— Published with Permission of ConservativeHQ.com —
Mitt Romney is to Republican politics what the little mechanical moles are to the arcade game Whack-A-Mole; an annoyance that bursts forth according to some malevolent algorithm and the faster you beat it down the quicker it pops back up.
After running a content-free campaign for President in which he barely mentioned the worst economy since the Great Depression, Obama’s effort to grant amnesty to millions of illegal aliens, and ignored the bedrock cultural issues that motivate key elements of the Republican presidential coalition, Romney ducked down only to resurface regularly to criticize conservatives and Republicans who were actually doing something to implement the Republican platform and the conservative agenda.
Now Romney has popped-up in the hopes that Utah’s peculiar Republican primary system will anoint him as retiring Senator Orrin Hatch’s replacement.
The only thing worse than having Mitt Romney in the Senate would be having Jeb Bush in the Senate, because, post his failed presidential campaign, Romney has been on the wrong or losing side of every public policy debate he has poked his head into.
Exhibit A in the panoply of Romney’s tin-eared out-of-step positions is what he said about Obama’s job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership and economic nationalism in general:
“It probably wouldn’t be a bad rule of thumb to oppose anything President Obama supports,” the failed 2012 candidate wrote, “But Trade Promotion Authority is an exception.”
“TPA is good for America,” Romney wrote to conclude a post on Facebook.
That kind of thinking is – in a nutshell – why Romney lost to Obama and why his old school globalism would be a disaster for the national Republican brand should he have the opportunity to give voice to it in the United States Senate.
As Ian Fletcher, Author of “Free Trade Doesn’t Work” and an Advisor to the Coalition for a Prosperous America, wrote in an article slugged November 7, 2012, “Romney Lost Because He Failed to Embrace Economic Nationalism.”
What did Romney have? A thin “five-point plan” with less substance than Ronald Reagan’s offhand remarks. The same old Republican orthodoxy, only of interest to orthodox Republicans. Tax cuts that weren’t irresponsible because tax increases would make up for them — so they weren’t really tax cuts, just changes.
None of this was inevitable. The political space exists for a new rightist vision of the economy. It’s called economic nationalism.
This position says that America’s economy has been getting sick from uncontrolled globalization for years now, and that the answer is to reassert our original economic tradition, which goes back to Hamilton, of running our economy explicitly in the national interest, not in mere deference to the supposed benevolence of free markets.
Its first big policy would be repudiating free trade. (Which I support.)
Its second big policy would be cutting mass immigration. (I take no position here, but it’s part of the package.)
If Romney had been serious about these policies, he could have offered the American people a real alternative to Obama. Both these policies are popular with the voting public, and even more so with the rightist and centrist voters Romney needed to win.
Romney did make some noise about cracking down on China’s abusive trade relationship with the United States. He did take positions on immigration (especially illegal) that were more opposed than Obama. I even thought for a while that he was really going to ride these issues.
But he didn’t. He took the positions best for him, but never really used them. His campaign was all “Your economy sucks.”
I don’t know why he did this. Perhaps he didn’t understand his need to offer a serious alternative and a positive agenda. Perhaps he thought he could win without them. Perhaps his shadowy backers waved him off.
We don’t know if Utah’s forgotten men and women know much about the real Mitt Romney – the vulture capitalist who likes firing people, who opposes economic nationalism and thinks the job killing Trans-Pacific Partnership would have been good for America, so between now and the Utah Republican Convention we plan to inform them about exactly who Mitt Romney is and who he represents – and it isn’t Utah’s hard-pressed working families.