On Tuesday, November 6, 2012, the American electorate will decide Mitt Romney’s fate. Whether he becomes the 45th President of the United States or merely the failed Republican nominee of 2012 will be decided in the last stretch of the campaign that will entail Party conventions and three Presidential debates. Romney will be coronated by the Republican Party at their August convention in Tampa, Florida along with his Vice Presidential selection, Paul Ryan, the Congressman from Wisconsin.
Like most Presidential nominees, Romney was educated at America’s elite institutions of higher education. Romney and Barack Obama are graduates of Harvard. Unlike Barack Obama, after his university years, Romney went on to become a successful business man at Bain Capital.
Mitt Romney grew up in the age of the financialization of American capitalism. It is a new stage of capitalism not widely understood by the American electorate. Wall Street investors have become pre-occupied with mega-profits and that is obtained through derivatives, hedge funds and hostile takeover of fledgling corporations.
A graduate of the Harvard Business School, Mitt Romney became an ace at buying companies and reconstructing their finances detrimental to worker’s wages, pensions and healthcare benefits. At the end of the reconstruction and the re-financing, Bain would ensure that their company made a ravenous profit and workers and communities were left in an immiserated state.
Bain epitomizes a particular aspect of American investment. Workers in America have not fared well since the 1970s. In the last 50 years, the gap between owners of capital and workers has widened. Wages have remained essentially stagnant and wealth among the very rich has become peculiarly concentrated more so than in any other industrialized country.
It is not unusual in America for businessmen after amassing private wealth, to seek the gratification of exercising power in the public arena. Romney challenged the late Senator Ted Kennedy in 1994 but lost that quest for a seat in the august United States Senate. In 2002, he was more successful in winning the gubernatorial election in Massachusetts. His signal achievement as a one term Governor was the passage of medical coverage for approximately 97 percent of the residents of Massachusetts, legislation that is similar to the Affordable Care Act passed by the United States Congress in 2010.
Mitt Romney initially ran for President in 2008 but lost to John McCain. In his second quest characterized by a grueling primary campaign for the nomination, Romney was triumphant in beating back the challengers for the nomination from Newt Gringrich, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, etc.
In his personal life, Romney earned a reputation as a family man and a distinguished leader of the Mormons. He ran the Winter Olympics of 2002 effectively and the electorate in Massachusetts made him Governor shortly thereafter. But Romney’s public life has been marred by serious character flaws that have been compounded by a Republican Party that has embraced Neanderthal policies. Romney had established himself as something of a Republican moderate. The moderate positions have been thrown overboard. Throughout the nomination period to be the Republican Party’s Presidential nominee, Romney gravitated to the new ultra-right ideology. This capitulation entailed the support of personhood, the eclipse of Obama Care, draconian immigration policies, and an elimination of the nation’s safety net. In regards to the economy, Romney’s platform advocates a reduction of capital gains and income taxes beneficial to the class that he personifies.
Romney won the Republican nomination through the pursuit of a scorch earth policy directed at his opponents. He showed an ability to raise money from wealthy donors and used PACs to outspend his challengers. The Romney triumph was in part made possible by the incompetence of the Republican field.
What has been remarkable about Mitt Romney as a candidate has been his unwillingness to be forthright. He has failed to release back years of income tax and has declared that he will only release tax information that conforms to the legal statute of disclosure. The failure to disclose his tax history has not helped Romney’s candidacy. His obstinacy on this score indicates that the political damage of releasing that tax history is greater than the present policy of stonewalling.
Romney and/or his campaign staff seem incapable of honest discourse. His political commercials exhibit a lack of character. Obama’s words are taken out of context and interpretations made that are simply distortions of the truth. The political commercial accusing President Obama of abandoning workfare for welfare is untrue and is a not-so-subtle attempt to play the race card which takes us back to the Willie Horton commercial that George Bush ran in the 1988 Presidential campaign.
The selection of Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney’s running mate has made the Presidential contest of 2012 even more historic. Ryan was touted not as a policy wonk but in conducting a national campaign, the Congressman from Wisconsin is backpedaling on the subject of medicare. Paul Ryan in the confines of Capitol Hill takes the position that government programs must be slashed and entitlement programs like medicare must become a voucher program to reduce the rising cost of medical care. As a Vice Presidential nominee, Ryan makes the demagogic case that he is about the business of protecting and saving medicare. He has been silent on the Ryan budget that savages the safety-net in order to reduce taxes on those already who have benefited from the concentration of wealth that has occurred in this country since the 1970s. Romney and Ryan, recognizing that their position on medicare will alienate the elderly voting bloc, are now engaged in a “Houdini” campaign making the case that it is President Obama who has slashed medicare by $716 billion.
Mitt Romney personifies the contradictions of finance capital. It appears that the years at Bain shaped Romney’s character. At Bain he was willing to destroy people’s lives to accumulate profit for his company and himself. There was no moral obligation to workers or communities. As a politician, Romney has shifted positions to win over the electorate. As a Presidential candidate, he has pursued an amoral campaign. Romney has refused to disclose his taxes of yesteryear. In the remainder of the campaign, it will be interesting to see if the American electorate will see through this naked quest for power.