Why I would vote for Mitt Romney

5 November 2012

4:58 PM

5 November 2012

4:58 PM

What is the role of a commentator in an election in which he or she cannot vote? And how would I vote tomorrow if I could?

The response of many British journalists to the American elections is to do one of several things. These include becoming either a mystical seer or a partisan hack.

The former have been doing particularly well in this election. People with no notable back catalogue of work on the US keep popping up writing, ‘Why Romney cannot win unless he does X’ pieces, or ‘Why Obama has it in the bag if he does Y’, etc. Few of these seers know what they are talking about. Most are just churning out the received wisdom of their political ‘side’ and will carry on regardless even after repeatedly being proved wrong.

Then there is the partisan hackery which mistakes shilling for a campaign for commentary. The web is now full – from all political sides – of these excuses for journalism. Consider, for example, those hacks who have leaped on any story of any Republican anywhere expressing personal moral concerns over abortion. This is an issue which even if a President Romney wished to address – and he does not – he could not alter. Nevertheless, the ‘Republican war on women’ motif, pumped out by the Obama camp has taken hold and Obama merely has to stand still to receive the benefit. ‘Rape is rape and is always wrong’ he can say, when pushed. When a candidate is handed reaction lines as easy as that then you can tell he is not being fed the tough questions. Ask most non-American voters what they think Romney would do as soon as he got to office and they will come up with some variant of him nationalising all female reproductive organs.

This scare-tactic nonsense makes the bridge between UK / European voters and American Republicans seem unnecessarily wide. But it is wide enough already. For my part I think this is our fault and the main blame does not lie wholly on the Republican side.


Certainly there are criticisms to be made of the Republican party. Among them is the shameful fact that so few experienced, mainstream Republican leaders (and there are many) put themselves forward for this race, preferring to sit it out for 2016. But the divide which is opening up between the view of a substantial number of American voters and the majority of European voters – and, for what it is worth, a substantial number of Conservative MPs – seems to me a problem for Europeans, not American voters.

The Democrat Party seems intent on furthering a model which is collapsing even as they are trying to build it. Europeans may still worship the welfare state, but the model is, at the very least, in remarkably bad health. Deficit and debt habits have been no more of a success in America than in Brown’s Britain or the EU. Yet European political orthodoxy has become so entrenched that we have not only lost the ability to question our orthodoxies, we cannot accept it when they are put up for question by others, as they are at this US election.

Europeans still love Obama because they do not know anything about the detail. He has racked up trillions of dollars of debt for no apparent benefit. He also appears to have no meaningful desire to kick the borrowing habit. The closer you are to Obama’s America, the harder it is to ignore American unemployment, lack of strong growth, drift from the nation’s foundational principles or its increasingly competed-against position in the world. Europeans ought to ask themselves why this President, with all the attributes they admire and adore, is fighting a photo-finish election with the not-terribly loveable Mitt Romney. Is it us, or is it them?

So how would I vote if I were in the States? I am not a follower of party lines there, any more than I am here. I can imagine voting for either party. Had Scoop Jackson won the Democratic Party nomination in the 1970s then I would have given his party my vote. If I had ever had the chance to vote for Daniel Patrick Moynihan then I would have done. If I could vote in Congressional or Senate elections I can imagine nearly as many places where I would vote Democrat as I would Republican.

And as for the Presidency? Though British, I have an interest in an America which is engaged in the world. Mitt Romney has a fine grasp of the issues, and a superb team of advisers and experts behind him. But Obama is not a candidate who it is easy to compete against on these matters. He is no foreign policy ‘dove’ or ‘wet’. On the contrary, much of what Obama has done as President should win him the admiration of foreign policy voters.

It is greatly to the President’s credit that he has increased the use of unmanned drone-attacks in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere. He has used the technology which is the product of Rumsfeld-era Pentagon investment to unceasingly kill America’s enemies. We should be glad to have such an ally. Obama should also be admired for ordering the attack on the Bin Laden compound, deep inside our alleged ‘ally’ Pakistan, causing the death of America’s number one enemy. He should also be congratulated for keeping Guantanamo open and thus for realising in office what he had failed to realise in his campaign: that Guantanamo is an expression of the failure of the current laws of war and not an affront to them.

