An Independent Political Scientist Votes For Mitt Romney in 2012

I have yet to vote for a Republican presidential candidate in the 21st century, even though I’m a Republican-leaning Independent. But my voting status is about to change. I’ve stumbled into some ideas lately that will allow me peace of mind in voting for Romney this coming Tuesday. Granted, my vote may not mean much in the larger scheme of things. But it means something to me. It’s about one’s conscience in performing civic duties.

If Romney wins it all, I will undoubtedly regret my vote at times during his presidency. Nonetheless, if a sovereign debt crisis comes for the country before 2020—as I think probable—Romney will likely serve the national public interest more faithfully and prudently than would President Obama.

It’s not that Romney will be more successful than Obama in preventing our next economic crisis. Indeed, Romney’s policies, like those fostered by Obama, will help bring it on. It is rather that the U.S. will emerge with its economic independence and constitutional structure less damaged from a Romney presidency than will be the case if we have to endure another four years with President Obama.

I work as a political science professor at a public university. My courses include the U.S. Congress, the Presidency, Political Parties, Public Opinion and Intergovernmental Relations (Federalism). I worked in the financial industry and not-for-profit sector prior to my academic career. Real world experience has made me as much a pragmatist as an idealist. Even so, after three presidential debates I could not ascertain which way I was leaning in this presidential campaign. Tired of casting protest votes for third party candidates, I found myself hoping to do more than pick daisy petals to decide my vote in this year’s contest. But try as I might, I could not figure out which of the two major party candidates came bearing lesser evils. Each candidate’s aspirational virtues were seemingly canceled out by policy vices. A vote for either was as much a vote for doubt as for convictions. The conundrum seemed impenetrable: there was no way to cut the Gordian Knot.

The Two-Party System Constrains Reform

The curse of the modern two-party system is that one must vote for the party one is less inclined toward in order to discipline the party one prefers overall but disagrees with in terms of recent performance or policy evolution. For example, the Republican party stands for small government while insisting upon a governmentally dependent military that absorbs over 40% of the planet’s defense spending. If this is not big government, what is? Likewise, the Democratic party is pledged to equality while promoting preferentialist policies not only in income redistribution but in constructing a new language of economic justice. Granted, Republicans are no holier, as the GOP’s position on capital gains exerts a class-based effect.
In short, there is no way of protecting the sustainable public interest by voting for one party or the other because both parties protect the public interest through some of their party planks while undermining it on other measures. Nothing short of a far-reaching reorganization of the political system in the context of prudent culture could adequately protect the public interest. Unfortunately, the public mind is in no condition to attempt a governmental reorganization. That said, a far-sighted president could protect the main beam of the ship of state: national autonomy. The preservation of true national independence gives Americans the future opportunity to repair what has gone wrong.

In the Federalist Papers, James Madison emphasizes the idea of the national public interest and the common good. It was for this public interest that the U.S. Constitution was created. It was in pursuit of the interest that Lincoln sought to save the constitution and reunite the nation. America has come too far to give up American independence just because republican democracy has run amuck. Yet, giving it up in a Hobson’s choice is what we will do when our sovereign debt crisis arrives; that is, unless the American people are strengthened by the resolve of a U.S. president who values American independence more than his political career.

The Key Issues

We are thus brought to three notions that inform my late-blossoming vote choice. Is a sovereign debt crisis coming to the U.S. in this decade? Two books from very different perspectives help readers explore this question.

Secondly, does it make sense to cast one’s vote on the basis of a hazard not yet realized? Perhaps. If Americans had known in 1928 that the Great Depression was coming, would it have made sense to find a candidate like FDR rather than Hoover? Most Americans would say, “yes.” Working from this perspective, two more books are useful: books based upon contrasting assumptions.

Finally, would a Romney presidency result in a more recoverable America than if President Obama remains in the Oval Office? This is the question that helped me distill my voting decision. Through circumstances, I am well-acquainted with Mormonism—substantively and culturally. While the Mormon faith is not my cup of tea, I’ve found good reasons to genuinely admire many Mormons whose scruples are as inspirational as sound. That said, all identity groups have members that live in hypocrisy and blindness—the LDS movement is no exception. Yet, upon one measure I’ve witnessed no inconsistencies or vacillation: Mormons love America and are resolutely committed to the country’s continuing autonomy.

I am not enamored with Mitt Romney’s path to wealth—an issue I’ve struggled to get around. But the two parties have served us what they will: the menu is now narrowed to chicken or pork. Our damaged system regularly elevates people lacking the requisite courage to deal fairly with the largesse both parties pitch to supporters. If you doubt this, consider Woody Brock’s recent book, American Gridlock: Why the Right and Left are Both Wrong. It is evident to many observers that neither Obama or Romney can save the day. Wall Street and its international counterparts will continue to gain power—a thesis ably developed in Jeff Connaughton’s 2012 book, The Payoff: Why Wall Street Always Wins. Global plutocracy will continue to enfeeble the ability of states to defend their interests apart from financial lifelines arranged by central bankers.

The Question: Who Will Vigorously Defend the U.S. Constitution?

If Barack Obama is in the Presidency when the Federal Reserve becomes “a bad bank” that must be reorganized with deference to the interests of the global central banking community, Obama will gladly use his rhetorical skills to defend unilateral uses of executive power in exchanging American financial prerogatives for alleged world economic security. No member of the U.S. Senate will get a chance to filibuster because international economic agreements have not been considered treaties under the U.S. Constitution by either the current or the previous administration. Indeed, Richard Stengel, managing editor of Time Magazine, argued in a July, 2011, special edition of the weekly magazine that our President should not allow the U.S. Constitution to stand in the way of a globalized economy. Allegedly, he should take “extraordinary measures” in using his executive powers to sell American assets or create binding instruments to cover “all of the U.S.’s obligations around the world” (pages 38 and 45). There is little doubt but that President Obama has been immersed in the same culture to which Stengel has an affinity. Thus, our current president would likely welcome the financial innovations of an international intelligentsia if the U.S. were to be caught in a sovereign debt bind.

Mitt Romney’s cultural orientation toward the U.S. Constitution is vastly different than the President’s. Romney would rather be dead than see the U.S. Constitution die. Romney’s deep Mormon roots impel him to fight for the U.S. Constitution and American independence, lest a decline of either undercut Mormonism’s understanding of its place in the world. Indeed, with Obama choosing to break general election precedence and opt out of federal campaign funding in 2008 and 2012, Romney may have concluded that no one but a wealth-connected governor could displace Obama.

In deciding my vote, I cannot identify any issue as important in 2012 as the continuing independence of America under the auspices of our unfettered U.S. Constitution. Granted, the U.S. Constitution has suffered considerable damage across the years and has not been prudently amended to defend the national interest in economic matters. Nonetheless, our longstanding Constitution gives us the power to develop solutions to the problems that ail us.

Everything about Mitt Romney says he will fight to preserve our U.S. Constitution and independence when the going gets rough. By contrast, many fundamentally important things about President Obama suggest that his stewardship of America’s autonomy will be more rhetorical than real when push comes to shove. As a political specialist unable to decide his vote on the basis of counterbalancing policy considerations, a careful contemplation of both candidates’ likely actions in the midst of a sovereign debt crisis produces clarity sufficient to make a vote choice.