David Atkins is a keen observer of politics — especially on issues related to global warming. He’s always worth reading. But yesterday at Political Animal, he wrote, Don’t Count Out Mitt Romney. His argument is that Romney could, in fact, be the Republican’s presidential nominee in 2016. I suppose that’s true. But he ended the article with a warning about that possibility, “Progressives would do well to take it more seriously.” Really?!
Let’s start with what progressives would do to take the possibility more seriously. Would we nominate someone different? Would we investigate Romney in more depth than the Obama administration did for the 2012 election? Would we stockpile food and water? Really, it’s just an absurd thought. If the Republicans run Romney again, there is nothing we can do now to prepare for it.
But the truth is that if the Democrats had to run against Romney again, it would make our job easier, not harder. But Atkins seems to think it is otherwise. He wrote, “There are a number of voters out there with buyer’s remorse over their 2012 vote, and Mitt could run on the ‘none of this would have happened if you had voted for me’ platform.” What is the “this” that wouldn’t have happened? Did Atkins not see Friday’s job report? The best prediction for the first nine months of 2016 is that the economy will be doing quite well. So I don’t think Romney is going to have much luck with the “buyer’s remorse” vote.
But let’s suppose the economy is bad. Let’s suppose that 2016 is a repeat of 2008 and there is a total breakdown of the economy. What then? Will Romney be able to win the presidency in that case? Yes! And so would Ted Cruz or even Louie Gohmert, should the Republicans choose to nominate either of these men. Atkins is committing an error that is far beneath him, but which is sadly typical of people who write about politics. He seems to think that Clinton is pretty much unbeatable but that other candidates are more vulnerable. This just isn’t what the political science tells us.
In this regard, I would be thrilled if the Republicans nominated Mitt Romney. As Republicans go, he’s one of the more reasonable ones. He would listen to Greg Mankiw on economic policy, and we would end up with far more Keynesian stimulus than we’ve ever gotten under Obama. (Greg Mankiw, of course, is always against Keynesian economics when a Democrat is in the White House.) Yes, overall, Romney would be terrible. But worse than Rand Paul or Ted Cruz? I don’t think so.
Given that we are really dependent upon the vagaries of the economy, I don’t see any reason why I should take Mitt Romney 2016 more seriously. Mitt Romney continues to be a joke. And if the Republicans nominate him, well, they nominate him. Let’s hope that the economy continues to do well so we can watch him go down in flames again and talk about how he lost because the Democrats gave poor people things, even while his entire campaign was about promising things to the rich and the old.
What I really want is for my fellow liberals to stop thinking the presidential elections depend so much on candidates. In addition to this simply being wrong, it has bad effects. It means that the Democratic Party continues to push moderate to conservative candidates like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama in years where literally any Democrat would win. If we would get past the idea of “electability,” we could get some actual liberals in the White House. What an idea!