However, there are severe negatives as well. The Obama administration seems to me to have failed to put America firmly on the right sides during the ‘Arab Spring’. The Muslim Brotherhood – which is, long-term, a far more serious strategic opponent than bin Laden – has been the biggest winner so far of these événements. I see little understanding or desire on the part of the Democratic party leadership to correct the course of this drift.

Though the British press have almost completely ignored it, the Obama administration’s handling of the murder of its ambassador Benghazi has been scandalous. As have been the President and Secretary of State’s comments on the obscure Youtube video used as a pretext for violence against America and her allies.

For these reasons, and others, including a desire to see a more competitive, less statist America, I would vote Mitt Romney tomorrow. But I do not have the vote, and so am left, with a single digit proportion of British voters, simply hoping that tomorrow the American voters choose right.


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Show comments
  • rndtechnologies786

    Nice think.

  • Quboid

    Seems like the rest of America weren’t with you either, Mr Murray. What with blaming the ECtHR for a SIAC decision on Qatada, isn’t it time to consider resigning you post? Or perhaps someone will save our collective embarrassment and sack you.

  • ALLV

    Thank the stars that you cannot vote. I could say more but why?

  • David Lindsay

    I couldn’t care less, as we say over here, which of these two pro-abortion, anti-social justice, pro-war candidates wins, although I expect that the man who failed to close Guantánamo Bay will do so.

    I care about the election or re-election of Bob Casey (Pennsylvania), Joe Manchin (West Virginia), Joe Donnelly (Indiana), Scott Howell (Utah) and Mark Clayton Tennessee) to the Senate, and of Mark Critz (PA-12), Mike McIntyre (NC-7), Brendan Mullen (IN-02), David Crooks (IN-08), Gary McDowell (MI-01, Bart Stupak’s old seat), Eric Stewart (TN-4), Nick Rahall (WV-03), Dan Lipinski (IL-03), Collin Peterson (MN-07), Hayden Rogers (NC-11), Charlie Wilson (OH-06), Chris Henrichsen (WY-01), John Ewing (NE-01), Steve Pestka (MI-03), and above all, the next President of the United States, Marcy Kaptur (OH-09) to the House of Representatives.

    All except Kaptur (for some reason – for my money, she’s the best of the lot) are the ones endorsed by Democrats for Life of America. Kaptur is just amazing: a pro-life battler and a Progressive Caucus member, who declined to endorse either Obama or Clinton in 2008 because neither was offering anything to her electors whose jobs had been destroyed by the “free” trade agreements that, like Stupak, she has become prominent in seeking to repeal.

    A pro-life woman seeking the Democratic nomination has happened before. But never on a full platform of policies. And certainly never from the economically populist, anti-war Left. 70 she may be in 2016, but bring her on.

  • victor67

    A superb team advising him Like John Bolton? You should take up comedy.
    Its 4 more years of BHO and a squeeze on Bibi and the greater Israel project.

  • Christopher Ward

    “He has used the technology which is the product of Rumsfeld-era Pentagon investment to unceasingly kill America’s enemies.” Including a 16 year old child (an American no less, albeit one with brown skin) named Abddulrahman al-Awlaki, whose extrajudicial murder via drone was justified by the Obama White House thus:

    “I would suggest [he should have had] a far more responsible father.”

    Murray doesn’t even try to justify the moral and legal implications of extrajudicial killings, let alone the extrajudicial killing of children. His failure to speak of this notorious example (only one of many) is conspicuous by its absence, but predictable.

    In Murray’s moral universe it’s only a crime if *they* do it to us. As he famously quipped on QUESTION TIME: “We are better than them, we don’t have to show it.”

    This moral infantilism is grotesque.

    • James Martin

      What do you expect? Neoconservatives, like Murray, are really just relativists. As you say, things like killing innocents are okay when he approves of it and when ‘we’ do it. One day I think it would be an idea to send Murray to the frontline of one of the militant interventions he so frequently calls for, and then we will see how long his rhetoric lasts.

