Why independent who didn’t vote for Romney before might now
I am a registered independent and am a currently undecided Massachusetts voter. I have never voted for a Republican over a Democrat - ever. I've voted Democratic in every presidential election since I was first eligible to in 1972. Nevertheless, when an old friend who lives in California recently asked me why I believe Mitt Romney was essentially a good governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007 (even though I didn't vote for him), I had to come to terms with the fact that I am leaning toward voting for him for President.
I am ashamed of the negative campaign Barack Obama is running in 2012. I should also admit that I was a Hillary Clinton supporter in the last election cycle, and it still bothers me that Obama torpedoed possible public financing of elections to insure his 2008 campaign. To be frank, I'm more impressed by what politicians do rather than what they say. I think I already know what they'll say, and spend, to get to where they aspire to be politically; and that is, sadly, just about anything.
However, I believe the President can be distinguished from the current Republican nominee for his failure to compromise with his inevitable opposition in Congress rather than produce results, as Romney found it possible to do as governor of the bluest of states. So I am not going to diminish the former governor's greatest accomplishment: Romneycare, even if few of his supporters or detractors can manage to describe it as a political plus. In fact, I owe a personal debt of gratitude for the state's enactment of what became the national model for health care reform legislation; and I am proud that it has afforded medical insurance to many people whose well-being once suffered without it.
I believe Romney is an ethical and highly principled individual, maybe even a 'wicked straight arrow,' as we might say in Boston. While I don't know much about his family's Mormon religion beyond the stereotypes, I do respect its apparent influence on him. His faith has privately inspired many services and great generosity to individuals and families and charitable organizations in need. So it doesn't bother me that Romney is wealthy, even if I've never been farther from it.
As governor, Romney eliminated a massive budget deficit and left Massachusetts with a large surplus. He raised business taxes and was effective at closing corporate tax loopholes. He frequently intervened to try to keep or attract large employers in the state.
But why wouldn't he be good at these things? He knows where they bury the bodies from his own long experience in business. (I'm not sure I've seen the evidence, let alone any coherent plan, to indicate that President Obama has a clue.)
If we ever needed a chief executive steeped in business experience in the Oval Office, there might never be a better time to give it a try - unless he is the 'vulture capitalist' opponents insist Romney really is. But I'm not buying that portrait as readily as I did when it was first painted during his quixotic Senate race against Ted Kennedy in 1994. Not yet anyway.
I think Romney did the right thing when he forced out former state Senate President Billy Bulger from the presidency of the University of Massachusetts after Bulger invoked the Fifth Amendment rather than tell a congressional committee what he knew about the whereabouts of his accused mass-murdering fugitive brother. He created a program to reward the top 25 percent of high school graduates with free tuition for public higher education in our commonwealth. He's personally 'pro-life,' I guess. But, as governor, he protected the state's pro-choice status quo. He signed a permanent ban on assault weapons, legislation to boost military and veteran's benefits, and an effective law cracking down on repeat drunk drivers.
I could go on (and my friend didn't even ask me what I don't like about Romney). But neither did he ask me to make a case for or against the incumbent President whom I am reconsidering. In any event, this election will not be an easy call for me. Maybe I'll indulge another voting first by supporting a third-party candidate instead of either of the majors. We shall see after they complete their three face-to-face debates in the final weeks of the campaign.
Dan Currie lives in Dorchester, Mass.