Romney is really consevative

So, I just finished grading a bunch of a papers where my students had to analyze a Republican primary candidate.  Alas, way too many Romney’s and not a single Herman Cain!  Anyway, one interesting thing was how many students wrote about how “moderate” Mitt is.  Of course, if one wants to evaluate him by his record as Massachusetts governor, but this is now the 2nd presidential election in a row where has has run as a distinctly conservative candidate (in large part, disavowing his record in MA).  Many people just seem to assume that the proper ideological placement is current Mitt x former Mitt.  In one sense, that may be fair, but it does seem to me that in running as Republican president, we should take Mitt’s ideology to simply be current Mitt.  And when you do that, he really is not the least bit moderate.  Here’s Jon Cohn comparing him and Santorum:

And yet … are the two candidates really so different? On the issues, particularly domestic policy, they no longer seem to be. Both have called for radical downsizing of government, with Santorum seeking to cap federal spending at 18 percent of gross domestic product and Romney seeking to cap it at 20 percent. Either cap, if enacted, would decimate key federal programs and all but certainly require undermining cherished social welfare programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Both want to repeal the Affordable Care Act, effectively taking health insurance away from 30 million people. Both have called for reducing taxes in ways that will disproportionately favor the wealthy. Both promise the deficit will come down  – and both have sketched out fiscal plans that would, according to a recent report from the Committee on a Responsible Federal Budget, make the deficit go up.

Many seem to be convince that if he won the presidency, we’d see the “real” (if there is such a thing) Mitt take over and be more moderate.  But this “real” Mitt would still be beholden to a Republican base and Republican elected officials for his political power.   I even heard some speculation that he would nominate SC Justices who would uphold Roe v. Wade.  Seriously?!  Not unless he wants his presidency to effectively end at that time (or convert to working with Democrats instead of Republicans).  I just don’t see much reason to believe President Romney would really try and govern all that different than candidate Romney says he would.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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