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Entries in Mitt Romney (4)


No matter who wins, the voters lose

And the loss is self-inflicted.

Already conversations are underway about presidential race for year 2016. More often than not, voters who complain and write off the political process will not engage with other voters in the effort required to draft a candidate to run for office.

Instead, most voters will wait around over the next four years, looking in from the outside as party leaders, loaded campaign contributors and political operatives decide what candidates will be "viable"--worthy of their support, primarily; then there is that secondary consideration--will voters support them?

For once can't we, the people, do the foot work for a presidential candidate that makes the exploratory committee and party machinery obsolete? Voters have the numbers to make this a reality; lacking only the coordination and political will.

How goes the cliche? If you don't vote you have no right to complain. And complaining never drew any voter closer to the decision making process that nominates and ultimately elects a candidate president.


GOP: relativism's standard bearer

Leave it to quick thinking children who can take advantage of a chaotic situation--when adults caring for them aren't paying attention--to achieve aims not in the interest of the whole family. The fallacious quality of Republican political discourse over the last several years invites a comparison to such juveniles. The hazard of such behavior is that truth and accountability endure such erosion so as to undermine a citizen's trust in elected officials, as well as the institutions they are selected to manage.

Take the case of Gov. Mitt Romney's 2012 run for president. Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi provides a summary of Romney's political campaign career to date. Capturing the kaleidoscopic quality of his campaign's talking points, or rather, allegations, Taibbi dispenses with the niceties offered by most journalists covering (for) the Romney-Ryan campaign.

[I]ndependent voters are not reading those dense commentaries [about Romney's tax plan and jobs proposal], and instead are responding more to the general vibe surrounding Romney's campaign, which is clearly benefiting from the fact that he's being so aggressive that the whole world is left scrambling to react to his bullshit.

If anyone else is as mystified about the quality and direction Republican political discourse has taken, look no further than to master political operator Karl Rove as the source of a novel messenging paradigm. As an unnamed Bush administration official Ron Suskind's New York Times Magazine piece published in the fall of 2004, Rove sets the journalist straight about the new prevailing political reality. In Suskind's own words:

The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality...." "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors… and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

"Creating our own reality" works well for children's play. However, in the world of adult responsibility with life-or-death consequences, this way of thinking dispenses with the burden of accountability—a crucial element to any functioning democracy.

In the case of the Romney campaign, nothing says, "We create our own reality" like switching your campaign platform or simply telling lies about your opponent—and doing either one with a chronic frequency. It illustrates to voters and everyone else concerned that you have little interest in accountability. You play by a separate set of rules than the ones everyone else must obey.

There wouldn't be much else to say about the moral hazard that "making it up as you go along" poses to our republic—except how troubling it is to watch a solid 25 per cent or more of voters willing to overlook the prominent role "creat[ing] our own reality" has taken in Republican political discourse.


Vouchercare, schmouchercare

President Obama arguably scored only one point in the first debate with Republican opponent, Mitt Romney. It was getting the former Massachusetts governor to admit that his team's proposed Medicare reform amounts to providing a $6000 annual voucher for the under-55 crowd to buy private insurance.

Given how high health insurance rates leap from year to year, the vouchercare scheme merits that band-aid-slapped-on-a-hemorrhaging-wound kind of metaphor.

What such policy debates always overlook is the assumption that health care should be dispensed primarily as a commodity rather than as a necessity.

Even President Obama affirmed that the conversation would steer clear of questioning healthcare's profit-driven structure. Marking a crucial difference between Medicare and the health insurance industry, the president acknowledged that "private insurers have to make a profit. Nothing wrong with that; that’s what they do."

Certainly, nothing wrong with that--unless one considers the industry's practice of denying coverage to patients with "pre-existing" conditions; or worse, refusing to pay for life-saving treatments.

"All the incentives are toward less medical care, because--the less care they give them, the more money they make." So said White House counsel John Erlichman to President Richard Nixon back on February 17, 1971, about the beauty of Kaiser Permanente's HMO model. Consider it as a pivotal moment in the history of health care in the U.S.

The Nixon administration had looked to the HMO as means of containing inflating cost of medical care, without ever questioning whether or not it should be embedded within a transaction for profit.

This is the starting point for any serious conversation about health care affordability that can produce action-worthy conclusions.

A sincere debate begins by posing the following question: If private industry's primary aim is profit making, how will it muster the self-restraint needed to deliver health care at an affordable cost?


When money is no longer coin of the republic

It is strangely comforting to watch as the Barack Obama campaign for re-election gets the short end of the fund raising stick. For the third consecutive month the Mitt Romney camp, along with its super pac surrogates, raked in millions more than than the incumbent president's organization. Too big to succeed could be one factor among others that buries Mitt Romney's campaign. Go ask Meg Whitman.

However, if Romney's financial braun prevails, then take a page from the things-must-get-worse-before-they-get-better manual. It would better serve this nation's long-term interests, for voters to watch the torrents of money washing into the election process--amplifying the echoplex of crass attack ads on radio and television. Then the electorate can go on pretending as though their influence over elections and governmental policy isn't already outspent into oblivion.

So, why not question our election culture's prevailing philosophy? That money makes the candidate? Yeah, okay--what about debating policy ideas? What values will prevail? And what happened to the one-citizen-one-vote fairness among all eligible voters?

Who has time for such quaint ideas? Mere distractions beneath the high-octane roar of the money derby.

Indeed, free speech is at stake here. If the corporations aren't allowed to wield their exploding bill folds to prop up either candidate--or both--then the First Amendment stands vulnerable to the tyranny of... democracy.

No matter which side you take on the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, arguing that the fundraising gap matters reinforces the delusional notion that money matters more than the exerted will of a U.S. citizenry. So, how long it will take for a plurality of voters to decide they are under no obligation to choose between bought-off Candidate A and greasy-palmed Candidate B--who knows?

However, it is fascinating that both the Romney and Obama camps go so far as credit small donors--those giving $250 or less--for comprising well over 90% of donations received respectively.

If that's truly the case (one can dream, no?) why shouldn't the presidential candidates and their supporters come to an election-landscape-titling the consensus? Why not adopt the $250 level as a campaign finance maximum? Why shouldn't voters demand it if both the incumbant and challenger are willing to acknowledge the measure of small donors' participation?

If ever such an opportunity emerged--that would be the day when votes became the coin of the republic.