by JONATHAN HICKS, The Amsterdam News
It’s hard not to feel a little sorry for Mitt Romney.
The former Massachusetts governor was supposed to have been coasting to the Republican nomination by now. Armed with the muscle of unimaginable millions in campaign money, he was supposed to have won a long string of primaries by now. He expected that the nomination would be all his by this stage of the game. By now, there would be nothing to think about except beating Barack Obama.
But things have not gone well. Having lost as many primaries as he has won, Romney seems to be in the fight of his life at the moment when just a month ago it would have seemed the most unimaginable of circumstances.
Nationally, he is neck and neck with Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator who just weeks ago was an asterisk in single digits in the polls. And in Michigan, the state where Romney grew up and where his father served as governor, the onetime front-runner is trailing “severely,” to use one his favorite words, behind Santorum.
These are tough times for Romney, the 1 percent candidate who just can’t seem to connect with the average Joe. And for the average Black voter, that connection is even more difficult. Let’s face it: It’s tough for most African Americans to feel a bond with a millionaire who is straining to the point of appearing preposterous to portray himself as a right-wing conservative.
Then there is the matter of Romney’s staff, which has all the racial and ethnic diversity of a city council in a small town in western North Dakota. So pure is his staff in its Whiteness that even J.C. Watts, the conservative African American former congressman from Oklahoma, took Romney to task for having a virtually lily-White campaign staff.
It is a further strain for most African Americans to feel any connection whatsoever to a candidate who is part of a religious organization that banned Black Americans from full participation until 1978, when Romney was 31 years old. Somehow, Romney’s views about the relationship between the Mormon Church and Black America have not been held up to the slightest bit of scrutiny in this campaign.
When asked about it by the late NBC journalist Tim Russert some years ago, Romney talked about the progressive racial views and policies of his father, the late Gov. George Romney. He spoke of his view of the equality of mankind before God, sidestepping how he felt about his church’s position of a second-class membership, which it maintained for generations of African Americans.
However, these lapses appear to be of little to no concern to Romney, the 2012 presidential hopeful, who fails to cater to anything remotely related to the nation’s Black citizens. Instead, Romney is on a desperate, pathetic crusade to convince staunchly conservative Americans that he is indeed one of them.
This is the man who, in 1994 said, “I believe that abortion should be safe and legal in this country,” and reiterated it in 2002. He now says, flatly, that he is opposed to a woman’s right to choose. As governor of Massachusetts, he was the champion of a health care plan that he now demonizes. He once spoke boldly of the contribution that mankind had made to global warming, only now to speak about environmental change as though it were a myth.
These should be core beliefs, not just some tinkering around the edges of some budget plan. If a candidate can change his or her point of view on such bedrock issues as abortion, immigration, health care and global warming, just to name a few, how can a voter view that candidate with any confidence? Just think, if the Republican right were seeking to suppress the Black vote in America, would he sign on to that, too? (In fact, that is precisely what Republican-led legislatures are seeking to do around the country, and Romney has been shamefully silent.)
It’s not so much that Romney is now being upstaged by Santorum, a candidate who is at least authentic in his desire to turn back the gains that have helped so many Americans over the years. It just that is sad to see a man like Romney, so desperate to sit in the Oval Office, that he will reject any past position, change any bedrock conviction and say or do anything to win votes from people whose loyalty he will never truly earn.
Did I say I felt a little sorry for Romney? Come to think of it, maybe not so much.
— Special from The Amsterdam News