Saturday, January 15, 2011

BOTW - Mitt Romney and the Case for American Greatness

     This weeks Book of the Week is Mitt Romney's text from last year - No Apology: The Case for American Greatness. In this roller coaster of a ride, Romney takes us on a journey through what he views as the major issues facing american society today. From the military, to the state of the family Romney gives his two cents and his recommendations on what to do. Though I am in no sense a Republican - something that many will wonder when they see what next weeks BOTW is - and am instead a political moderate, I found myself agreeing with this self styled moderate on many issues.

     Romney begins his book with a glance at history, something that we should keep in mind as the book progresses. Four Empires - the Ottomans, Chinese, Portuguese/Spanish, and British - are looked at, with the reason for the declines of each society pointedly made clear. For the Ottomans, Romney states,
The Ottomans' growing isolation from the dynamic world of manufacture and trade was reinforced by the conviction that their holy scriptures provided all the knowledge that was necessary; foreign technology was infidel technology."
       Remember this reasoning for the future. According to Romney, the Ottomans heavy reliance upon its religious texts instead of an analysis of the real world is what led to their overall decline. The other five civilizations: the Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, and British also failed as empires because they did something similar to the Ottomans - they isolated themselves from the outside world.

     It is with this context of innovation and closed mindedness that Romney begins his book. He asserts that the United States must spend more money on its national defense because of the threats from China, Russia, and jihadists. He asserts that economically, we must reduce the tax load on corporations so that they may provide jobs for the country. This is no surprise, these are typical Republican platforms. It is his thoughts on healthcare and the environment that are surprisingly refreshing.

     On healthcare, Romney upholds the Massachusetts model - the model that the current healthcare reform was built upon. An exchange of sorts that all citizens would be required to purchase insurance, some at a discounted rate, with the ultimate goal of complete coverage. But to Romney, the reform pioneered by Mass. is not enough. There must also be Tort reform as well as other private sector reforms that must take place. To Romney, his model provided that all citizens would have healthcare, but the real issue came when it was necessary to discuss the increasing costs of healthcare.

     On the Environment and Energy, Romney surprised me a great deal. For instead of the traditional conservative mantra "Drill baby Drill" he took a different approach. First, he recognized that the free market was not at work in the energy sector, and thus there can be no "free market" solutions. The oil lobby gets heavily subsidized and exert too much control in Washington today. For him, Global Warming, though he is not sure whether it is human caused, is an issue and must be dealt with in an appropriate way. That same way must encourage our society to move away from our oil based economy and instead depend upon more energy efficient and clean energy sources.

    It is the last section of the book that gives me pause though, and one where he contradicts himself from his earlier chapter about the Ottoman Empire. In the second to last chapter he states that he believes marriage is between one man and one woman; a position presumably taken because of his Mormon faith. Though he does not come out and say it as such, there is no denying that the large opposition to marriage equality is because of religious objections and such texts and the Koran and the Bible. How does this basis of intolerance towards a people group not remind him of the Ottoman empires lack of openness about things that its "religious texts" may have issue with. I think that he may be missing the forest for the trees. He can see, from hindsight that the downfall of the Ottoman empire was this focus on its religious texts, yet cannot see that he is doing the same thing when it comes to marriage equality. That for one makes me very hesitant to ever voting for him.

     All in all, I would encourage all of you to read this mans work; for he does do an excellent job laying out his ideas and goals. This is important, for he is possibly one of the contenders for the Republican party in the 2012 presidential race; thus it may be a good idea to see why he believes what he believes.

1 comment:

  1. Nice piece! Thanks for writing it! I enjoyed the book as well and might pick up another copy as a gift for a friend when it comes out in paperback February 1st.

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