Perfect Politician: Mitt Romney or Ron Paul

Happy Super Tuesday! It looks like the scariest portions of the nomination process for Mitt Romney are over. Even if he has a poor night tonight, he will still likely secure more delegates than any other candidate. According to the betting market Intrade, as of the time of publishing this post, Romney has a 90% chance of winning the nomination. So, he certainly seems to be on the road to securing the nomination, though there will likely still be a few bumps along the way.

At first glance, it seems strange that enough people would pull the “Romney” lever for him to win the nomination. Ask people what they like to see in politicians and you will often hear answers that sound something like this: “I like politicians who are principled. There is so much pandering in Washington that it makes me sick. So, I vote for people who have core values and stand by them. I just can’t stand politicians who bend to whatever the latest poll indicates.”

For those who agree with that hypothetical voter, there is a candidate in the race to support. His name is Ron Paul. Paul has held precisely the same beliefs for the past thirty years, and his votes in the US House have consistently reflected those views for the entire period.  For example, he refused to support the war in Iraq because he believes that military force should only be used after Congress declares war. That position was wildly unpopular at the time, particularly in the Republican Party. But he sticks to his principles.

Mitt Romney is the opposite. Take abortion for example. In a 1994 debate in Massachusetts, Romney said, “I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country.…I believe that since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years, that we should sustain and support it, and I sustain and support that law, and the right of a woman to make that choice, and my personal beliefs, like the personal beliefs of other people, should not be brought into a political campaign.”

Romney’s current campaign site states: “Mitt Romney is pro-life.…Mitt believes that life begins at conception and wishes that the laws of our nation reflected that view. But while the nation remains so divided, he believes that the right next step is for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade – a case of blatant judicial activism that took a decision that should be left to the people and placed it in the hands of unelected judges. With Roe overturned, states will be empowered through the democratic process to determine their own abortion laws and not have them dictated by judicial mandate.”

As another example, take Romney’s position on health care. When he was Governor, the people of Massachusetts wanted an individual mandate. So, Romney provided them with one. Now, the people of the United States, particularly Republican primary voters, are skeptical of the individual mandate. So, Romney opposes the one that President Obama signed into law, even though it is nearly identical to the one Romney signed.

So, is the conclusion that everyone should vote for Ron Paul? No. We live in a democracy. Politicians are supposed to reflect the views of their constituents. That is why we make them run for reelection every once in a while: to make sure their views still reflect the views of society.

The conclusion is that voters are delusional. They might admire politicians who stick to their principles, but they don’t vote for them. Voters only support politicians who stick to their principles when the politicians’ principles reflect the voters’.

That is why the Mitt Romneys of the world always defeat the Ron Pauls of the world.

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7 Responses to Perfect Politician: Mitt Romney or Ron Paul

  1. Suldog says:

    Well-written, and mostly correct, although I’d throw in the caveat that a press/media willing to cover both candidates to equal measure would make the dynamic different and possibly change the outcome once in a while. When the electorate is repeatedly told that one candidate is the presumptive nominee and the other has no chance, that tends to be a self-fulfilling prophesy, no?

  2. Suszek says:

    I would agree with that. I think the bigger question is whether the media should treat a candidate (like Romney in this case) as the presumptive nominee. On one hand, it could be argued that such media treatment skews the process in favor of candidates that do well in early-voting states. On the other hand, it could be argued that parties want a candidate to emerge as the presumptive nominee early in the spring. Primary voters, as members of the party in question, may just be taking directions from their leadership. So, arguably, the media is simply reflecting something that is already happening in the party.


  3. villagebear says:

  4. Suldog says:

    Well, personally, I’m not a big fan of the primary process overall. If anything, I prefer the caucuses, as those tend to draw the more hardcore folks with passionate feelings one way or another, willing to spend more than a minute of their day once a year in shaping the country’s future 🙂

    I think it’s an interesting point you raise, though. I suspect which side of the argument appears more valid depends upon what media outlets one decides to include in the mix. Some genuinely try to reflect public sentiment, while others (I would cite The Boston Herald, vis-a-vis Mitt Romney, as a prime example) stake out a favored position or candidate early on, as an editorial policy, and then cheerlead for that candidate come hell or high water.

  5. demark! says:

    Sorry, Andy, but I can’t agree with you here. I don’t think that a principled politician is one that believes the same thing year to year. In fact, I think it’s the opposite. Some wise men have weighed in on this:

    Stephen Colbert satirical roast of President Bush at the 2006 White House Correspondent’s dinner: “The greatest thing about this man is that he’s steady. You know where he stands. He believes the same thing Wednesday that he believed on Monday, no matter what happened on Tuesday.”

    Thomas Paine in “The Rights of Man”: “The circumstances of the world are continually changing, and the opinions of man change also; and as government is for the living, and not for the dead, it is the living only that has any right in it.”

    Mark Twain: “Loyalty to a petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul.”

    Tryon Edwards: “He that never changes his opinions, never corrects his mistakes, and will never be wiser on the morrow than he is today.”

    etc. etc.

    Though I’m not a Romney (nor Paul, or any of these other guys) guy, I do think he fairly explained (even if he did it just for political reasons) how he could both support single payer healthcare in Mass and not across the U.S. based on sovereignty principles.

    Despite the fact that our city here just blew up, I’m actually glad to not be surrounding by the 24/7 of the presidential race right now. It’s enough to make one crazy!

  6. Suszek says:

    I would agree that believing the same thing from year to year does not make a person principled.

    If, in 2005, Mitt Romney believed that the individual mandate was a good idea, signed it into law in Massachusetts and then changed his mind, I would call him a principled man. But that is not what he did. He never admits that his position in 2005 was inconsistent with his position now. He says that he believes that the states are the proper place to experiment with health care reform. That may be true. But ask him whether he thinks that the individual mandate is a good idea. He will say that it was a good idea for Massachusetts but that it is not a good idea for America. Why? If the distinction is based on federalism principles, that does not explain why he would support the individual mandate in theory in 2005 and oppose it now.

    The same thing can be said about abortion. If he changed his mind because he learned something, that would be great. But that is not what happened. Massachusetts is just more liberal than the national Republican party. So, he said that abortion should be legal in 2003 and now says that it should be illegal. If you ask him, he will tell you that he always thought it should be illegal.

    So, I’m not saying that either Romney or Paul is really the perfect politician. Romney, in my opinion, will take any position that will help him get elected. Paul is a principled person who has learned nothing in the past 30 years.

  7. Jake says:

    I agree with you are saying, but I don’t think our representative system is as pure as your desire. For instance, as you know, I am conservative. I actually agree with Ron Paul more than Romney. The issue I have is that Ron Paul can’t win the election. I simply don’t think that he has the ability, or is he presidential enough, to garner the independent vote.

    So now, as a conservative, I must weigh the republican candidate that I think can beat President Obama. At the end of the day, my goal is to elect a president that most closely aligns with my belief systems, while simultaneously providing the best odds at beating the incumbent.

    That is why I voted for Mitt.

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