Maybe I’m totally barking but I’m starting to develop a bit of a soft spot for Mitt Romney. He seems to be in possession of a skill that I value highly but is seen as rather passé in political circles: he says what he thinks.
Don’t get me wrong, his latest comments regarding where Barack Obama is likely to get his votes from are nothing short of repulsive. He is demonstrating how far removed he is from the experiences of the people whose votes he is after and how divorced from reality the Randian ideology is that informs so much of contemporary Republican thinking.
But in some respects it’s nice to hear a politician who you know thinks that
“My job is not to worry about those people”
actually say it.
I’ve commented previously on how I think Romney’s inability to stay on-message is actually quite refreshing and in its own way is a demonstration that he isn’t a robot, and in fact a human being. I loathe the culture of dissembling and message-tailoring that permeates modern politics. It aggravates me on a visceral level, but the rightward shift of the debate in recent decades is connected to the refusal to engage in honest intellectual debate about big ideas. “Post-ideology” is invariably a code for “embrace Thatcherism”.
I also think the left always benefits when the right make their views on the world more explicit.
I suppose the only problem with Romney’s death-wish is that it takes some of the pressure off Obama to actually flesh out an alternative, more progressive vision. People will just vote for him out of revulsion at the alternative.
There are parallels here in the UK. Many in the Labour Party think that the actions of the Tories will hand them the next election on a plate. Such complacency is very dangerous, on a number of levels. Firstly, although the Tories are clearly in trouble it is not irrevocable for them. Secondly, it fails to appreciate why Labour lost the 2010 election in the first place. Simply pointing to the flaws of your opponent isn’t sufficient. You have to have a positive alternative. And to me that positive alternative is something well to the left of where Labour is right now.