Principles Do Matter, Which is Why Mitt Romney is So Offensive

I think principles in politicians matter, and I simply don’t see how anyone who shares this commonly-held view can support and vote for Willard Mitt Romney.

Mind you, it takes a lot, I mean a lot, for me to be offended by a politician for his perceived lack of principles.  I’m far more sensitive than most to the fact that politicians are required to strike a very delicate balance between representing the collective views of his/her constituents and following through on his/her personal convictions regardless of what the polls say.

I also don’t mind that politicians are ambitious.  I’m a strong believer in the theory that you need to want the job to do it well, and I think this holds particularly true for a grueling job of overseeing the largest economy and commanding the largest military in the world.  Candidates like John Glenn (1984) and Fred Thompson (2008), who thought that their name-recognition will allow the presidency to be served to them on a silver platter, just don’t cut it.

But I do mind politicians who don’t seem to have a goal other than to get elected to the presidency.  I do insist that politicians actually care to serve the people who voted them into office.

And it’s pretty clear that Mitt Romney has always viewed anything he does as a stepping stone to become the president of the United States just for the sake of it.

Mitt Romney has run for office four times–for the Senate in Massachusetts in 1994, for Governor of Massachusetts in 2002, for President in 2008 and for President in 2012–yet he has only been elected once, a definition of a perennial loser.  Romney’s authenticity problem has been so well documented that there’s really no point in regurgitating them here, other than to note that this man was a governor of perhaps the most liberal state in the country, yet only 2 years after his term ended was running as the conservative choice in the Republican presidential primary.  It was a truly laughable transformation.

What was not so laughable was Romney’s single term as the governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, a period I know very well because I lived through it.  A moderate candidate who immediately ran to the right upon taking office, Romney was offensively audacious in expressing his motives for the transformation; he spent more than half of his time in office outside of Massachusetts in places like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, all places which uncoincidentally host the earliest presidential nomination contests.

By the end of Romney’s single term, it became largely irrelevant to me whether I, a conservative Republican, agreed with the positions he ultimately took as governor.  I may have vehemently disagreed with almost everything my fellow residents in Massachusetts believed, but they deserved to have a man in charge who wasn’t in absentia and who actually gave a damn about them.

When I bemoan Romney’s lack of principles to my Republican friends, the response that I always received was “so are all politicians.”

Actually, no.

I have interned at congressional district offices and volunteered for multiple electoral campaigns.  Through these experiences, I have come across numerous politicians across different aisles, of various inclinations with different interests and personalities, in both Japan and the United States.  From the perspective of policy, I agree with many and disagree with some, but almost universally, I have come to respect politicians for their sense of public service.

What I have discovered is that most politicians are in the business of politics because they care about the people, the issues, or both.  The political system is often dysfunctional, elections every two years bring the worst in politics and people are generally cynical about the entire process, but despite all that, politicians remain in politics because they want to make a difference and they think politics is the best way to accomplish something.  And for that dedication and commitment, I greatly respect the vast majority of the politicians, even those with whom I don’t agree.

Perhaps this makes me a hopeless optimist, but at least it makes me genuine when I say that I can only vote for politicians who have the most basic of principles (which can’t be said for most other people, who rarely vote for politicians based on principles despite their good talk).

On November 6, 2012, for the first time in my life, I did not vote for the nominee of the Republican Party for an elected office.*  Quite frankly, the decision wasn’t that difficult.  It was, though, painful, and I had hoped that I would never have to go through the same experience again.

With Mitt Romney strongly indicating that he is once again running for president, there is a frightening possibility looming that my hope will be shattered only four years later.

*  For the record, I did not vote for Barack Obama either.


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