      • Mike

        James and Christopher – more thought needs to be given to how to protect peoplefrom terrorism. The UN was set to reduce the risk of world war. Criminal law is well established for dealing with criminals operating in one country.
        The problem is that where there are terrorists who operate against one or many countries and are protected by many other countries, much of the law is of minimal use. Perhaps the most important function of any government is to protect it’s citizens against violence . Once a terrorist group operates in a country in which the host government is incapable or unwilling to act against them , the government of the country which is being targeted as limited options. Applying for extradition at best achieves nothing and at worst tips off the terrorists. Isarel had this problem from the late 60s to late 90s when dealig with terrorists who could come from several countries and given sanctuary by many more . In the case of Entebbe,Idi Amin of Uganda actually helped the PLO.
        You say drones are wrong, well solve the problem of international terrorism which has been with us since the late 60s. Infiltrating a special forces unit into remote and mountainous areas in order to kill or capture a terrorist is difficult.

        • Christopher Ward

          Douglas Murray once wrote a book about Bloody Sunday, in which he was very critical of the army’s behaviour that day. He ended the book thus: “All of these people (the victims’ families), and many others, realised that they had a choice. They made the most important decision of all. They decided that in response to murder they did not have to become murderers themselves.”

          What is the difference between the cold-blooded murder of innocent Catholics, who were presumed to be armed terrorists, and the cold-blooded murder of Muslims, who are also presumed to be terrorists?

          Why does Murray criticise one example of cold-blooded murder, but yet praises another?

          The men murdered on Bloody Sunday were innocently marching. The men murdered by Obama’s drones were sitting in their homes, attending barbecues, at family gatherings.

          The difference between the two sets of people, largely, is the colour of their skin.

          The brown ones are unpeople.

  • Vote for Freedom: Vote Romney!

    Well, I LIVE in Obama’s America, and I voted for Guess Who.

    • TheOtherTurnipTaliban

      Hulk Hogan? Me too

  • Eddie

    Maybe if Clinto hadn’;t allowed the banks to be so derugulated leading to a credit boom, and maybe if the US hadn’t allowed unrestricted imports from China, then the US wouldn’t be so broke (and it is broke and is just being propped up by confidence of the markets – when the enormous debts it has under Democrats and Republicans are called in, America will implode!).
    Ditto for us. We must have been MAD to allow the Chinese to get rich off the back of selling us consumerist junk: now they have enough money to take over the world.
    The Chinese call the shots now. Not the Americans. It doesn’t really matter if they put Bart Simpson in the White House – the economy will go on just the same.

    • Lungfish

      Thats about the crux of it- what we need now is a decade of rampant inflation to bullshit our debt away.

  • M. Wenzl

    There’s a lot in this article open for debate, but what I would say is, regarding the Arab Spring, Douglas Murray is blinkered by an ongoing misconception that history has been characterised by a conflict between liberalism and totalitarianism. This isn’t the case, and the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood have become a credible political force in both existing and emerging democracies shows that political landscapes are far more manifold and progressive than this simplistic (and often patronising) Western archetype. To call the Muslim Brotherhood “a far more serious strategic opponent than Bin Laden” is totally uninformed, unless Arab nations taking critical stances on Israel merits the view that they are opponents.

    I would also like to know: what stance should the US have taken vis a vis the Arab Spring?

    • T. Botham

      The Muslim Brotherhood ideology is still the Arab-Muslim brand of nazism – an ideology, like fascism, considered progressive by its adherents – despite the efforts of Clapper, Clinton and the UN to paint it otherwise. Its credibility is not germane. All too many people believe in that never-dying political force. What has informed your opinion on the Muslim Brotherhood, other than tired multiculturist /orientalist slogans?
      The US has two options vis a vis the Arab Spring. Leave it alone – no support, no aid, no weapons, no advice, no humanitarian aid – until the civil war is over and recognize the regime of the winner conditionally on its attitude towards America and its conduct to its own people. Support the pro-Western secular liberals, but stay to prop them up and be involved in perpetual counterinsurgency. As there are no identifiable pro-Western secular liberals, and as America has proved it cannot nation-build, deliver democracy and/or suppress insurgency, that option is not viable. Perpetual sanctions upon Islamist regimes (including Iraq) and unchallengeable domination of the sea lanes is the minimum strategic posture. What America cannot do is “lead from behind.” That resulted in the deaths of an American Ambassador and three others at the hands of ideological murderers, progressive though they might be in the eyes of Obama and you.

