I am seriously running out of ways to express my incredulity at this election. It seems that people have given up even trying to defend Mitt Romney's ever-changing stances and are just saying, "You don't like this current Romney? Don't worry, he'll change into whatever you want after the election and be great! Trust us!" They can't defend his views because they can't nail any of them down without them changing the next day.
If his constant flip-flopping and contortions during the campaign are any indication, his presidency would be a rubber stamp for dangerous, regressive policies put forward in this year's Republican Party Platform, whose sections on social issues were written by Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center deems a hate group.
The danger of a malleable Mitt Romney has been a common theme this election cycle, and for good reason. Romney has proven that whatever his core values are, they aren't strong enough to buck the rightward trend of his party.
Even Romney's choice of a running mate, Paul Ryan, should give sane and educated voters pause. Paul Ryan is the perfect face of today's extreme GOP, seeking to hide extreme social conservatism under talk of supposed conservative fiscal views. His record echoes that of the Republican legislators in power in Congress and in states across this country, and it is reflected in the party's 2012 platform. Republicans claim to be all about the economy and jobs, yet their actions and legislative records speak of a different agenda: to push our country's social progress back decades by attacking women's rights, LGBT rights and the social safety net that are part of the very fabric of our country. And anyone who thinks a strong-willed vice president and a vocal party can't shape a malleable president needs only to look back three short years ago, to the influence of Vice President Dick Cheney on President George W. Bush. Sometimes a vice president isn't even a heartbeat away from the presidency.
Even supporters of Romney are now trying desperately to spin his lack of moral certainty as a good thing. Conservative columnist David Brooks tried his best at this game in The New York Times in a rather shocking endorsement of Romney entitled "The Upside of Opportunism." Yes, in this new Romneyverse, political opportunism should be praised as a good thing in leaders, with Brooks actually saying, "Romney is more of a flexible flip-flopper than Obama. He has more influence over the most intransigent element in the Washington equation House Republicans. He's more likely to get big stuff done." Somehow the impossible leap from flip-flopper to strong leader able to wrangle intransigence happens in the space of one sentence.
That same argument was the basis of the Log Cabin Republicans' endorsement of Romney. Among other anti-gay stances, Romney signed the National Organization for Marriage's pledge to support a federal constitutional amendment banning marriage equality, force a referendum on marriage equality in Washington, D.C., appoint anti-equality federal judges, defend DOMA in courts and create a panel on ''religious freedom'' to address the imaginary assault on Christians. Yet despite his long history of anti-LGBT views, the Log Cabin Republicans decided that Romney's malleability was a good thing and that his lack of conviction would really work out for us all in the end, saying that the NOM pledge was simply "an empty promise made to a vocal but shrinking constituency. ... In our judgment, the NOM pledge is ultimately merely symbolic and thus should not be the basis of a decision to withhold an endorsement."
That's right: They honestly call a signed pledge an "empty promise." Of course, don't tell NOM that, because they endorsed Romney because of his pledge to them. The argument for Romney has become: "You can't really trust anything he says, so just trust that he'll flip-flop in the direction you want." That's an interesting knot to tie oneself into.
As for a post-election Romney, does anyone honestly think he won't be driven by the extreme fringe currently controlling the GOP? He's going to suddenly grow a bipartisan moral compass and buck the party he needs to support him so that he can get reelected for a second term? If he'll act like he's acted during this election just to get into office, what makes you think he'll be any different as he tries to stay in office?
Talk about "leading from behind."
In Romney's new political world, lying, lack of leadership, directionless pandering and moral ambiguity aren't things to run from but things to embrace. Forgive me if I don't simply "trust" that Romney and the extreme voices running the GOP will suddenly break out in enlightenment and bipartisan handholding after a contentious election.
When things like my basic rights and equality as an American are at stake, I prefer to base my vote on policy and facts, not those "empty promises" touted by Romney's supporters.