I’m an Independent. I voted for Bush in 2000 and Obama in 2008. The 2012 presidential election is about voters like me — voters who can see the good and the bad in both parties, and therefore are open to persuasion by either. One advantage of not being an ideologue or a partisan loyalist is that sometimes you see where the electorate is trending before true believers do.
What I see is that a series of debates among prospective Republican presidential nominees has revealed most of the field to be unsuited to high office. It was obvious early on. Before Michele Bachmann confused John Wayne with serial-killer John Wayne Gacy. Before Herman Cain told the unemployed to blame themselves. Before Morning Joe played Meatloaf’s song, “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” to introduce a segment on Rick Perry’s latest gaffe.
Each of the alternatives to Mitt Romney has had his or her 15 minutes of fame, and most have been revealed as presidential disasters in the making. Now the last, best hope of right-wingers who oppose Governor Romney is Newt Gingrich, a brilliant but narcissistic former Georgia congressman who Barack Obama would eat alive in the general election. As each un-Romney is tested, the necessity of selecting the former Massachusetts governor becomes increasingly obvious: Either the Republican Party embraces Romney as its nominee, or the party loses.
It’s not that Jon Huntsman doesn’t have good ideas or Ron Paul isn’t a man of principles, it’s just that the core of the Republican Party is way out of step with what most of the electorate wants. The electorate doesn’t want the welfare state to be dismantled, it wants the system to be fixed. It doesn’t want to deregulate markets, it wants to be protected against market excesses. And it doesn’t want more of that old Reagan magic, because that’s part of the reason why median household incomes haven’t budged in 30 years.
What the electorate wants is a centrist who will make America work again, in all the senses of that term. A successful businessman and governor is the obvious prescription, and Romney has the vital qualification of having run before for the presidency — so he knows how to avoid mistakes all the other prospective nominees will make (or already have made). If you’re a Republican and this posting makes you mad, then ignore me and help the party nominate someone other than Romney. I’ll just vote for Obama again. And so will enough other voters to hand Democrats the White House for four more years.