More about Mitt

May 25, 2012

The issue of Governor Romney’s experience at Bain is not so much whether anything he did was ethically wrong, or disqualifies him from the presidency; the issue as I see it is his own insistence that his background in venture capitalism is a uniquely valid qualification for the presidency, that he is thereby better suited for the job than someone whose job experience has been primarily political.

Now people have reached the highest office in the land by a number of different paths, including military service (especially in the aftermath of a great war). I don’t think it can be said that any honest job disqualifies a candidate. My point is that even in the golden age of pro-business Republican domination, from the election of McKinley in 1896 down to the Great Depression, most GOP presidents and candidates were primarily politicians – had spent much of their working lives in elective office – and were, I think, quite proud of the fact. McKinley himself had been a congressman for 15 years, then governor; Teddy Roosevelt – well, he had done just about everything; Taft had never been elected to anything but had been a judge, a colonial governor (!) and a cabinet member; Hughes, who almost won in ’16, had been a judge and governor of NY; Harding, a governor and senator; Coolidge, who famously stated that “the business of America is business,” rose through the ranks of Msssachusetts politics to become governor of the state, then VP.

Hoover was the one real instance of someone whose path to the presidency was largely through the private sector, having made a fortune as a mining engineer; however, he then became well known and respected for his work organizing humanitarian activities during and after the First World War, and served in the cabinet during the 1920’s.

As I said, no honest job should be seen as necessarily disqualifying a candidate; but even at its most pro-business, the Republican Party always had a certain respect for public service and political life. Romney, who often seems to be running away from his one term in public office, is something new, the culmination of the post-World War II conservative movement’s delegitimization of government itself. I’m really looking forward to seeing how this plays itself out in the coming campaign.


2 Responses to “More about Mitt”

  1. List of X Says:

    Mitt’s business experience does not disqualify him from becoming president. But his private experience did not make him a good governor (a job most like the president in many senses). At least Romney tries to avoid mentioning his governorship as much as possible as possible, so apparently it was not something he is proud of.

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