While writing the long history of the 2012 United States Republican Presidential Primary, I linked here many a time, and felt slightly disappointed in myself that I had not written anything about Mitt Romney, a man who was campaigning for the position of most powerful person on the planet. However, while I felt quite adequate at talking about Mitt Romney, presidential candidate, I felt less confident about researching and describing the entire history of Mitt Romney's life. Thankfully, someone else has now done that job for me. This writeup will concentrate on Mitt Romney's recent political activities.
Although I am (as some of you might know), a energetic follower of American politics, I first heard of Mitt Romney during the 2008 Republican Presidential Primary. That year, he ran as the conservative alternative to John McCain, and managed to win a few states before McCain clinched the nomination. However, since there was already a conservative alternative to McCain in the person of Mike Huckabee, his reason for being in the race was somewhat unclear. This was especially the case since up until two years before that election, Romney had been the governor of Massachusetts, and in keeping with that state's politics, had held a number of moderate positions.
After Barack Obama won the 2008 election, Mitt Romney continued to run for president. And here I should explain something about the Republican nomination process. In political folklore, the Republican Party usually is seen as nominating the "next in line", meaning whatever politician has worked his way up the ranks to be the most prominent member of the party. Since Mitt Romney was the second place finisher in the 2008 primary, he became the unofficial 2012 candidate. Of course the technicality of the primary process must be done, but in the minds of many of the party elites, the media and perhaps for Romney and his team, he was already the 2012 nominee in November of 2008.
I have become much more aware of the kayfabe of American politics this year, and I have no desire to harp on the image of Mitt Romney as clueless patrician. However, I have been consistently annoyed by the presumptions surrounding his campaign. Frankly, nothing about Mitt Romney's position as "presumed front runner" makes very much sense.
The powerful Tea Party movement wanted to nominate a candidate who was conservative and populist. Instead, the Republican party nominates a candidate whose actual governance was moderate, and whose demeanor is the opposite of populist.
The general public and swing voters usually are interested in someone who has shown success in a large state. Mitt Romney was the one-term governor of Massachusetts, where his signature accomplishment was a health care law that had an individual mandate that he now derides.
And of course, a politician should have a history of winning elections. Romney has run in two general elections, one of which he lost (to Ted Kennedy) and the other of which he won with a 5-point plurality.
He also was a successful executive and ran an Olympics. Neither of which, in my mind, qualifies as a slam dunk reason for being moved to the front of the Presidential nomination line.
I am not here to slam Mitt Romney. There are already so many people doing that. It is still possible for Mitt Romney to win this election and be a good president.
But nevertheless, I do feel that Romney's success, how he was moved to the front of the line and designated the "frontrunner" by the party elites and the media, in front of other political figures that had more experience and more electoral success than him, is a sign that the "Next In Line" system is probably not the best way to select a nominee. Because while I don't have anything against Mitt Romney, I do not think he has any special qualities that automatically qualify him for the position he has now reached.