“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’” –Ronald Reagan
“My promise…is to help you and your family” –Mitt Romney
Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech last night was not about liberty. But then, neither is his concept of the role of government. Rather than promising to get out of our way, he promised to meddle in our affairs more capably than Obama. Experience shows us that he is certainly more capable, and conservatives are betting that his brand of tinkering will take us in a better direction than that of the current fiddler-in-chief.
As Romney spoke of his five-step plan to create twelve million jobs, freedom lovers everywhere were no doubt reminded of some of the many infamous five-year plans of the past. He must not have been listening to Marco Rubio’s introduction speech. Does he not understand that government cannot create the jobs that drive economies? Can he not see that conservative central planning can be as damaging as progressive central planning?
He spoke of repealing and replacing Obamacare. Replacing? With what, another government plan? Has he considered getting government out of the healthcare business and letting market forces work to bring down cost and improve care?
He spoke of forging new trade agreements that would have “unmistakable consequences” for those nations who “cheat in trade”. Can Mr. Romney explain to us how a country can cheat in trade? By selling us goods at lower prices? By “stealing” low value, labor intensive assembly line work so we can do more productive work and improve the quality of life for everyone willing to trade with us?
He spoke of the things we “deserve” as Americans, reflecting and reinforcing the attitude of entitlement that too many Americans, hardworking or not, have adopted. Should he not instead remind us of our responsibilities as Americans?
To be fair, it should be noted that this speech was not intended to sway libertarians. It was aimed at women, young people, and disillusioned moderates who bought the “Hope and Change” line four years ago. Its paternalistic tone will appeal to many who place more value on security than on freedom, and that’s probably what it will take to get elected.
And there were bright spots, as he spoke of school choice, a strong military, more reasonable regulations and lower taxes on businesses. He gave us a glimpse into his family life, showing us his softer side and love for his wife and kids. He made a good case that he is an honorable, capable person who will roll up his sleeves and do the hard work necessary to get a big job done. And by letting others in the room praise him for his humanitarian work and his business acumen, he showed us a humility that many would like to see return to the White House.
I will vote for Mitt Romney. His values align with mine more than do Obama’s. He is a better manager and more capable leader than president Obama. Putting him in office means removing Obama from office, and that will be a very good thing. I very much like Mitt Romney. But Mitt Romney is no Ronald Reagan.