As we near the November elections, the U.S. Senate races draw nearer. Arguably the most important indicator of the changing (or perhaps not) needs and political opinions of the American people, the upcoming elections will yield perhaps the greatest insight into how both parties will fare in the coming years. So instead, I’d like to focus this article on Mitt Romney.
Leading the conservative charge in 2012, Mitt Romney’s presidential race brought the hope of a victory to the Republican Party. Ultimately suffering a striking loss by 126 electoral votes (see the more detailed information here), Romney concluded very quickly that he would not be running for a third time. It seems, however, that while many questioned Romney’s foresight and ability to lead in 2012, his popularity has been growing again within the party and he has shied away from a full “no” on the campaign front.
Mitt Romney might be gaining traction again with conservatives after the last few disastrous years of the Obama Administration, and could be a potential candidate in the upcoming 2016 election. But it seems the real question is: should he be?
Let’s take a look at what buried Romney before. There was the completely misunderstood “binders full of women” comment, the (seemingly laughable in the moment) debates where Romney claimed that Russia was a “geopolitical foe”, and his portrayal as a cold-hearted millionaire, distant to the needs and wants of the American working class. Those were all good reasons for someone to lose an election, right?
But in all seriousness, who didn’t partially believe Romney’s joke at the Al Smith Dinner where he played on the idea of his wearing a tux in his free time? It was hard for a lot of people to empathize with someone who felt a little robotic at times, especially when compared to the hip incumbent President who supports gay marriage and taxing the rich more.
Part of this Romney brought on himself. His humility stopped him from boasting about his merits: the things he did for charity, the positive work he did with Bain Capital for others, the list goes on. Boasting is a terrible, terrible thing. But sometimes in elections, you can’t talk about how much better you are then the alternative if you don’t do just that. Romney struggled with balancing the dual notions that he was simultaneously “Mr. Nice Guy” who needed to play hardball more often and the upper class aristocrat who didn’t care about anyone or anything but his paycheck.
It’s truly a shame that he didn’t win: Romney was without a shadow of a doubt the most qualified, intelligent, and capable candidate in the race that either party was capable of producing. But conservatives can’t keep living in the past; if we’ve learned anything , it’s that dwelling on losses and the like makes us appear to the opposition that we’re stuck in the 1950’s. The 2016 election can be won through packaging old, tried-and-true conservative policies in a new way that appeals to the youth vote, the minority vote, and the other demographics that helped President Obama earn his second victory. Conservatives need a new face and Romney, as good as he has been to the party, needs to be replaced.
It really isn’t fun to say it, but just based purely on the stigma he has associated with Romney, the GOP can’t beat Hilary if they don’t have someone who’s willing to take the risk of sounding overly aggressive at times to make a point. Giving up on Romney is like giving away the dog you love – “can’t you see we don’t want you anymore, you stupid animal?”.
So what type of person should we be rallying for? Ideally a conservative, Christian (but not aggressively so), middle-aged (but not too old), well-respected, well-educated, forward-thinking candidate who is respected on both sides of the isle, doesn’t isolate too many voters (from either party), but doesn’t budge too much on anything of principle, and understands how to present conservative policies in a non-confrontational and intriguing way. A handful of names come to mind immediately: what about Ted Cruz, or Ben Carson, or Chris Christie, or Rick Perry, or *gasp* Rand Paul? Take a look at that list of attributes again and it becomes evident that we have to give up on something.
I’m sure I’ll get a lot of flack for saying this, but while a few stick out as real possibilities, and the election is so far in the distance it’s basically pointless to speculate about anything, the potential candidates aren’t looking very strong thus far. Republicans have to step up their game after this year’s November elections and utilize the hopefully Republican controlled Congress to get some major work done for the U.S. or they don’t stand a chance in 2016.
We don’t know who from the GOP is going to prove themselves in these next two years, but what’s evident is that someone needs to. And maybe even more evident (unfortunately), is that it shouldn’t be Mitt Romney.