Saturday, December 30, 2006

Learning and growth is not a liability for a Chief Executive.

Ok... I want you to think back almost exactly 12 years. Where were you? What did you think?

More importantly, how well had you developed your personal political ideology? What were the important issues of the day? Did you consider yourself liberal or conservative? What did "liberal" and "conservative" mean 12 years ago?

For me, I was 13... not a great age to consider deep ideas on political standing. But, I don't care if you are 25 or 125 today... I sure hope you have learned something since 1994. I sure have.

But, that is not the real point... just food for thought...

For the past few weeks, the Boston Globe and some other groups have been hammering potential Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney for his positions on Gay Rights and Abortion. Today, these are the political buzzwords of the Republican Party. Don't get me wrong: I think they are VERY important issues. But, we cheapen both the problem and the solution if we are stuck in buzzword politics.

Honestly, I am currently riding high on the Mitt Romney bandwagon. I think he is, by far, the most qualified and impressive of the current and potential candidates for President of the United States.

I have been asked by a few friends about Mitt Romney's positions on Abortion and Gay Rights. So, I think I'll give you MY take on what is going on.

One of the most impressive things about Mitt Romney: he honestly learns. He is a man of principle and values, but he also is open to learn from the ideas of others. Honestly, he is one of the smartest executives I have ever met or studied. Yet, he is humble enough to know (and admit) that he doesn't know everything.

On Abortion, Mitt is quite open about the day he changed his mind to be firmly Pro-Life. Since his first attempt to run for Senate in 1994, Mitt's outlook on the abortion debate has grown. Being from Massachusetts, he was a little wary of the issue with a very liberal constituency. So, as governor, he had promised to maintain the status quo. But, he is very open about the day he changed his mind:

Romney says he did have an epiphany, and he's explicit about the exact moment. "[S]everal years ago, in the course of the stem-cell-research debate, I met with a pair of experts from Harvard," he told National Review Online's Kathryn Lopez. "At one point the experts pointed out that embryonic stem cell research should not be a moral issue because the embryos were destroyed at 14 days. After the meeting I looked over at ... my chief of staff, and we both had exactly the same reaction—it just hit us hard just how much the sanctity of life had been cheapened by virtue of the Roe v. Wade mentality. And from that point forward, I said to the people of Massachusetts, 'I will continue to honor what I pledged to you, but I prefer to call myself pro-life.'" (I can't remember exactly where this paragraph was quoted from, but I admit openly that it is not from my memory... I'll find a better citation).

I respect him greatly for allowing his ideas and motives to develop. Up until he was Governor, he was a successful businessman and he had never been forced to make a clear statement on Abortion issues. I get the impression that he has always been wary of the idea, but didn’t want to touch the issue politically. I mean, as a candidate for Governor why would you bring up the one hot issue that could derail the rest of your promises to your constituency? In his campaigns, he promised to maintain the status quo as desired by the majority of voters in Massachusetts (I know... it's sad, but sometimes you make the best of a wrong constituency, and get done what you can).

As time went on, he realized that he really did have a strong belief on the issue. He is smart enough to understand how hot the issue is, but he is openly and repeatedly dedicated to a value system that respect’s LIFE (not necessarily the magazine). And, that has helped him formulate a position on Abortion that I find quite agreeable. I think he was wrong in 1994.

On Abortion, Mitt Romney admits that he was not always a “Reagan Republican”… but, then again, Reagan was not always a “Reagan Republican.”

I liked this quote from him in a recent interview about his admiration of President Reagan (the poor guy can't even celebrate Christmas with his family without a bunch of interviews. This political world ain't no picnic):

"When I was running for office for the first time in 1994, I was trying to define who I was, not who I wasn’t. I was trying to define that I was an individual who had his own views and perspectives and I wasn’t a carbon copy of someone else. I’ve said since, and continue to reiterate, that one of my heroes is Ronald Reagan. I’ve been asked time and again in interviews, who are your heroes? And I mention Ronald Reagan and Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower among others as some of my favorite heroes, and I feel that deeply. But I am a different person than any other person and my interest is, of course, looking forward to defining who I am.

Of course, now there’s no need for me to try to define myself in reference to others. I’ve got a record. And people can look at my record and see, for instance, that when people were clamoring to raise taxes in Massachusetts, I said “no” and we held the line on taxes, and held the line and borrowing, and we balanced our budget. They can see that I vetoed literally hundreds of line items in budgets because I thought there was too much spending. They can see that I fought for better schools. They can see that I fought for a better environment. And they can recognize that a lot what Ronald Reagan was doing I’m also doing. So I’m pretty proud to follow in his legacy, if you will, recognizing, of course, that there’s some differences. He’s just a lot better than anyone else I know."
Governor Mitt Romney, Human Events, Robert B. Bluey, 12-28-2006,

Personally, I find it impressive that Mr. Romney has grown into a position. Over the course of 12 years, including very successful years running businesses and organizing the 2002 Winter Olympics, he has developed a political view that can take American forward. And, once he has a chance to share his ideas, I think more people will like the way he thinks.

On a similar vein, there have been a lot of discussions about Mitt’s position on Gay Rights and Gay Marriage. The Boston Globe ran an article saying that because Mitt promised in 1994 to defend basic rights for people who practice homosexuality, he must be hypocritical when he tries to defend Marriage as an institution between a man and a woman.

The most important thing to remember about those two concepts: RIGHTS FOR GAYS AND GAY MARRIAGE ARE NOT THE SAME THING. The Boston Globe has been hammering Mitt because he asserted that people who practice homosexuality deserve basic human rights. And, they assume that Marriage and Gay Rights are the same.

According to Mitt (and I agree with him): they are not the same thing. People who practice homosexuality deserve equal treatment under the law in cases of employment and other potential discrimination. But, Marriage between a man and a woman is an institution that exists to bring children into the world and rear them to be healthy participants in society. And, studies always show that children need influence from both a Mother and a Father for the most effective social and emotional development.

Statistically, homosexual parents are no more effective than single parent households in child rearing. Of course, there are good parents who are single, just as there are good parents who are homosexual. I laud their success against the odds, but I assert that they are the exeption, not the rule. Incidents of crime and other social issues fall dramatically among children reared in households with both a mother and a father. By institutionalizing any other form of marriage, we would be encouraging a less-effective form of child-rearing.

The point is: Mitt believes that all people and all life deserve respect and rights. “All people” includes unborn children and even people who practice homosexuality. Mitt knows that every person is important, regardless of race, religion, or sexual preference. But, he is firm on the fact that marriage is an institution between a man and a woman, and should remain that way for the benefit of children and society as a whole. That has been his position in Massachusetts (for which he is continuing to fight, to the last day in office). That would be his position as a candidate for president.

Mitt Romney is not an intolerant Repbulican. But, he sticks by basic values.

Mitt Romney is a conservative; he is a very smart conservative; he is a very REAL conservative. And, a lot of these attacks are just other candidates trying to “kill him in the cradle” before he gets off the ground.

So, if you are hearing a lot of negative buzz about Mitt Romney, I think you should wait and see. Give him a chance to come out and make his case. Don't let the Boston Globe or anybody else define Mitt Romney for you. Take a look at who he IS. And, I'd expect to hear a lot more from him after... oh... January 8th or so.

That is my rant for the New Year. Happy Holidays... and don't jump to conclusions too quickly.

That is all.