      • M. Wenzl

        Could you elaborate after making such a strong statement? What are the Nazi influences in their ideology? Islam as a political force (and not as an underground faction) has thus far maintained a secular stance, with religion used as an ideological reference point rather than an enforceable way of life. There is nothing in the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood and other moderate Islam parties (e.g. the Justice Party in Turkey) that suggests the legal exclusion of minorities from public life. At worst, it would not be politically prudent for them to adopt such a stance. If you have any concrete examples of the secret Nazi nature of the Muslim Brotherhood, please cite them.

        • T. Botham

          Not secret. Overt. At your finger tips. Inform yourself of the writings of Al Banna (an avid supporter of Hitler). Read about his goal of a worldwide Islamic Reich to be attained through jihad. Read the academic analyses of the influence of national socialism on MB ideology. Read the bylaws of the organization. (The MB removed – political prudence – their bylaws from their English language website, but they are still available in Arabic.) Observe the intended obliteration of “Zionist filth”. Go to MEMRI and see English translations of recent statements by MB leaders in Egypt and around the world. Do not resort to the old apologist’s trick of pointing to the MB’s social programs rather than its written and spoken ideology as speaking the truth of what it is and stands for. (Refresh your memory of Hitler’s improvements and extensions of social programs). Do not bleat about free and fair elections. Hitler was elected too. Elections do not legitimize leaders who seek world domination and the imposition by force of a totalitarian ideology.

          If your notion of nazism is that it “excludes minorities from public life,” and if you believe that political Islam uses religion as an “ideological reference point rather than an enforceable way of life” – then you have nothing to contribute to foreign policy discussion.

  • Justin

    Obama’s victory will be the victory of the media, academia, fan boys and Hollywood glitterati. Never in the history of the democratic world has a person so undeserving, so inept and so dangerous has been willingly voted to (supposedly) the most powerful office in the world. The media bias, the relentless attack on the opponent by so called TV comedians-come-presenters and their equally shallow hosts, the blatant intervention at those god-awful TV debates by moderators who unashamedly began to bat for the incumbent, the universal silence on eye-watering 16 trillion debt, the persistent unemployment, the apologies to the Muslim world, the bowing and scraping to despots of the world, Beghazigate, appointments to public offices of persons of dubious loyalties etc. will all go down in history as the time when Americans went mad and voted for Obama. But am I bothered? Well, as someone who despises the Coco Channel liberal, the $1,000 a head fund raising dinner progressive, whiny “USA, USA” jingo USA , I’m loving it. The sooner this attention seeking blot on human civilisation comes to its end, the better. And so on that token: ”Go Obama!”

  • Augustus

    You cannot deny that one of the major criticisms of the Obama administration’s foreign policy has been his abandonment and continuous public chastisement and humiliation of Israel. While Obama blames Israeli settlement policies – including construction of homes in east Jerusalem’s Jewish suburbs – for the impasse with the Palestinians, Romney says plainly that peace will be unattainable until the Palestinians genuinely abandon their objective to destroy and eliminate the Jewish state. And notwithstanding his vows to do all that is necessary to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power, should sanctions fail to bring about tangible results, there are grave doubts as to whether Obama would be willing to take the tough measures required. There is also a vast chasm between the approaches of each candidate in relation to the Arab world, which is increasingly falling under more extreme Islamic and jihadist influences. Even the terms Islamic extremism or Islamic terrorism are banned. Unfortunately in America, the depressing reality is that American Jews, especially the more assimilated ones, no longer consider Israel a major priority
    when casting their votes. Indeed, for many of the less committed Jews, issues
    like gay marriage and abortion on demand seem to outweigh the well-being of the
    Jewish state, an attitude only intensified by the growing threat from the far Left anti-Israel activists within the
    Democratic Party.

    • victor67

      Did you listen to what Abbas said recently about recognizing Palestine only within its 67 borders and forsaking the right to return. This was welcomed by Tzpi Livni. Sorry but the tired old arguments having been waring thin since the Arab peace initive was rejected.
      Perhaps Liberal American jews have grown tired of Israel as it lurches to the right. The racist Lieberman is a good example of this,with him being more at home in Putin’s Russia.

  • Baron

    good read, well argued and balanced, Douglas, the voting preference is also sensible even though even without your vote Romney will sail through.

