Romney Loses: A Cautionary Tale of Inauthenticity
Politics, the desire for power, illuminates a moral tale for us all. Inauthenticity, living a lie, and peddling lies that are believed to be truth is all too common. Living life with an observant eye is a challenge, one that many of us do not wish to do. Our humanness seeks bias, denial, and pride, rather than what is right, and what is humble. As citizens, consumers, as students we are in a constant and perpetual fog of political, social, and relationship games. Sometimes we participate in the games and sometimes live through in the fog. The Republican party revealed this moral once again to us. A party seeking to get back into the White House, many of its members scared, and hungry. When people act based upon fear and being scared they do not do what is right. They speed in their cars and cause a collision in fear of being late. They are scared of having a healthy relationship and only enter unhealthy relationships. They are fearful that others will not accept them and then they create an alternate reality.
Professor, Dr. Jonathan Haidt provides a good view into politics and people. Who highly values each of the following: Care, Liberty, Fairness, Loyalty, Authority, and Sanctity? “Care” means "to feel concern or interest for others. “Liberty” means "freedom”. “Fairness” means “evenhandedness” and is not the same as “equal” in all ways. “Loyalty” means "faithful in carrying out legal obligations”. Authority refers to "those in charge, such as the law or police”. “Sanctity” refers to "the holy, holiness, and what is sacred”. Founded by anti-slavery activists in 1854, the Republican Party highly values each of the items above. Early Republican ideas were: "free labor (no more slavery), free land (no more plantations), free men (liberty for all)". Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican president, elected in 1860.
Who highly values Care, Liberty, and Fairness? Who also values Loyalty, Authority, and Sanctity less? The Democrat Party was started by those that did not like the policies of Alexander Hamilton, one of the Founding Fathers of America. Hamilton and the other Founding Fathers modeled parts of the U.S. government after the Roman Republic. The Roman Republic had three branches of government (a tripartite) and encouraged the “best and brightest” to run the government. Those that started the Democrat Party liked Thomas Jefferson’s ideas of government better. A government that would have a weak central government on purpose. Democrats also preferred the government developed by the ancient Greeks (democracy), rather than the Roman’s republic. In Greece the majority ruled, 51% decided the fate of the other 49%. Democracy was considered by Republicans as “mob rule”. Democrats tend to value care, liberty, and fairness more than loyalty, authority, and sanctity.
Mitt Romeny, the Republican nominee for president, is a prime example of inauthenticity. He changed his stance on issues such as abortion, taxes, health care, education, and many others. His own values were often more aligned with the Democrat party, rather than the Republican party. After a primary season of dirty campaigning, lies, and exaggerations, Mitt Romney was the last man standing. After a few hard punches from Newt Gingrich, Mitt hit back harder. Gingrich, "The Last Conservative Standing", fell. Very similar to how Bill Clinton ended up the Democrat nominee. Clinton is the post-modern archetype of the “inauthentically authentic”. Despite Whitewater, Cattlgate, Nannygate, Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, Coffeegate, Lincoln Bedroom, Web Hubble, Perjury, and many other scandals, Clinton remained inauthentically authentic. The public knew his misdeeds, identified with him, and accepted him. Why? In many ways he was a reflection of the post-modern baby boomers and represented them at the moment they gained political power in America. He felt their pain, a huge lie as no one can feel what someone else feels. The line worked though on a public that believed it or wanted to believe it to be true. If Clinton could feel their pain, imagine how wonderful they could all be if they used the line themselves. This was the Jesusification of America, the post-modern religion. Richard Nixon on the other hand was no Clinton. Nixon came from a different generation and was not eternally embroiled with crime. That is until Watergate and a coverup to protect a political break in to a Democrat campaign office. Lies upon lies did him no good in an environment of baby boomers and hippies rising up in power, a mad dog press, and few friends in his own party. John F. Kennedy is another figure in history, similar to Clinton. Affairs and unfavorable policies put his presidency at risk. The media was not yet as sophisticated as with Nixon and Clinton, so the public did not see his inauthenticity until later in time.
Barak Obama is another key figure in this moral tale. Obama was methodical, connected to the post-modern baby boomers and the “You Generation” (the youth desiring attention, fame, and entitlement). Obama was methodical in his bread and circuses, making sure voters affected by the possible closure of car manufactures knew he was there to save them. He was there for “free” health care. He was there with everyone’s favorite celebrities. Obama built an authentic list of actions based upon the values of the Democrat party. Obama was the Democrat party, and the Democrat party was Obama. The same could not be said for Romney. Mitt Romney was authentic with his business persona, he was business and business was him. We could not say though that Romney was the Republican Party, and the Republican Party was Romney. The problem was that the public wanted a president, not a Chief Executive Officer.
The moral tale of the Romney candidacy is that inauthenticity is noticed and only makes people perceive you worse, even if they agree with you on certain issues. Romney wanted Obama out of office, so did most Republicans. That is not enough to get you elected. There is also an important subplot to the story. Electing someone on a single issue, such as the economy, is not wise. No president deals with only a single issue. Events change all the time and the unforeseen always happens. Terrorist attacks, stock market plunges, war, scandals, and much more make choosing a president on a single issue a bad idea. Many issues, such as the economy, presidents have very little power to influence anyways. Not to mention that Romney, the author of Romneycare (the father of Obamacare), did not bring forth the vigorous discussion on health care that helped Republicans win big in congress in 2010.
Desperation and fear does not help yourself, your causes, your party, nor your country. When we give up our standards we make rash decisions. Life is not an either-or proposition. The either-or fallacy was promulgated by many Mitt Romney supporters. Pundits such as Anne Coulter, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and Michelle Malkin (also known as the Mitt Romney bullies) promised, demanded, and persisted in getting Republicans to accept Mitt Romney as the candidate. It was him, the inevitable, no one else could win against Obama. Romney’s inauthenticity, his 1950’s persona versus his campaign thrashing of other Republican candidates, his flipping around on issues (gun control and more), and some of his liberal views (government run health care), were not authentic to the values of the Republican party, such as Care, Liberty, Fairness, Loyalty, Authority, and Sanctity. Immediately after his election loss these same pundits went on television and the radio and began negatively criticizing Romney, his campaign, and his political positions. Fare-weather friends indeed.
It is challenging to know if Romney knew he was not honest about himself. Did he believe himself? Was he able to see clearly through the fog of politics? Time may reveal the answer. Time may also reveal how Republican pundits that supported Romney, that bullied others into accepting Romney’s inauthenticity and candidacy, are treated. Over time Republicans may learn never to repeat the same error. Republicans may choose authentic individuals that uphold their values, despite any bullying and risk of losing the race. Choosing to be inauthentic in foggy dreams of winning is no way to really win. Winning and losing while authentic, healthy, strong, and humble is the right thing to do. Republicans may here on out be authentic, healthy, strong, and humble and still lose; however, it will not be because they are necessarily wrong in their values, desires, or plans. It will be because their constituency went the way of the dodo bird. Most Americans are center-left, that makes selling a brand that few people want a challenging task. Self-reflection would also help the party see some of their stances on certain issues are not aligned with their own values. Perhaps Republicans stumbled one too many times in order to defeat post-modern ideals or never could really thrive against it anyway. The lessons are many and not necessarily political. Whether you agree with Republicans or not, this is a cautionary tale in inauthentic living.