In a New York magazine piece this week, Benjamin Wallace-Wells eulogizes Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. The headline pretty much sums it up: “So long, Mitt: In love with America, terrified for its future, relegated to its past.” But in the final paragraph, Wallace-Wells made a good observation about Romney’s lasting legacy as the GOP nominee. “[J]ust a week after Romney seemed poised to become president,” he writes, “there is no segment of the Republican Party that could be called Romneyist.” That’s part of the reason why he lost.
Many times during the campaign, I slammed Romney for his ideological promiscuity. His flip-flopping was a character flaw that engendered mistrust among the Republican base and disbelief among the general electorate. As I wrote last month, politicians changing their minds on a core issue isn’t uncommon and should be respected. What Romney did during his six years running for president was change his mind on everything.
Romney’s change of position on abortion, gay rights, gun control, immigration, climate change, his own health care law — collectively, they called into question whether he had a core at all. They also made it impossible for those who believed in the former Massachusetts governor to point to anything he really believed in. That’s why there’s no discernable Romney philosophy from 2012 that will define the Republican Party for decades to come. That’s why there are no Romneyites.
In the end, what befell Romney is his problem, not his party’s. Everyone knows where the GOP stands, even if they haven’t a clue where Romney does.