Karen is taking her first break since beginning to write in this space. She is offering some of her most remarked-upon columns for you to enjoy again.
Mitt. A Democrat? (first published in December, 2011
(It probably applies to gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker as well.)
Our guy Mitt has met trouble lately in his effort to become next year’s Republican presidential candidate. First Michele Bachmann, then Rick Perry, then Herman Cain threatened his front-runner status. Because of ignorance, inarticulateness and womanizing these three are finished. Now Newt Gingrich is on an upswing. Everyone already knows how mean, hypocritical and unfaithful Newt is, so it‘s hard to imagine any new information that could rout him. Newt could wreck Mitt’s dream of becoming president.
That’s sad. Mitt seems like a good guy who has been running for public office since 1994, almost twice as long as he ran Bain Capital. We hate to see a man with a dream disappointed.
But Mitt made a regrettable decision about his affiliation early in his political career. He probably chose the Republican Party because both his parents had run for office admirably on that ticket. But children often reject their parents’ choices. When Mitt saw the direction his parents’ party was going, he should have become a Democrat. He might have had a lot more to show for his efforts than he has now.
Consider this. Mitt is stiff, polished, well-educated, lacking in humor and out of touch with the common man. Sounds like a Democrat to me.
Democrats don’t take umbrage at a Harvard education or lack of humor. Mitt fits in well with Mike Dukakis and John Kerry, two stiff, polished, well-educated men. Mike Dukakis rode the T. Some interpreted this behavior as being holier than thou. His affection for the T paradoxically showed how out of touch he was with the common man. Mitt’s out of touch too. But Democrats can handle such paradoxes.
Democrats would have welcomed Mitt’s views. He was an advocate for choice and he said gay couples were fine with him. At one point Mitt said human activity contributed to global warming. That point of view seemed to reflect his good education and good sense.
But as the Republican Party changed, Mitt was left high and dry. He had to make up stories about his beliefs. He looked less serious as his positions changed.
If he had been a Democrat, he wouldn’t have had to abandon his principles, especially in trying to weasel out of his role in passing Massachusetts’ health care law. Democrats would applaud the law and Mitt for making Massachusetts’s infant mortality rate the lowest in the nation. That’s got to be the outcome any “Christian” would praise. Moreover, because of Mitt’s mandate that everyone has to buy insurance, we no longer have to subsidize the uninsured free-loaders who went to hospitals anyway, raising costs for the rest of us. Mitt could have gotten credit.
Mitt’s Mormon ties get him in trouble with the Republican religious right. He would have had it easier as a Democrat since Democrats don’t care what your religion is or even if you have one. All Democrats care about is that you treat the poor, the unemployed, returning veterans and the disabled with compassion and a leg up. In Christianity, that’s known as the Golden Rule. Mitt’s religion probably subscribes to that notion whether or not it is Christian.
Republicans in general have a problem running for office. Since they don’t like government, it’s hard for them to explain why they want to be part of it. Mitt tries to put a good face on this, talking about smaller government and lower taxes. While he didn’t raise taxes as governor, he did raise fees—a lot. And most people think it’s nit-picking to distinguish between those things. Maybe that’s why Mitt looks anxious on television. Maybe the stress of his contradictions is the reason he talks so fast.
If Mitt were a Democrat he could be proud of running for office and spending almost 20 years doing so. Democrats believe that serving in government is patriotic. And Democrats like experienced politicians, likening them to experienced surgeons. Those are the kind you want when times are tough.
I don’t know what will happen in the Republican primaries in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida, after which the race is apparently over. But if Mitt loses, he ought to seriously consider becoming a Democrat. He’d be only 69 years of age in 2016, young enough to run again.
But it might be too late. If he had jumped ship long ago, that would have been his only flip-flop. Besides, in 2016, there’s a guy named Andrew Cuomo. How could Mitt handle an effective, appealing governor of New York if he can’t handle weirdo Newt?
Downtown View is a regular column by Karen Cord Taylor who founded The Beacon Hill Times weekly newspaper in 1995 and served as its editor and publisher until late 2007. She also founded and served as editor and publisher of the Charlestown Patriot-Bridge and The Back Bay Sun weeklies. Her column appears in those newspapers as well as the Regional Review, which serves Boston’s North End. These weeklies are now owned by the Independent Newspaper Group. She is the author of “Blue Laws, Brahmins and Breakdown Lanes: An Alphabetic Guide to Boston and Bostonians” and the co-author of “The Lady Architects,” a book about three women who practiced architecture in New England and elsewhere in the early 20th century. She lives in downtown Boston and blogs at BostonColumn.com.