Why Voting “Not Romney” Is Rational for Conservatives

Choosing between Obama and Romney is like deciding whether you prefer Thelma or Louise behind the wheel

Anyone who has read my writing knows I am a proud member of the Libertarian Party, and am working on the Johnson/Gray campaign. But, along with conservatives who are refusing to vote for Romney, I have been subjected to a litany of accusations. “You just want Obama to win,” some say. Others call those of us in the neither-Obama-nor-Romney camp crybabies, whiners, hotheads, idiots, and a litany of other names. Besides being a blatant attempt to bully a vote from another, it’s just flat-out incorrect.

It comes down to expectations. Many of us know that the country is bankrupt, and that we have very tough times ahead of us if we don’t get our act together in short order. Our national debt presents the greatest existential threat to our nation in generations, if not our nation’s history. When it comes to Romney, the question becomes: Do you think he’s up to the heady task before him?

There are perfectly rational reasons to say either yes or no. For example, the owner of this site, LD Jackson, is a perfectly sane, rational individual who has endorsed the guy from the Bay State. I can say with full confidence that he has well-reasoned justifications for his endorsement.

Similarly, I am more-or-less sane, and I can say with confidence that I would not vote for Romney for any elected office. I, too, have perfectly rational reasons for my decision. Yes, I am a card-carrying Libertarian. But I am not opposed to his candidacy because he’s from another party; I’m in the LP because the Republican Party consistently does things like nominate Romney for president!

The primary difference between those who support Romney and those vehemently opposed to his candidacy is the former are more likely to believe what he is saying now, and the latter what he did as Governor (as well as many of the things he’s currently saying). He has a liberal track record, period. Universal health care. New taxes on businesses. Gun control. Same sex marriage (which I applaud; most conservatives do not). Nominated liberal justices to the Massachusetts Supreme Court. His liberal track record is undeniable.

But first, let me be perfectly clear on one thing: Barack Obama has been a disaster of a president, and the country is in deep trouble if he is reelected. I just don’t buy into the “anybody but Obama” shtick. That line is an attempt to shield Romney from serious analysis, and nothing more.

And let me be perfectly clear on another thing: if Romney wins in November, the country still goes into the dumpster. Perhaps slightly later than if Obama is reelected, but maybe not. If you agree with that point, your refusal to vote for the Republican is perfectly rational and justified.

Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson said the following during the National Convention, and I think he captures the flavor of my views pretty well:

I was on NPR’s All Things Considered yesterday. The question was, “You’re on the torture rack, they’re going to kill you, who are you going to vote for? Mitt Romney, or Barack Obama?” I said, “Look, I’ve climbed Mount Everest. I know what it’s like to hunker down and do what it takes. Take this to the bank: I would rather die.” Collectively, the country does not need to die.

I agree with Governor Johnson that the country dies whether Obama or Romney wins in November. I will spend the next two days defending my position. Had the GOP nominated a qualified candidate such as Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana, my criticism would be much more subdued. After all, by wanting to set social issues aside, Daniels sounds more libertarian than conservative these days!

That said, let me go through what I anticipate from a Romney administration. You can argue with my expectations, but you will be hard-pressed to say it is illogical to vote a different way if you believe these things.

Spending Will Be Higher Under Romney than Obama

Our soaring national debt presents a grave existential threat to our nation. Solving the problem will take enormous courage and political capital to accomplish. Everything—and I do mean everything—must be on the chopping block. All things; large, small, and everything in between. Trimming on the margins will not save our country.

So what has Romney proposed? He wants to increase defense spending faster than President Obama. In typical Washingtonese, he calls it reversing Obama’s defense “cuts” because Obama has lowered the growth trajectory of defense spending. Keep in mind that defense spending is roughly tied for second place with Social Security as a category of spending.

And what about the largest category of spending, Medicare? Romney wants to reverse Obama’s “cuts” there, too, and save Medicare “as we know it.” To be fair, the so-called cuts were part of the ObamaCare deal, and so far haven’t materialized. But when looking at projected deficits, at least on paper Romney wants to add $100 billion-plus to anticipated deficits.

And what about welfare entitlement reform? Let the man say it himself:

I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it.

And most recently, Romney supported the extension of student loan subsidies without offsetting budget cuts as House Republicans wanted. This is to the tune of $6 billion, which probably exceeds all of Romney’s proposed budget “cuts.” As Richard Viguerie at Conservative HQ wrote:

Apparently Romney’s strategy for the fall campaign will be, “if you can’t out bid Obama, at least join him.”

And what about the 2009 stimulus bill? In his autobiography No Apology, Romney supported that, too, just like Bush’s $150 billion stimulus. He thought it should have been modified, but he supported it nonetheless. You can expect more of the same.

