With Mitt Romney’s victories in Iowa and New Hampshire as well as strong polling both in coming states and nationally, the likelihood of him achieving the Republican nomination has soared. Gaining support across a wide spectrum of voters, Romney has most curiously achieved large backing from proponents of the Tea Party, as evinced by strong showings among Tea Party supporters in Iowa and plurality support from Tea Party proponents in New Hampshire exit polls. Advocates of limited government and the Constitution should seriously reconsider their support for Romney for the following five reasons:
As has been well-established, Mitt Romney implemented healthcare reform in Massachusetts remarkably similar to President Obama’s landmark piece of legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act better known as Obamacare. In his defense, although Romney advocated for every state to implement a reform like his and defended the merits of the policy at a local level, he does not seem to have ever openly advocated for the federal government to implement the unconstitutional policy, although he did come close to advocating his model at the federal level when speaking of alternatives to the public option in 2009. Nevertheless, despite condemning Obama for not calling the former Massachusetts governor when crafting Obamacare so that he could tell Obama not to implement it, Romney’s healthcare policy in Massachusetts did serve as the model for Obamacare, as evinced by the repeated White House visits from the authors of Romney’s healthcare law. Though Obama does not seem to have called Romney directly, the president used Romney’s healthcare plan as a model for Obamacare, making Romney’s healthcare reform one of its primary inspirations.
Treason and Civil Liberties
Although Romney supports the Constitution when it conveniently allows Republicans to overlook his record in Massachusetts, his position on treason and other civil liberties issues show that he does not care about the Constitution. In a Republican debate, Mitt Romney remarked:
“We’ll use the Constitution and criminal law for those people who commit crimes, but those who commit war and attack the United States and pursue treason of various kinds, we will use instead a very different form of law, which is the law afforded to those who are fighting America.”
Despite his apparent familiarity with the Constitution regarding the individual mandate, he disregards that Article III Section III of the Constitution specifically states that “No person shall be convicted of treason unless under testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or in open confession in court.” Continuing to disagree with Romney’s interpretation, the clause excludes the executive branch from determining how to handle treason, stating that “Congress shall have the power to declare the punishment of treason.”
Given that Romney disregards explicit unambiguous parts of the Constitution, it is unsurprising that Romney supports the Patriot Act which legalizes warrantless wiretaps prohibited by the fourth amendment, endorses the indefinite detention of Americans as permitted by the recent National Defense Authorization Act in defiance of due process of law, and defends the assassination of American citizens by the unilateral decree of the President (on the pretense that the American engaged in treason, of course). Regularly opposing civil liberties, Romney only endorses the Constitution when politically convenient.
In one of his most indefensible flip-flops, Romney went from supporting deficit spending as a means of stimulating the economy to opposing it. In January 2009, prior to Obama’s inauguration, Romney stated, “I think there is need for economic stimulus.” In the context, though he supported tax cuts and condemned making the stimulus plan a Christmas tree for special interests, he argued explicitly for spending on infrastructure and energy technology to stimulate growth. He may have always genuinely opposed Obama’s specific incarnation of the stimulus that greatly benefitted special interests, but he merely disagreed with the allocation of resources rather than the merits of deficit spending. In his view, the federal government amassing hundreds of billions or trillions of dollars in debt can bolster the economy if spent the way he approves, making him an advocate of deficit spending during recessions.
As he openly defends, Romney supports using any means necessary to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, including preemptive warfare. Yet, this position contradicts his repeated assertion that the President should listen to the top generals and experts regarding military decisions. Just a few weeks ago, the Department of Defense published a report stating “Iran’s nuclear program and its willingness to keep open the possibility of developing nuclear weapons is a central part of its deterrent strategy,” making its military goals defensive rather than offensive in nature. Furthermore, even if it both obtained a nuclear weapon and had the intention to use it, the report remarks that Iran lack[s] the air power and logistical ability to project power much beyond Iran’s boarders or to confront regional powers such as Turkey or Israel, making it physically unable to pose a notable threat to either Israel or the United States in such a way. Although Iran poses some threat, particularly through its funding of terrorism, the Pentagon has shown that Iran lacks both the intention and the capability of engaging in a large-scale attack against Israel or the United States.
Rather than listen to experts on these matters, Romney continues to promulgate the myth that a nation with a third rate army that has never initiated a war against another nation poses an existential threat to the United States and the world. And, he seems prepared to start a destructive, expensive preemptive war if his other aggressive methods, such as sanctions, do not deter (or do embolden) Iran.
Given his liberal leaning history and his penchant for substantially changing his positions when placed into different political circumstances, conservatives have to wonder whether Romney really embraces their values. Even when trying to be a conservative in the present, Romney remains ambiguous on what spending programs to cut. For example, conservative commentator George Will declared Romney to be the “pretzel candidate” due to his inability to determine whether or not he supports ethanol subsidies, a reasonably simple issue. Similarly, when presenting himself as a conservative, Romney’s budget plan seeks to “cut” spending by $500 billion by 2016, leaving annual spending eight percent higher than present levels. If Romney when presenting himself as a conservative advocates for the budget to increase by eight percent, then what will he do when he no longer has a political need to be a conservative?
By Sean Rosenthal