Law in Contemporary Society

Romney's Plan for 2012?

-- By AdamGold - 12 Feb 2008

--++I. Romney's Approach for dropping out in 2008

Mitt Romney, exemplifying Arnold’s idea that politics uses nonsense as its ordinary form of communication, stated that he, “Simply cannot let (his) campaign, be a part of aiding a surrender to terror,” in his bow out speech on February 7th, 2008. While this statement, on its face, flies against minimal logic and reasoning, it warrants a deeper analysis because it is seemingly representative of a greater strategy to develop an “electable” identity to use in 2012.

Arnold would agree that the logic and content regarding the threat of terror and its relation to the Republican Party vis a vis Romney is the least important aspect to analyze with regard to understanding what Romney was trying to achieve with his statement. It, in practice, is ceremonial and designed to create enthusiasm, to increase faith and quiet doubt about his status as the prospective future leader of the party and possibly of the nation. Thus, a more interesting analysis shall focus on what his statement was designed to accomplish and whether it is likely to succeed.

--++II. What was Romney attempting to achieve by issuing the statement?

--+++A. Avoid Political embarrassment

In the immediacy, Romney was practicing damage control. Despite millions of dollars and top tier status in the media, his campaign strategy did not produce adequate results, especially in Iowa and South Carolina. Romney sought to draw attention away from his poor delegate total, which an average voter might perceive as a sign of weakness or simply the public’s dislike, and instead focus it on his graciousness in deferring to the Party interest in the hope of further protecting the nation from terror. To citizens on the outside of the conservative Republican locus, these sentiments are utterly unconvincing and it is obvious he lost because he was not good enough or he had too many detracting qualities or views. However, to Romney’s potential backers, his approach to dropping out was an appealing sign that he is a prudent leader who recognizes that the Republicans must maintain their focus as protectors of the union’s security.

--+++B. Prepare for 2012

The terror threat is the strongest common thread that runs across the Republican constituency spectrum. Rich businessmen fear market interruption and instability, rural farmers fear gasoline price increases, Evangelicals fear diametrically-opposed evil powers threatening Christendom, and so on. Though internally contradictory, in that these groups often have opposed or even competing interests, terror appeals to all segments of the powerbase necessary to give him a prospective Republican nomination in 2012.

--+1) Reduce Mormon Controversy Through Focus on Terror

Romney’s approach to dropping out of the race properly draws attention away from the issues relevant to voters so as to not exclude any potential voter from his umbrella of influence. Instead, he highlights a pseudo-religious appeal to Evangelicals, by far the most populous single group requisite to securing a nomination, because it creates an “us” v. “them” in whom the “us” includes Evangelicals as well as Mormons to mitigate any fears regarding his faith. Romney, thus, alludes to this grand struggle to provide some, albeit internally inconsistent, reassurance that he is on the side of good and this is an issue that will continue to be relevant well into his future candidacy.

--+2) True Conservative in Waiting

Romney also sees his timing as premature in 2008. More importantly, he recognizes, in terms of a calculated gamble, that the next president will likely be unsuccessful at uniting the nation and solving the economic and foreign policy issues the US will face. He is betting that Obama (assuming a Clinton candidacy is moot at the time of this revision) will alienate and anger his prime constituency with liberal policies, tax increases and inexperienced mismanagement to cause a return-to-conservative-values sentiment much like in 2000 after the various Clinton scandals. In addition, he recognizes that there is an equal chance that McCain? , even if elected president, will so offend the conservative base with more liberal stances on immigration, tax cuts and other meaty issues that Romney will appear as the heir apparent to re-unite the Republican Party under Reagan’s traditional conservative values. His bow-out speech and subsequent CPAC address should be seen as his attempt to give Reagan’s 1976 RNC address to set himself up as a Party “uniter.” Romney desires to be seen as a true conservative who can provide leadership and accountability much like Reagan was perceived as doing for eight years.

--++III. Will this work?

Arnold wrote that the gradual decline and fall of social institutions are not the result of revolutionary ideas held by their opponents; it is the product of phobias against practical common sense action produced by their own ideas. Taking this into consideration, Romney’s strategy for 2012 could work. His focus on true conservatism and economic and terror management might be necessary to secure the Party’s nomination, but it will not be sufficient without accompanying new ideas and a fresh pragmatism.

Unlike the world Reagan lived in while securing his nomination in 1980, the world Romney seeks to inherit is filled with a network of non-state enemies, complex environmental evils, and economic problems which reduced taxes, government spending, and regulation may not be sufficient to redress. Thus, Romney will probably not be able to sit back as the conservative’s conservative and rely on terror and traditional values to propel him to the Whitehouse. If Romney can find an issue the American public is chiefly concerned with, and put a pragmatic spin on it such that the public begins to associate that issue with Romney, will he have a shot at 2012.

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r10 - 12 Jan 2009 - 22:40:34 - IanSullivan
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