Romney’s principles still evolving
USA Today, on its opinion page this week claimed Mr. Romney has mastered what the paper referred to as “double flips,” an ice skating term representing the ability to hold any position on any issue in front of any audience in its political application.
An unfair charge for a man very close to the U.S. Presidency?
Yes, according to Romney supporter and Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. McDonnell argues Mr. Romney is “a man of steadiness and principle who will stand for the values he has embodied throughout his life.”
So what are those abiding principles that guide Mitt Romney? Well certainly there is more than ample evidence that Romney has been guided in his life by faith and family.
And, no one can doubt that Mr. Romney has held capitalistic success and profit-making as guiding principles in his career.
Certainly, for anyone to achieve as much as Governor Romney has, there has to be a high degree of personal ambition as a guiding principle.
But Mr. Romney has another core principle that few have named, that he is a first generation postmodernist believer and leader in America.
In the 1970s European philosophers suggested that Western culture was finding it impossible to continue to believe in what they called the “metanarrative,” that is the fundamental truths of society.
Those essentials truths, trust in government, science, education, even knowledge, were, according to the postmodernists, going to undergo a breakdown in their assumptions of creditability. And truth itself, to some postmodernists, was taking a turn to subjectivity.
Now, 40 years later we can see the evidence of their argument both in institutional breakdowns and in the rise of subjective truth. Mr. Romney is the first U.S. presidential candidate to represent those new arguments.
Of all the postmodernists the core principles of Mitt Romney most completely mirror are the words of the American philosopher, Richard Rorty “…we should do what works.”
And so the Romney campaign has done exactly that, what works.
In campaigning in the very conservatively driven Republican primaries Mr. Romney presented himself as “an extreme conservative.”
In his presidential campaign he avoided controversial issues and said little about social policies, arguing he would basically just “do better” than President Obama.
But in the presidential debates, targeting undecided voters, women and all Ohioans, Mitt Romney became a passionate moderate.
While once Romney argued if the federal government bailed out GM you could kiss the auto industry goodbye, he now says he was the one who saved the industry with his plan.
While he argued for private financing of GM in a structured bankruptcy, he was fully aware there was no private financing available in the banking crisis, meaning GM would have been broken up and sold off.
Yet in the third debate he insisted he supported the bailout by Presidents Bush and Obama that actually did save the American automobile industry.
Romney’s position here, like many of his postmodern “whatever works” before an audience, is, in simple terms, a lie.
There are far too many postmodern lies in the arguments Mitt Romney offers to different audiences at different times.
His conservative base does not believe Mitt means what he says now in the debates, so they remain silent and supportive while Mitt says what he must to win, at the expense of the truth.
But if his conservative followers are right, that any lie to get elected is a good lie, and the newly minted Moderate Mitt is just a postmodern convenience, then what should you think of Mr. Romney and his core principles?
Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.