Recently, Newsweek magazine had a cover article picturing Mitt Romney with the headline: “Romney: The Wimp Factor. Is He Just Too Insecure to be President?”
It’s not a fantastic article. It basically mentions Romney as a flip-flopper and someone who doesn’t represent conservative ideals well. But, if you’re paying attention to politics, that's old news.
(Frankly, I think I could have done a better job with the topic, but that might be my ego talking. I also think I can be the GM of the Cleveland Indians; and I’m still a little surprised that I wasn’t offered a role in The Expendables 2, what with this fabulous physique and suave, devil-eyed glare).
But, I’m sure liberals will enjoy the article referencing the Republican nominee as a "wimp." I’m also sure Republicans will either head back to their loud, usually-baseless assertion that the liberal media is trying to destroy them, or fire back with some quip about Obama being a wimp himself. Because, in politics these days, the “I know you are, but what am I” system of maturity we’ve come to expect is both predictable, and one that keeps us on the playground instead of running the school like we used to.
For me, the article fixed my brain on one word, though; and it had less to do with labeling Mitt Romney and more to do with the tale it tells about our entire nation. And that word was “wimp.”
Democrats are consistently seen as wimps. I would guess a common assessment of their party, if you boiled it down, would be that their (bleeding) hearts are in the right places but they’re too weak to stand up to aggressors, foreign and domestic. Their reputation is one of caving in, warranted or not. And, trust me, in the mess we’re in, they are not without blame in the least.
Republicans, on the other hand, are completely paranoid about Americans being seen as wimps. It may be the entire psychological basis for their identity. Since the days of Teddy Roosevelt the Republican trademark has always been, “Walk tall and carry a big stick.” Updated for the parlance of our times, that sentence should now be, “Walk tall and carry a howitzer.”
(Of course, I don’t need a howitzer, what with these “guns” I’m carrying around. *flex*)
So the GOP does not take kindly to the perception of wimpitude. Their stance on the Communists was to never show weakness to a foreign entity; and that carried them all the way through the Presidency of Ronald Reagan, the silky-smooth songs of John “bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb-Iran” McCain, and, yes, the candidacy and authorship of Mitt “No Apologies” Romney.
These are strong belief systems based on proud, patriotic, never-wavering abstracts and rhetoric to ensure we are always perceived as the national equivalent of Superman.
I really can’t argue whether a position of military strength is best as a foreign policy choice. I suppose the appearance of aggression derails anyone from thinking you’re a wimp, if not opening the concern that they might find you a bully. And I can understand the GOP’s concern for not wanting to appear weak abroad.
But, you know what? I think the modern GOP is a bunch of wimps anyway; from Romney all the way down.
Because, if you don’t want to appear as though you’re a wimp, you can’t limit that distinction to foreign policy. You have to portray that strength by taking care of your own at home.
And the current GOP seemingly has no plans for that.
Instead of working on compromise to strengthen the middle class or fix the myriad of broken portions of our infrastructure, they’ve made it their stated, “single, most important goal” for two years now to stand in the way of anything the President proposes to beat him in November. It’s in their voice, and on their resume:
Stand up to the Tea Party when it came to never compromising on the raising the debt ceiling—which meant paying bills we’ve already rung up? Nope.
Put forth bills to reform corporate pollution using the cap-and-trade policies they invented? No way. Let’s get rid of the EPA entirely. Besides, climate change isn’t real anyway.
Raise revenue for the government by returning tax rates to what they were under Clinton, which helped result in a surplus? Absolutely not. You’re a class warrior if you believe that. Now look over here while we lower taxes for the rich and raise them on the middle class.
Think that union “thugs” are bullies? No reforms here. Pass some legislation to do away with the bargaining process entirely.
Democrats have a jobs plan? A Cyber security plan? Motions for SuperPACs to disclose more information? Filibuster! Filibuster! Filibuster!
Should we cut government spending? Yes! Yes! Yes! But don’t touch the Defense Budget! Never! Never! Never!
Because nothing says “prevent foreign invasion” like a hundred battleships armed to the teeth stopping a determined evil horde from crossing our crumbling bridges and drinking our flaming water, right?
I realize some people think that never compromising is somehow a position of strength. It’s not. Not in the long term. When it goes on as long as it has, it’s a position of ignorance and stupidity. Nobody in their right mind gets cancer and says, “The best way to beat cancer is to keep my chin up and wait it out.”
I can totally understand the GOP's concern for abuse within the systems of welfare, health care, unions, etc. And if they want to disagree with the Dems' proposals that's fine-- that's even expected.
But too often instead of proposing reforms—some of which were their own ideas to begin with—their attitude is to wipe the slate clean, or to never get the ball rolling in the first place. And they have catered to the Tea Party and Libertarian arms of their party which call for “every man for himself’ instead of a government by the people, working for the people.
Sorry, GOP. That isn’t the way to look like Superman. That’s actually the philosophy of the Joker.
If we really, truly want the rest of the world to look at America and think of us in the abstract as unflinchingly strong, we have to incorporate the way we protect and strengthen ourselves at home. If we're going to talk about appearances, we can't have a Congress with the approval rating of Howard the Duck.
That means two parties, working together; occasionally disagreeing and digging in their heels, but working towards “how” we solve problems, and not “if.”
And that can't happen if the GOP is going to be the party of "no."