I can’t remember where I read it, but, Forrest Gump’s mama to the contrary, life is not like a box of chocolates. A box of chocolates comes with a reference guide. Only an idiot is unable to figure out which piece is the delicious caramel and which is the weird raspberry creme.
Nevertheless, some conservatives, some, seem to be reliving that godawful paean to everything Baby Boomer and pretending that life is like a box of chocolates and saying, “Run, Romney, run” based on the thin premise that we might get something different this time. Perhaps it is just Romney, Baby Boomer that he is, who is responsible for these obvious trial balloons.
In any case, this needs to stop.
“Democrats don’t want to be associated with Barack Obama right now, but Republicans are dying to be associated with Mitt Romney,” said Spencer Zwick, a longtime Romney confidant who chaired his national finance council. He added: “Candidates, campaigns and donors in competitive races are calling saying, ‘Can we get Mitt here?’ They say, ‘We’ve looked at the polling, and Mitt Romney moves the needle for us.’ That’s somewhat unexpected for someone who lost the election.”
To quote Lana Kane: “Nope.”
Remember those heady days of 2012? We believed there was a glimmer of hope. Perhaps we even put a sticker on our car. (If you’re still stuck with it, WD-40 works wonders and doesn’t hurt paint.) Even staunch libertarians like Vodka Pundit offered cogent arguments for a Romney presidency. Those were good times. They are also in the past. Which is why I am more than a little concerned. We know this box of chocolates and we know which piece we’re going to get with Romney 2016.
Look, Romney is a good man. A fine man. We’d likely be better off had he won in 2012. But as we approach 2016, let us not confuse the general buyer’s remorse over Obama’s presidency with the idea that the best we can do is R-Money.
Seriously. We have Scott Walker sitting on a throne made out of the skulls of his enemies. Rand Paul, despite his last name and occasional difficulty with squaring his present positions with his past positions, seems to actually understand that running a campaign requires one to run a campaign. Cruz, Jindal, and Rubio excite, enervate, rally, and frustrate the base, depending on the day, but principle is far better than focus group tested responses.
In other words, stop trying to make fetch happen.
I get it. We need to win to stop Hillary Elizabeth Warren. But Romney? For starters, his record when it comes to actual elections, and not fundraising, isn’t great. Moreover, have we not learned anything from the also-rans? Maybe you’ve been in a coma for the past decade and can be forgiven. If you’ve not been in a coma, then perhaps you need to do some soul searching.
Yes, we could still lose, but at least we could lose with a fresh horse, fresh ideas, and not inaccurate Reagan nostalgia.
There’s a lot to be said for the virtues of markets and the power of individual innovation. After Reagan, conservatives haven’t been shy about saying it. But government needs to be limited for two far less cheerful reasons. The first is that human beings cannot be trusted with too much power. The second, as John Derbyshire put it in We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism, “a well-thought-out conviction that earthly affairs cannot be much improved by the hand of man—most certainly not by the hand of government.”
Does anyone, anywhere, sincerely believe that Romney agrees with Derbyshire that earthly affairs cannot be improved by the hand of man and government? I mean, his record in Massachusetts was impeccable, but how can he replicate it on the national stage? Surely he wouldn’t just try to make Obamacare better. Surely. What about his past decisions suggests otherwise?
Polling aside, Romney’s time has passed. Repeatedly. His flirtations with another run are natural. Powerful men do not become powerful because they are complacent. But conservatives do not have the gift of time that Green mentioned in his 2012 libertarian defense of Romney. Come 2016, we need an actual option, one who wants to change our trajectory instead of just managing it more effectively. And we need one who can win.
No, this is not an argument for being nice in an effort to be electable. It’s quite the opposite. If a candidate’s “electability” or ability to get along with the MSM are touted as selling-points, I’m buying something else. Electability is not based on being hospitable to hostile foes, but being able to present well-thought-out policies in a way that wins people over. We can pretend that not being scary is a strategy. Or we can acknowledge that Democrats are offering people a vision, albeit misguided, for a positive future. Romney has already proven himself incapable of offering such a vision. And unless he’s used some of his stacks of cash to buy a flux capacitor and a Delorean large enough to haul the entire country back to the ‘80s, the vision that wasn’t well received in 2012 will not magically become viable in 2016.
Personally, I love the ‘80s as they did deliver us Van Halen and an end to the Cold War. I especially wouldn’t mind the chance to relive the glory days of Van Halen if not the Cold War.
But it isn’t going to happen.
This is the ‘10s and our challenges are different. We no longer live in a world of “Jump” and “Tear Down This Wall.” And we need a candidate who understands that. If the best we can do is Romney 3.0, then we’re going to lose. Badly.
As Forrest said, “My Mama always said you’ve got to put the past behind you before you can move on.” It is time for us to put the past behind us, acknowledge where the U.S. is – not where we wish she was – and move on. It’s no guarantee, but it’s a better option than timidity and trusting the professional class.