So why do I say spending will be higher under Romney than Obama? In addition to the reasons I have just stated, if reelected, Obama’s spending will be limited as long as the GOP remains the minority Party of No. But, as I’ve said before, the First Rule of American Politics is that it is easier to increase spending than to cut it. Democrats, who will control enough of the Senate to control any budgetary outcome, will grumblingly agree to increase defense spending, but will block any substantial cuts. The First Rule will prevail, and spending will increase faster with the Republican in the White House than Obama.

Consider the six major categories of federal spending: Medicare/Medicaid, Social Security, Defense, Non-defense discretionary, Mandatory, and Interest.

Medicare and Social Security spending will increase due to the Baby Boom retirement. Medicare and Medicaid spending will increase due to health care inflation. The Interest expense is set to increase, and is the fast growing segment of the budget. Romney wants to increase Defense spending. He doesn’t want to tackle welfare reform (“Mandatory” spending.)

That leaves Non-defense discretionary spending, which accounts for only 18% of the budget, and shrinking fast as a percentage. Reduce it to zero and we don’t even cut the deficit in half.

The numbers simply do not work out for Mr. Romney—or the country if he is elected. Based on what I’m hearing from the campaign trail, his proposed spending increases exceed his proposed spending cuts. We are in serious trouble if he is elected.

Romney Will Not Repeal ObamaCare

That Mitt Romney is the “Godfather of Universal Health Care in America” is not in dispute. He took the Bay State far further than even the Democratic controlled state legislature had intended. Yet the former Governor who never calls himself Governor is now claiming that he supports the repeal of ObamaCare.

His opaque Constitutional argument to justify repeal doesn’t withstand even the most cursory review. That should lend comfort to conservatives; another Republican presidential nominee who plays fast and loose with the Constitution.

He claims that RomneyCare is Constitutional, but ObamaCare is not. Why? Does Congress lack authority to provide health care services? If so, Medicare and Medicaid are Unconstitutional. I haven’t heard a peep out of him on that one.

As late as 2010 he still supported duplicating the Massacusetts model across the country in his autobiography No Apology. Sensing the potential political backlash from conservatives, the offending portion was removed from the paperback edition! Romney has even said that he “likes insurance mandates” and that “they work”—even during the 2008 presidential debates!

And even early in the 2012 campaign he was in the ObamaCare “reform” camp. Rick Santorum (who I rarely compliment) effectively forced Romney to adopt repeal as a position. And even then, as Santorum frequently noted, the former Governor never pressed the argument with much zeal and Santorum was correct to hammer him for giving away an important issue.

The bottom line is that repealing ObamaCare is going to require a lot of political capital. It will require relentless pursuit to accomplish. There is no evidence that Romney will be willing to make the political sacrifices necessary to repeal ObamaCare, especially since it’s a brand new position for him—if it is indeed his position—and he does not defend it vigorously. (Don’t be surprised if he doesn’t switch back to “fixing” ObamaCare by November.)

Indeed, it’s highly doubtful he actually believes in repeal in the first place. He’s a forked-tongue politician who will say anything to snare your vote. And when you look at his political past, at one time or another he has tried out every possible position on everything.

My expectation is this: He will go through the motions of pretending to repeal, will blame Democrats for obstructing with a wink-and-a-nod, and then they will all sit down and “fix” ObamaCare—something even Democrats admit needs done.

Romney repeal ObamaCare? Ain’t gonna happen.

This article will conclude tomorrow, and is also published at Country Thinker.

About Country Thinker

Ted Lacksonen has written 97 posts in this blog.

I am a proud mem­ber of the Coun­try Class — the roughly 75% of Amer­i­cans who have been effec­tively dis­en­fran­chised by the minor­ity Rul­ing Class. As a law stu­dent and lawyer, I trav­eled (uncom­fort­ably) in Rul­ing Class cir­cles. As an HVAC installer, sheet metal fab­ri­ca­tor, and ship designer, I trav­eled (com­fort­ably) in Coun­try Class cir­cles. My expe­ri­ences in these two widely diver­gent uni­verses have given me a dual per­spec­tive that is uncom­mon among writ­ers and thinkers.

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  • Jason

    You’re not serious here, are you? I’ll assume that this entire article was either written under the influence or as a joke.

    • http://countrythinker.com/home/ Country Thinker

      I’m absolutely serious. That’s why, particularly on the spending side, chose to quote the candidate himself. If you listen to his specific proposals instead of his broad platitudes the guy’s a nightmare.

      Yes, it was written under the influence. I was under the influence of careful analysis, not partisanship.

      • lou222

        You bring up alot of very valid points about Romney, I will give you that. We are in a hell of a position right now. We have “bad” and we have “worse”, which do we choose? I really don’t like the thought of either pick myself. As for using the word “rational”, not sure that even fits to describe any part of this election on either side of the aisle. I have never in my 58 years seen an election like this. We are going down, either way we choose. What kind of a choice is that?

