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I May Vote for Mitt Romney

I May Vote for Mitt Romney

I am considering voting for Mitt Romney for President next November for the following reasons:

President Obama made two large errors of judgment early in his term that have dissolved my commitment to him. One was expanding American involvement in Afghanistan with the military “surge.” My college roommate, Dave Miller, was an Ambassador under President Reagan and later deputy to Brent Snowcroft in the National Security Council. When the Obama Administration was considering Afghanistan options in 2009, Dave explained to Washington decision makers why putting more Americans in Afghanistan was a clear loser; he said publicly that “Afghanistan was driving the country over the edge of a cliff.” I shared his views then and do so even more now. Raising the Afghanistan ante was a tragic mistake.

Obamacare, and spending the new Administration’s political capital to get it, was the second big error. Two friends hosted a “focus group” for my Congressional campaign in September 2009. There were seven physicians in attendance, and all said that the American health care system was broken, and that the only good solution was a “single payer system” (see my earlier post) with “limits” to make it affordable. They noted that we already have “socialized medicine” for the armed forces, for the VA, and for Congressmen, but they saw no political chance that Congress would pass similar legislation for the rest of us.

Those physicians said I should not support Obama’s efforts to get health care legislation; “You’ll get tinkering at the margins and no real improvements.” I publicly opposed the Obama health care proposals, after the single-payer option was deleted from what became the law, and I took heat from some Democrats who supported my candidacy. Obamacare as enacted relies heavily on for-profit health insurance companies, and we remain the only country in the world to do so. Our system continues to be more expensive and less effective that health care in western Europe and elsewhere.

The political capital the Obama Administration used in getting Obamacare passed should have been used to attack the big problem all of us face. That’s climate change and continuing erosion of natural systems. That would have taken leadership and would have subjected Obama to much criticism, but perhaps not more than he got for Obamacare. Public distain for Obamacare showed in the 2010 Congressional elections. I lost, along with many incumbent Democrats, on election day.

Months ago a friend emailed me that he hoped Romney would get the Republican nomination because Romney has the combination of being “intelligent and unprincipled.” That combination raises hope that he would do what Richard Nixon did for China. No Democratic President could risk a “soft on communism” label by opening relations with China. Nixon, a certified anti-Communist who was both intelligent and unprincipled, looked pragmatically at the world and went to China. I may vote for Romney on that theory that a President Romney would look pragmatically at climate change facts and act effectively. A re-elected Barack Obama would be under strong Democratic pressures to keep gasoline prices low, which is exactly wrong for the environment.

So that’s it. I voted for Reagan in 1984 on a similar theory – that his anti-communism credentials could lead to agreements to get rid of nuclear weapons in the USSR and the US. Reagan and Gorbachev came close. Anyway, the $1,000 I gave to hear 2008 campaign manager David Plouffe talk about the 2012 Obama campaign was my last contribution.

Image by Pauljoffe at en.wikipedia [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


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Comments (10)

  1. Dave Miller Thursday - 26 / 04 / 2012
    Grier, not surprised by the negative reaction. You have to remember (you know better than I) that so much of the debate today starts with emotion….and occasionally wanders to fact…but not always. (this note from Dave Miller was based on Grier's reports to him of earlier reactions which are not reported here as formal "comments").
  2. Mark Winer Friday - 27 / 04 / 2012
    “I will vote for Barack Obama”

    Within the context of our still evolving friendship of over fifty years, I respectfully disagree with your leaning toward voting for Romney. Although they may be the only times we disagreed, I argued with your decision to vote for Reagan in 1984, and I differ now.

    Strangely, I agree with much of your analysis. Like you I am unhappy with the extent of our involvement in Afghanistan and the cobbled together health plan. However, I have no illusion that a Romney or McCain Presidency would have done differently in Afghanistan, and I believe that either Romney or McCain would have done worse in Iraq. We both suffered through the quagmire in Vietnam. Once again, we have proven that we Americans do not learn from history. Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and Leon Panetta have led the most competent, nuanced and mature foreign policy of any Presidential administration I can remember.

    I share your preference for a “single payer” health care system. After the thirteen years I lived in London and experienced British medical care, I would testify to the superiority of British medicine, which with its National Health Service, goes far beyond a “single payer” approach. The French medical system and the Dutch and the German systems are even better than the British. Their superior medical statistics and much lower costs prove their superiority. However, I do not believe that the United States is ready politically to move that far in a European direction.

