Romney should pick a direction, stick with it

Rep. Michele Bachmann may not have a firm grip on reality. She may believe that it is possible to “pray the gay away.” Heck, she may even lead witch hunts against hard-working Muslim Americans she believes to be part of the Muslim brotherhood.

The one thing that can be confidently said about Bachmann is that she sticks to her guns. Bachmann may not share your beliefs, but she must be respected for sticking to a core set of ideals, even under intense pressure from opponents.

Unfortunately for Republicans, Mitt Romney was born without a core.

Since the minute he entered public life as a Massachusetts senatorial candidate in 1993, Romney’s stances on issues have been tracked, and the results are troubling. On dozens of issues, Romney has flip-flopped his view to fit the relevant audience.

The most glaringly obvious transformation is on health care. In 2005, then-Gov. Romney signed a bill dubbed “Romneycare,” requiring state residents to purchase health care through an individual mandate.

The move was popular in the blue state he called home. It also became a model for President Barack Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act legislation passed in 2010. The Center for American Progress Action Fund went as far as to say that Obamacare and Romneycare “share the goal of expanding access to quality health care. And both laws contain the same building blocks.”

Last spring, Romney faced a tough race in the Republican presidential primaries, seeking conservative votes in red states. His view on health care reform took a sharp right, and he promised a full repeal of Obamacare.

In the current general election, Romney is seeking the votes of all Americans, especially swing-state moderates. This has caused him to take a soft left and just last week claimed, “I’m not getting rid of all health care reform.”

Like health care, the issue of a woman’s right to choose has been a long and winding road for Romney. During his 1994 campaign against Ted Kennedy, Romney said, “I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country.”

This remained his position of record throughout his time as governor. However, in a not-so-shocking turn of events, Romney wrote “I am pro-life” in a June 2011 op-ed for The National Review. This was at a time when he was revving up his presidential campaign engine for the far-right-dominated Republican primaries.

Sure, Obama has evolved on issues like gay marriage. The difference is that marriage equality is an issue evolving in this country still. In fact, a July Pew Research Poll found that 48 percent of Americans now support marriage equality, which is up a staggering 17 percentage points from 2004 results.

The list of Romney’s flip-flops could fill this entire newspaper. What’s clear, though, is that whether he is shifting left or veering right, Romney’s beliefs are not guided by core principles. It is more likely that he is guided by the politically savvy GPS system in his campaign bus.

I can almost picture the soft, New England accent of his Garmin guiding him to take major stances on important policy issues.

As he enters Texas, it might whisper, “In 8 miles, turn right and release a statement affirming that you will repeal Obamacare.”

After making a wrong turn into California, it will begin to recalculate and say, “Make a U-turn and retract your belief that global warming is real.”

In all seriousness, the next president will be faced with an array of tough situations. These will be problems that no amount of advice or public opinion polling can solve. These will be lonely moments in which the commander-in-chief will only be guided by his internal compass to what is “right.”

Right now Mitt Romney is asking voters to believe in him and “Believe in America” by electing him president.

He may very well be the next president and feel the need to install that same GPS system in Air Force One. Before allowing that to happen, though, voters must realize that there is a difference between a vague, people-pleasing candidate and a president leading without principles.

The point of a democracy is to elect leaders whose values reflect those of the electorate.

Mr. Romney has made a career out of reflecting the values of who he is talking to at any given time.

How can Americans be expected to strongly believe in Mitt Romney when Mitt Romney doesn’t strongly believe in anything?

John is a junior in Media. He can be reached at [email protected]