        • Drift forge

          One where Gary Johnson might make sense.

        • http://countrythinker.com/home/ Country Thinker

          I liken the Big Two choices as Jimmy Carter v. Alf Landon, and maybe worse on both scores.

    • Drift forge

      Why do you ask? A third party candidate must make the case that neither of the other candidates is conscionable.

  • Pingback: Why Voting “Not Romney” Is Rational for Conservatives | Daily Easy News

  • http://capitolcommentary.com Harrison

    1. Does a 3rd Party candidate have a real chance to win?
    No.
    2. Would an Obama win be good for the country?
    No.
    3. Would a Romney win be good for the country?
    Better than Obama.
    4. Would voting for anybody else but Romney help Obama to win?
    Yes.

    Why vote for anybody but Romney? I understand… you are taking a principled stand and that’s great, but vote for Romney then work to help the country.

    • Driftforge

      Because #3 is incorrect.

      • http://countrythinker.com/home/ Country Thinker

        I agree. I think I spelled out the reasons why I don’t think Romney will be any better.

      • http://capitolcommentary.com Harrison

        Note I said Romney would be better for the country than Obama.

        I do not believe that is incorrect.

  • http://www.thebitteramericans.com Shane

    I’m not going to take the time to read this…voting “not Romney” is rational for Conservatives, but voting “not Obama” is ludicrous for Libertarians…

    • http://countrythinker.com/home/ Country Thinker

      So you think libertarians should vote for Obama?

  • http://americaswatchtower.com Steve Dennis

    I agree with just about everything you wrote about Romney and I cannot stand the man, but I do have to take issue with one thing. Romney did not pass gay marriage, it was mandated by the courts, although ROmney did nothing to fight back against it because he already gave up on Mass. and was running for president.
    I am finding it very hard to get behind ROmney and at this point I am hoping that either Obama or Romney is so far ahead in the New Hampshire polls at the time of the election that I can cast my vote for Johnson without feeling like I contributed to Obama’s reelection, and that is one sad commentary on American politics today.

    • http://countrythinker.com/home/ Country Thinker

      Thank you for the clarification. I overstated the point, but I was technically correct in saying that the law bears his signature. All in all his position on the issue is murky. He opposes same sex marriage, yet supports legal civil unions with the same legal protections as marriage. But then he also says he doesn’t support legal protections that would make civil unions the legal equivalent of marriage:

      http://www.suntimes.com/news/otherviews/12547303-452/romney-is-inconsistent-on-topic-of-gay-marriage.html

      • http://americaswatchtower.com Steve Dennis

        No problem, and believe me it isn’t easy for me to defend ROmney at all.

  • http://www.ldjackson.net LD Jackson

    I understand your concerns and your reasoning, but I just can not come to the same conclusion you have reached. I do not believe Romney will be as bad as Obama.

    • http://countrythinker.com/home/ Country Thinker

      As I said, Larry, I respect the rational conclusions of folks who have come to a different conclusion. As I also said, it comes down to expectations. While Romney may be better than Obama in some ways, I don’t think it will be nearly enough to change the course we’re on.

  • http://countrythinker.com/home/ Country Thinker

    Let me make four points to support my argument:

    1) Republican voters need to own up to what the GOP did the last time they had the White House. Assuming zero spending increases from the 2008 budget, we would still have a $600 billion deficit. Add in natural increases to Medicare, Medicaid, and Scoial Security due to cost increases and the Baby Boom retirement, as well as higher defense spending, you will find that Obama and crew have added relatively little to the deficit. Obama is correct that he inherited a mess, but he has yet to act like a grownup and take ownership of the problem.

    2) Most of the senior GOP Congressional leadership voted for all of the spending that has us in the mess we’rin, and now we’recounting on them to fix he problem they created. I’m none too optimistic.

    3) The thinking I hear from many in the GOP rank and file is that conservatives in the House will drag Romney along into fiscal responsibility that doesn’t come to him naturally. Note that even with control of the House (which means the purse strings), the GOP has consistently waterred down its budget discipline, including diluting Paul Ryan’s Medicare reform plan to the point of meaningless: http://www.redstate.com/dhorowitz3/2011/12/16/so-this-is-it/. Romney himself has leaned on Ryan to leave a “public option” (my term) for seniors to remain in the system “as-is.” I v no confidence in the House Republicans.

    4) Watching the GOP House leadership is like watching the clowns at a circus. Boehner is claiming to be a fiscal conservative by srawing a “hard line” on his new budget deal. Anyone falling for this has a short memory. Basically he’s trying to renegotiate the deal he cut last August. The plan was 90% favorable to Democrats, particularly by making defense cuts the primary focus of any spending cuts. Obama totally schooled Boehner, and now he wants to renegotiate: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304371504577405863180919668.html