    Although you surprisingly were not especially critical of President Obama on our shared environmental agenda, I would agree your disappointment about the extent of the President’s environmental initiative, and his willingness to indulge our nation’s addiction to oil and other fossil fuels. Once again, I do not believe that the President could do any more and have a ghost of a chance of being re-elected.

    I could continue my critique from the liberal side on a wide range of issues, but it is not useful. More liberal than Barack Obama and Joe Biden is not a realistic option in contemporary America. People as progressive as we almost never get elected to anything, especially in Dallas where we both grew up and where you live, and in Florida, where I live. We both risk “making the perfect the enemy of the good.” Trite, but true. Barack Obama and Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton and Leon Panetta are by far the best we can do.

    I agree with you that Mitt Romney is very smart, well educated, appropriately “Presidential” and unprincipled. I have witnessed over the last twenty years Mitt Romney’s taking so many positions on so many issues that I don’t know where he really stands. What I do know is who is behind him and around him. He has pledged himself to Grover Norquist and Paul Ryan, and other retrogressive forces in American politics. His appointment of Robert Bork as Chairman of his legal advisory committee adds to my apprehension about the kind of judges and Supreme Court picks a President Romney might make. Although the Vice Presidential nomination in the Republican Party is still wide open, we can be sure that the Tea Party and Moral Majority wing of the GOP will insist that one of them be a heartbeat away from the Oval Office. One cannot vote for the President a la carte. The President comes as a complete dinner, with his Vice President and Cabinet, his appointments, his judges, his advisors. Mitt Romney has secured the Republican nomination by making himself beholden to the most conservative elements in the American electorate. If you vote for Romney, you bring all of them in with him, with all of their odious positions on the issues we both care most about. Hoping that he is somehow so unprincipled that he will lead the country in forward-thinking directions, rejecting the counsel of all of those who brought him to the brink of nomination, requires a level of faith that I do not possess.

    I remain committed unequivocally to the re-election of Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Although I doubt that we will change each other’s minds, I look forward to our debate in person and in print over the next six months.
    • Grier Raggio Saturday - 28 / 04 / 2012
      I appreciate your very articulate comments. They sound like the talented rabbi you are.

      Our difference is that I’m a one-issue voter while you are more diverse. In my view, nothing makes much difference if earth’s natural systems turn bad for us. Other issues are like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic while climate change sinks our civilization.

      To me, the science is clear that human activities, particularly burning many millions of tons of fossil fuels and destroying half the earth’s forests, have already created a different, less friendly world. Changes are coming at increasing rates, and science warns of big challenges in the future.

      There are two rational, honest justifications for ignoring the evidence. One is discounting future events heavily. We all discount the future – what happens next year is less important than what happens now. An earlier post quoted Larry King’s take on longterm environmental concerns:”Nobody cares what happens in 50 years.” Some of us do care; I have a gut sense that what happens to our children and grandchildren in 20 to 30 years is just as important as what happens to us now. Many environmental groups share that moral judgment.

      The second respectable course is to accept what a few scientists tell us: we have already crossed “tipping points” and generated “positive feedback” loops. The train has left, what we’ve already done will change climates beyond beyond our present tolerances , and there’s no way to fix the damage. So continue the party, let the future be the future, and let the people still around when things go bad take care of themselves.

      Drs. James Hansen and James Lovelock may be right, that we’ve already cooked the goose, that taking actions now we should have taken in the 1970s will not protect us. I choose to be hopeful and to bet that luck, technology, and the uncertainty of all predictions will make my advocacy worthwhile. I doubt that either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney will lead with the courage, the skills, the passion, and the ruthlessness required to make any real difference, but I will vote anyway for the candidate who offers the better possibility for stopping, then reversing, the rise of greenhouse gas emissions.
      • Miles Saturday - 28 / 04 / 2012
        I took a look at your piece, I may vote for Romney, and I must say I am appalled. I agree on the Afghan war and on health care to the degree that I would have much preferred a single payer system. Both Obama decisions in my view were a calculation based on the politically necessary, that on Afghan, he couldn’t fight the Republicans on everything and had run on a Afghan should be fought program; and on health care that a single payer system had no chance. The moderate Dems told him so. These may have been wrong, and I did not support them, but I understand them. In fact I think that in foreign policy, Obama has been remarkably successful, and I hope he continues the current move to withdraw from Afghan.

        What appalls me is that you believe in withdrawal from Afghan–Romney is committed to continue this war; Obama clearly wants out. You are for single payer, Romney wants to abolish a national system altogether. Then how do you even begin to contain costs?

