Resigning Yourself to Romney: A Guide for the Disgruntled
Don't allow "the best and the purest" in politics to become the enemy of "the good enough."
January 17, 2012 - 12:00 am
Dear Belladonna Rogers,
I’ve read comments on PJM and heard my fellow conservatives here in South Carolina say they see no difference between Obama and Romney. Others claim they’d rather have four more years of Obama than “give” the presidency to a candidate whose conservative bona fides are as weak as Romney’s. I’m outraged when I hear Republicans say they’d rather have Obama than Romney. Do you have any suggestions of how to deal with what I consider to be this excessively purist approach?
Harried on Hilton Head Island
You could start by observing that their position is a perfect example of the best being the enemy of the good. No, Romney is not “the best.” Who is the best? That’s for each voter to say, but in election years we usually have a choice of two candidates. Sure, voters can stay home or write in the name of their favorite movie star or politician, but that’s a waste of the great privilege of voting for the president of the United States of America.
I expressed my own tepid response to him in “If Romney needed a transfusion, his blood type would be H2O.” Romney is, however, who we have.
I understand that many PJM readers who prefer other candidates will be offended at the very idea of a January column based on the premise that Romney is the likely candidate. Perhaps your prayers will be answered and he won’t be the Republican standard bearer. However, as of now, Romney is, in the words of our high school yearbooks, “the most likely to succeed.” For that reason, this column is based on that premise.
There are four reasons for a conservative to be content with — if not wildly enthusiastic about –Romney:
(1) The presidency is not all-important. Its significance is understandably overstated during presidential campaigns. The president does not, as is sometimes erroneously stated, “run the country.” He or she presides over the executive branch of the federal government and doesn’t “rule” anything. One reason American citizens may think of the president as an absolute monarch is that the incumbent is behaving like one, as Michael Barone so perceptively wrote yesterday in “Obama Thumbs His Nose At the Founders With One Man Rule.”
According to the plan of the Founders, with which Obama blatantly disagrees, power is divided among the three branches of our government, and through federalism among federal, state, and local authorities. No one person, agency, branch, or governmental level is all-powerful. Most importantly, we have constitutionally-limited government. The personal whims, quirks, and preferences of dictators matter much more than those of whoever is the American president. This is one of our country’s great strengths.
The president does set a tone, however, and the more one is attuned to what the presidential tone conveys, the more one is offended by the one set by the incumbent. He, his wife, and his administration are perhaps the most tone-deaf in American history, as I’ve noted here, here, here, and here, and will continue to note until he’s left office or changes his tone.