Iowa’s vote Tuesday clearly showed one thing—Mitt Romney isn’t the darling of the conservative GOP base. Part of Romney’s problem is that while he keeps claiming he is as conservative as all his Republican opponents, he doesn’t seem to understand the definition of “conservative”.
Last month in an MSNBC interview, Romney defended the individual health insurance mandate he supported in Massachusetts when he was governor. His state health care reform program has been correctly tagged with being the father of President Obama’s health care reform because central to both is the requirement that most individuals must purchase health insurance.
Realizing that his health insurance mandate is one of his Achilles’ heels of his Presidential hopes, Romney is spinning the individual mandate as “conservative” as long as state’s do the mandating. “The best idea is to let each state craft their own solution because that’s, after all, the heart of conservatism: to follow the Constitution,” Romney said.
Romney’s effort to confuse the public on this issue is understandable. Is he trying to say that he is conservative because he believes in following the Constitution? Well, so does everybody else. We just need the courts to figure out what is constitutional and what isn’t. Then we all follow the Constitution. So I guess we’re all conservatives by that definition.
But what Romney is really trying to get the GOP voters to buy is that “conservatism” is the same thing as the principle of “states' rights”. But the two aren’t the same. Using this Romney definition of “conservatism”, every action by state government is conservative. If every state wanted to dump their constitutionally mandated “no deficit spending” policies and run up big budget deficits, that would be “conservative” under Romney’s definition.
As one of my Tea Party friends put it in when I shared Romney’s comments with him, “Mitt obviously has no idea what conservative means.”