        Can I mention that Romney has said he would appoint other Thomases and Scalias to the court. Romney would basically cut environmental regulation. Romney would de-fund Planned Parenthood. Romney would empower the Tea Party to the degree possible. Romney would lower taxes on the rich, cut food stamps and other programs cutting billions from all social programs, and would dramatically increase military spending, recommitting the country to an expansive, America is the leader foreign policy from which Obama has carefully withdrawn (except on terrorism)

        The Republican party has gone off the charts. It denies everything, global warming, evolution etc, and you as an environmentalist would put them in power in all three branches! I do not believe that one should be governed by one issue when voting for president, but on your core issue, the environment, the Republican party has declared war, and you are going to support them? Perhaps I am misreading your piece?
        • Grier Raggio Sunday - 29 / 04 / 2012
          You’re not misreading me. I’ve said numerous times that my studying the science (James Hansen, James Lovelock and others) has convinced me that climate change trumps all other public issues. I will vote for the candidate who I judge offers the better possibility of effectively combining and using courage, skill, passion, and ruthlessness to force the hard changes needed to stop and then reverse greenhouse gas production. I think everything else is, by analogy, rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

          I have suggested that people with the wealth and concerns for their posterity which lead them to fund trusts for future generations can be moved into supporting what’s necessary to protect that future. That includes Rockefeller-type Republicans who admittedly have been squelched in this primary season by the radicals. I am hopeful that Romney is basically one of them, and will show it once the necessities of the 2012 Republican primary process is over. As you have said, Romney is intelligent, and the science is clear if you read it dispassionately.

          The man who runs the environmental-engineering company I own was a company infantry commander in the Vietnam War. His summary is that people act when their survival is threatened. The sad part is that when enough people realize that survival is at issue, it will almost certainly be too late.
          • Miles Tuesday - 01 / 05 / 2012
            Grier, that is utter madness. First, Romney is not a Rockfeller Republican, and believing that is just dreaming.

            More importantly, electing a Republican at this junction when the party has shown itself to be regressive, to say the least, and to be controlled by the likes of Karl Rove, Fox News, etc, that denies global warming and evolution is plain nuts. The idea that Romney will somehow revert to 1970s Republicanism has no foundation–he is sincerely Right to Life, unfund PBS etc. If the Republicans control House, Senate and White House, that will be the end–at least for a few years–of the environmental movement. Forget alternative energy subsidies of any sort. The market will govern. Forget gov’t interference with anything.

            We will be living in the land of the Tea Party. If Romney attempts a total turn-around the Republicans will revolt. He will not do that. It will be Texas in Washington, and your ideas will be as dead throughout the country as they now are in the Republican Party.

            Finally you have to focus on means, not ends. Strengthening the right will under no circumstances lead to stronger, more effective government, which is what you would like. You will lose all allies.
  3. George Draper Tuesday - 01 / 05 / 2012
    For what it's worth (not much), I am with Mark on this one, Grier. You "judge" that Romney has the "courage, skill, passion, and ruthlessness" to bring about an effective response to climate change. I can't imagine where you see anything like intellectual courage or moral passion in the man. "I am hopeful," you say, that Romney is actually a centrist, a Rockefeller-type Republican wearing a Tea Party hat as a kind of necessary costume. You're not even rearranging the deck chairs, Grier, you're up there in the bow of the boat with Leonardo and Kate, face turned toward the sun, hoping, hoping. Romney and a Republican Congress will get things done. I'll give 'me that. The rest is silence. George
  4. Mellen West Friday - 04 / 05 / 2012
    I am with Miles. Let me add that one of the most effective and dedicated EPA administrators, Dr Al Armendariz just had his head handed to him by a Republican death squad for comments he made about aggressive enforcement of EPA rules. If Romney is elected, I predict adios EPA and our goose is really cooked.
  5. rudy Monday - 07 / 05 / 2012
    Grier, your depiction of Romney as being “intelligent and unprincipled” does not provide much comfort that he will do the right thing about your primary concern, the environment. Intelligence does not equate with wisdom: please examine the current crop of highly intelligent individuals on both sides of the political spectrum. Where has wisdom come into play in the previous administration's handling of the economy, the environment and the 'war on terror?' I agree with a previous post that the Obama administration has led the most competent, nuanced and mature foreign policy of any Presidential administration since Nixon. My preference is to stick with proven competence than take a leap into an administration with a leader who is “intelligent and unprincipled.” Was there any doubt about the intelligence of Bernie Madoff? And, why wouldn't 'unprincipled' win the day?

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