By now you should all know me to be a pragmatist and a bit of a Machiavellian. I look at politics politically, meaning that I view politics in terms of people forming strategies to accomplish their goals. Every living soul in Washington DC knows that their principles will only get them so far, and if they want to gain any sort of ground, they have to work around the competing interests of their colleagues. So when I say that Mitt Romney is probably the Republican Party’s best shot at beating Obama, know that I say it out of a sense of strategy rather than conviction.
If I had my ‘druthers, I’d probably throw my support to Ron Paul. Myself being a moderate, supporting Paul might come as a surprise to some of you, but I think that he has some policy ideas that are essential for our prosperity as a nation. Be that as it may, we all know that Ron Paul’s views are a bit polarizing. I don’t view Paul himself as a polarizing figure like Michele Bachmann, who seeks to divide rather than unite, but Paul has some views that some people just can’t get behind.
He’s got some good support, but it’s not what we need to win the election. Elections are won by accomplishing two things: motivating the base and luring the independents, moderates, and undecided voters. Could Ron Paul motivate the base? Although it pains me to admit this, I honestly don’t think so. We’ve seen of late how the GOP seems to be marginalizing him, and we know that he butts heads with the party establishment. He’s a Tea Party favorite, but the Tea Party is nowhere near a majority of the GOP makeup. Just as well, he’s an easy target for the Democrats because some of his views are very radical. If he were to run against Obama, the Democrats would run non-stop ads showing how “radical,” and “crazy,” he is. Moderates and independents would likely never get behind Paul.
What about Rick Perry? I know a lot of Republicans have expressed excitement over his candidacy, but he’s not a winner for several reasons. First, he has some ideas about changing the Constitution that are, in my opinion, absolutely ridiculous. For example, he wants to end the life-term for Supreme Court justices. He also wants to add an amendment that would ban gay marriage from the entire country. Sure, Perry would likely make the evangelical base salivate, but we have to face the fact that the Evangelicals alone are not going to win an election. His ideas are radical, and he makes no bones about being very, very Christian, and that would almost assuredly prevent him from winning any non-registered Republican votes. Let’s be honest, supporting the abolition of the federal income tax would probably be enough to end any presidential campaign, let alone the fact that many Americans might still be sour about Texans leading the free world.
Flip-flopper you say? That’s fine, too. He’s not a flip-flopper: he’s just pragmatic. He learns from his mistakes, and he’s not afraid to get his hands dirty. And unlike Ron Paul and Rick Perry’s radical views, and unlike Michele Bachmann’s polarization nature, Romney can be portrayed as someone who’s actually willing to advocate bipartisanship. Obama claimed that his goal was to bridge the gap between the two parties, but we’ve seen how that has turned out. Some in the Evangelical movement might have a hard time voting for a Mormon, but my guess is that their distaste for Obama will get them out to vote on November 2nd.
Romney is a governor with executive experience, and he’s willing to compromise. Radicals on both sides of the aisle hate the “C” word, but we have to remember that everyone else in between the radicals actually make up most of the electorate, and most Americans want compromise. The appeal to the middle is what wins elections, and right now Mitt Romney is the only candidate in the Republican field that has the potential to do that. Some Republicans want to make the GOP more radical, but that would almost certainly ensure the self-destruction of the party itself. Picking a far right-wing Republican would be almost as bad as just plain forfeiting the election and letting him run unopposed, or almost as bad as having a third-party candidate run.
If the Republican Party wants to beat Obama in 2012, then the GOP has to pick a candidate that’s not going to further polarize the electorate.