In the wake of Mitt Romney’s resounding victory in Florida’s primary, the odds of anyone other than Romney capturing the Republican nomination seem to be as low as the odds Barack Obama will be offered a guest professorship at Hillsdale College. As one of the many conservatives who are less than enthused about the nomination of a self-described “Progressive whose views are moderate,” the time has come to decide whether or not to bite the bullet and vote for Romney in the general election. Traditional party orthodoxy suggests that I should support the lesser of two evils. However, Romney’s ideology is so antithetical to the principles of conservatism that I believe the best thing I can do for the conservative movement and the country in the upcoming election is refuse to give my support or vote to Mitt Romney.
The biggest blow to Romney’s conservative credentials is his support for the state-level version of Obamacare during his time in Massachusetts. Romney’s supporters have painted Romneycare as the best of many bad choices for Romney in Massachusetts (although why they would offer up “Three Cheers” for the best of bad alternatives is beyond me.) I would be OK with supporting Romney if he openly stated that Romneycare was a mistake that the legislature forced on him. Unfortunately, Romney has decided to defend his mini-Obamacare project. Romney himself said “I’m proud of what we’ve done” in reference to Romneycare and lauded it as a “Model for the nation.” When asked about what he thought of Obamacare in 2010, Romney said he wanted to “Keep the good parts,” and applauded the “Incentives to purchase private insurance” (in other words, the individual mandate.) These are hardly the words of someone who views Romneycare as the lesser of many evils. Instead, they point to a man who is proud of signing the precursor to Obamacare into law and is fine with an individual mandate on the federal level.
Furthermore, Romney’s defense of the individual mandate bears a surprising resemblance to the arguments used by Progressives such as Barack Obama and Franklin Delano Roosevelt to justify their expansions of government. Romney has argued that government-mandated health insurance is based on “Personal responsibility” and Romneycare protects individual rights by preventing “free riders” from gaming the system. It almost seems as if Romney believes we must abandon free market healthcare principles to save free market healthcare. Furthermore, Romney’s argument for Romneycare echoes Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s sentiments in the Commonwealth Club Address that “The exercise of the property rights might so interfere with the rights of the individual that the government, without whose assistance the property rights could not exist, must intervene, not to destroy individualism but to protect it.” FDR and Romney make identical arguments. Romney argues that the exercise of individual rights on healthcare infringes on the rights of other individuals, and thus the government must intervene to protect “individualism.”
Jonah Goldberg recently wrote a column arguing that dissatisfied conservatives should vote for Romney because he will owe the conservatives who elected him and govern like a conservative. Unfortunately, Romney and his supporters have shown no sign that they care what conservatives in the Republican Party think. Romney’s scorched-earth campaign tactics against Newt Gingrich and the dismissive, snide treatment Romney’s apologists have given anyone who dares question The Mitt Romney’s conservatism (I’m looking at you, Ann Coulter and David Frum) doesn’t bode well for conservatives who hope Romney will listen to them. Furthermore, voting for Romney will hardly make him want to listen to conservatives. If anything, it will show that Romney can take conservatives for granted and still earn their votes.
Mitt Romney’s approach towards government places him drastically outside the conservative camp. Instead of arguing that big government must be eliminated, Romney seems to believe that he can run big government well. Voting for Romney sends the message that conservative voices can be ignored with impunity. Conservatives are ignored by candidates like Romney because they believe conservatives will simply vote for whoever has an R next to their name, the only way to ensure the GOP understands that conservative voices cannot be ignored is to show that our votes are not guaranteed. Mitt “I’m a Progressive” Romney is the ideal candidate to use as proof that even the most loyal Republicans have their limits and will not vote for Liberalism Light.