The Iowa Straw Poll last weekend is to election season what Labor Day is to Fall; it’s official now – the season has begun!
I don’t care about the “viability” of candidates. I am not a prognosticator. Well, if I were, I’d be a very bad one. I said former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty was most likely to get the nomination because his name is the easiest to make puns with (i.e. Pawlenty of Votes!) and he was the first one to drop out of the race. Plus, I’ve yet to see anyone (besides me) make ANY puns with his name. Pawlenty of wrong guesses!
But I’m also not interested in “who could go all the way.” I’m interested in this moment in time. And if you look at the former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney – he’s perfect for the current Republican Party.
The first reason is he has five gorgeous able-bodied adult sons who’ve never spent a day in the military. Actually, none of the as-yet announced Republican candidates have children serving in the military. We’ve been in two wars now for nearly a decade each and yet the all-volunteer force is entirely made up of Americans not spawned from GOP candidates. For the last 30 years at least, the Republicans have been relentlessly, uniformly hawkish – but mostly with other peoples’ children. This disconnect was made evident in the ’08 election when soldiers donated money to candidate Barack Obama 6-1 over Senator John McCain.
The second is Romney’s hard turn (read: total flip-flop) on women’s reproductive freedoms. When Romney ran against Senator Ted Kennedy in 1994, unprompted he offered, “Many, many years ago, I had a dear, close family relative that was very close to me who passed away from an illegal abortion. It is since that time that my mother and my family have been committed to the belief that we can believe as we want, but we will not force our beliefs on others on that matter. And you will not see me wavering on that.” Of course, he wavered on that. His “family relative” was Ann Keenan, who died from an infection due to her illegal abortion in 1963 when Romney was 16. Now at 64, Romney toes the party line on abortion: He’s against it. He’s now against the law that could have saved his relative’s life.
But this is consistent with the Republican Party of today. The man known as “Mr. Conservative” himself – 1964’s Republican candidate, Barry Goldwater was not pro-life. His wife Margaret Goldwater helped found the first Planned Parenthood in Arizona in the 1930s. If ever there was an issue (or an area) for government to get out of – it’s a uterus. But as much as current Republicans like to bark that government is getting too intrusive – Romney and his ilk want the government to tell women what to do.
Speaking of the government telling us what to do – the health care reform “individual mandate” that Republicans are so rabidly against? That was a Republican idea (first introduced in 1993) Romney implemented in his state in 2005. Now? It’s a job-killing communist plot that will destroy America! Romney and his parallel Republicans were for this job-killing communist plot that will destroy America - before they were against it.
The third thing that makes Romney the ideal representation for his party is his time in the private sector. Yes, Romney calls himself (un-ironically) a job creator. And well, he did create jobs, but mainly in other countries. He cut thousands here at home. But he touts this accomplishment anyway. The GOP has become an anti-worker movement. They use the language of the common man, railing against “the elites.” But when it comes to policy – the GOP worships the privileged. They love the gilded class and don’t want them to have to pay taxes or hear a cross word about themselves. They’ve convinced non-elites that the top one percent are all-American magical job makers and that if we just make this tiny fraction of our country happy – our economy will once again flourish. There’s no evidence of this ever being the case. It’s pure fantasy. But Republicans treat lies like incantations – they just have to say something enough and it will manifest.
So regardless of whoever gets in the race or drops out – Romney is the ideal symbol of his party. He is the GOP. His story is the story of the Republican Party.