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Turning Swords Into Plowshares

Don’t Run, Mitt. Don’t Run

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Mitt Romney, you're an honorable and accomplished man. You would have been a good president and infinitely better than Obama as a steward of the economy and national security. But, Mitt, we need to talk. You don't get it.


You don't really get the basic proposition that freedom works better than government by experts. Sure you believe the concept generally, but there are all those details and exceptions.

You hired Jonathan Gruber to guide your health plan. You believe global schemes to reduce carbon will help the climate rather than enrich and empower global elites. You endorsed raising the minimum wage because "Republicans believe in good paying jobs."

Mitt, you of all people should know markets--supply and demand--create good paying jobs. Legislation does not create value, it only creates price controls on inputs. You'll either lock out some potential employers, block some potential jobs, or lock out bottom rung job applicants. (All the same thing, really)

Mitt, you have brains, expertise, and you love America. But your ability to describe the benefits of a free economy, is, well, anti-Reaganesque. The thing is, the miracle of free enterprise is not mainly about the entrepreneurs who build products and fortunes, though that is a driving force. It's about the freedom and quality of life that results for everybody else in a society where producers, designers, investors, and risk takers can dream and try to fill needs. It makes more opportunity for all of us. More startups. More jobs. More growth. More consumer choice and comfort.


That helps everyone, especially the 47% you seemed so dismissive of, and were unfairly maligned for disdaining. You didn't disdain them--you just didn't show a Reagan-like faith in them. Or even a Gingrich-like faith. Reagan was decried for arguing economic freedom could help lift the poor. He was proved right. Gingrich was savaged for arguing welfare reforms that tightened requirements and timelines could help the poor. He was proved right.

But, critically, each man knew how to make his case to Main Street and to working America, and how to go over the heads of the Liberal Guard Dog Media to explainpolicies rooted in freedom work out better for everyone, especially the strivers that liberals say they want to help.

Mitt, you don't have that gift. You're extraordinary talking about what you know--capitalistic dynamism, profit, efficiency, management, accountability, and oversight. Unfortunately, you are infelicitous and clunky at translating those virtues into an appealing political vision to attract anyone but your pre-existing supporters.

And, when it comes to discussing areas outside your core competency of high level capitalism... Wait. Even at this, I might be giving you too much credit and benefit of the doubt. You supported and defended the financial bailouts, didn't you? So, whatever your vision and expressed support for free enterprise, you still don’t quite trust free exchange. You believe in a massive government safety net for too-big-to-fail banks and investment houses. You say it’s to protect us from the supposedly nuclear consequences if they fail. Little guys have to pay to keep big guys in business, or else the little guys will get hurt? Come on, Mitt.


To be fair, you did criticize the auto bailouts, which really were UAW union bailouts. That took courage, and you paid a price against the First Demagogue and his media Dog Pack defenders. But even then, you were weak and inadequate at answering their false charges against you.

You were poor at explaining how an evolving economy works. How, if Chrysler and GM nameplates came off the door, well, Americans would still want cars; producers would still want to supply them. Corporate and bankruptcy law would provide a strong and efficient reallocation of the assets and property, and American carmakers would be right back at work, serving American car buyers more efficiently than the failed manufacturers.

And, Mitt, this is the kind of thing you should have down cold in your sleep. This is business. You know business and finance and restructuring.

It gets worse in the things you don't know as much about, like health care finance and global climate. Then, your smart, credentialed, and trusting nature leaves you prey to the Grubers and the Michael Manns of the world. Not because you're a grasping progressive who lusts for control, but because you are a worldly, accomplished man who believes smart people can solve alleged problems. You become the front man for forces who are not your friend, or friends of liberty.


Mitt, America’s mood and moment calls for a better candidate than someone who would be an excellent, positive manager of the Executive Branch. You would be a strong president, but you’re a bad standard bearer. This moment calls for a vision of liberty, a grasp of how restoring constitutional principles can restore liberty, and a gift for explaining these things to average voters who didn’t learn jack diddly about any of that in public schools.

We desperately need a messenger who can talk persuasively to the boardroom and to the apartment house. One out of two ain’t good enough. Mitt, I wish you had won in 2012. I wish you would run far, far away in 2016.

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