money was made by squeezing maximum return from investment, utilising financial leverage, "rationalising", downsizing and exporting American jobs.
Romney did not invent a better mousetrap. He bought mousetrap manufacturing companies cheaply, had the mousetraps made abroad,continued to sell the mousetraps at American prices, and sold off the USA factory sites as industrial estates or for housing. Having squeezed out lots of cash Romney then sold the slimmed down companies at good prices that reflected the true market value of these now profitable companies.
All this is fully within mainstream American capitalism.
Some would criticise Romney for becoming a multimillionaire without apparently creating anything. Many would say that he released value from struggling or failing companies for the benefit of Romney and his fellow investors.
Quite understandably Romney organised his tax affairs to minimise the tax he paid. As an honest practicing Mormon he paid true tithes, from which one can deduce what his real income was.
Romney is a bit of a rarity in American politics. He tries to be a moral man within the constraints of American politics. As a liberal Republican he could be a candidate occupying the centre ground.
In Bad Company
There are considerable numbers of Republicans who are socially and fiscally conservative. They truly believe that Government should simply not be involved in many aspects of life. They do not regard the role of government as to be to hold the ring, but to just butt out. Lower taxes will give people larger disposable incomes, out of which people can provide for themselves. Some of the more extreme would have no state pensions or state health insurance at all. Their concern is simply to reduce taxes, which necessitates reduced state expenditure. No Welfare of any description.
These people often give very signficant sums of money to the political process.
Romney could have staked out ground as a liberal Republican, and he might or might not have won the nomination. These Conservative folk might have withdrawn from the Presidential election, regarding it as a contest between two liberals. They would not have been enthused.
Romney decided that he could not win the Presidential Election without the active support of these people. Romney has said things to please this wing of the Republican Party. His choice of Ryan as Vice President candidate is an example of balancing his ticket to appeal to the "right" of the Republican Party.
Romney is not a rabid right winger, and the right wing are not fooled. The Right could not come up with a decent candidate who could beat Romney, so Romney has the Republican nomination sewn up.
Worst of Both Worlds
As a liberal, Romney could make a really convincing pitch for the middle ground of politics. He could argue that the Health system he set up in Michigan was good value for money, unlike Obamacare. Whether this is true or not does not matter - it is an argument that would convince many people - or enough people - that a Federal Health system is not needed. Romney could argue convincingly that Health is a state rather than a federal issue, and each state should make whatever provision the people of that state wish.
Romney could argue that as a successful capitalist he knows that money is rarely the problem. What is important is how the money that exists is used. He would run the Federal Government in a businesslike manner - slash and burn waste!
He could say that he intends to devolve much activity to the individual states, and that he will reduce Government employee numbers by 8% over two terms. The outsourcing of support, cleaning and janitorial services can reduce the numbers easily enough.
Romney can say that as the USA is pulling out of Afghanistan and Iraq he will reduce Defence expenditure without tears.
For every liberal who votes Romney, that is one vote off Obama and for Romney, worth two of the dedicated rightwingers. As the USA does not work on a popular vote but on an electoral college, it is votes in the swing states that matter, not piling up majorities in Republican states.
The liberal Romney message - which could win him an election, is contradicted by Romney's gifts to the Republican Right. Ryan as VP is seen as a Welfare cutter and a fiscal hawk. So any attempt by Romney to run as a liberal is contradicted by his sops to the Right.
Whatever Romney does to enthuse the Right costs him votes in the swing seats. He could even gain a majority of the votes cast but fail to gain Florida, California and New York. So he loses.
The Right will not say "We lost because our views were too right wing." They will say "Our candidate was not right wing enough!".
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