    Baron’s knowledge of American presidential elections hovers around zilch, his gut feeling tells him however the American unwashed has had enough of repenting for their racist past, the ability to manage things of the financial, economic nature must be the decisive determinant for the years ahead, if it ain’t, the Republic will go under even faster than one say Barack Hussein Obama.

    • Lennie Small

      Your wrong about mice and men Baron

  • Tinker Bell

    I wouldn’t vote for either – I’d vote for Gary Johnson.

  • David Lindsay

    in the United States might be interested to know that, as at every
    Presidential Election since it became an issue, Republican Party
    officials appear regularly on the British broadcast media to denounce as
    “scaremongering” the slightest suggestion that a Republican President
    would seek to limit abortion in any way whatever. Roe v Wade is
    “precedent”, and that is just that. Such is the official, stated view of
    the GOP, as such.

    Does that sit uneasily with Romney’s Mormon bishopric? Not really.
    Mormons seem to be a liberalising force even within the Republican
    Party, and at least a large proportion of them are clearly Democrats,
    anyway. Harry Reid is in fact quite conservative compared with Romney,
    who enacted in Massachusetts the taxpayer-funded abortion that Obama did
    not enact nationwide, and who through Bain Capital was and remains a
    personal profiteer from abortion.

    Romney’s Mormonism would be a major issue for Evangelicals if they
    thought for one moment that he might win. That it isn’t proves
    conclusively that they don’t, not even for one moment. There will soon
    be more Mormons than (mostly very secular) Jews in the United States.
    Half the population of Las Vegas, sending all those tithes back across
    state lines to Salt Lake City, meets the people who control Hollywood
    and the pornography industry.

    Many, perhaps most, of Romney’s foreign policy advisers are dual
    American-Israeli citizens. If Nile Gardiner is still a British
    passport-holder, then one really does have to wonder both why he still
    wants one and why we still let him have one, as well as pointing out
    that, as a former Thatcher staffer, he would be arrested if he ever
    returned to this country, as at least an accessory to one or both of
    mass murder at Hillsborough and mass sexual abuse of children all over
    the place; policy on East Asia and elsewhere would seem to be rather
    informed by Gardiner’s Unificationism, just as Mormonism, no less than
    big business, lies behind the desire to give “Lamanites” unhindered
    entry to the United States.

    And then there is Walid Phares, erstwhile militia commander in the
    Lebanese Forces, and adherent to its irredentist faction which refused
    to follow General Aoun into the present coalition, instead
    participating, like the Phalange, in the Salafi-led alliance on behalf
    of which Israel, with her cheerful Salafi parliamentarians and cities
    and with her Sharia law for anyone born into certain ethnic minorities,
    is co-operating with Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia in attempting to
    stage a putsch in Lebanon. Doubtless to be joined by Romney’s America in
    that mercifully improbable event.

    From 1980s Afghanistan to Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya, Xinjiang, Turkey,
    Iraq, Libya, Tunisia, putatively Syria, in the form of Jundullah in
    relation to Iran, and now also Lebanon, with a beady eye needing to be
    kept on Egypt: there is no closer, nor any more ruthless or more
    vicious, military partnership on earth than that between the
    neoconservatives and the Wahhabi and Salafi. Under Romney, the neocons
    would be back with a vengeance, subsuming those traitors to Christian
    Lebanon who in any case always modelled themselves on the European
    Fascism of the 1930s and adhered, as they still do, to the bizarre
    racial theory of Phoenicianism which, among much else, accounted for
    their violent hostility towards the ancient indigenous Christians
    further south. One such racist terrorist godfather, now in league with
    the Salafi while pretending on Fox to be their blood enemy, is Walid
    Phares. He is the Co-Chairman of the
    Middle East Advisory Group to Mitt Romney.

    Thank God that it is not going to happen.

  • Ali Buchan

    Yet another sensible, considered piece on the US election from The Spectator. All at the magazine should be congratulated on the balanced, in-depth reporting that this event has been afforded, especially in the face of what I believe to be ill-informed dogma from the rest of the UK media.

    I’ve very much enjoyed and appreciated the opportunity to give myself a clearer picture of the stand-out issues which American and its citizens are most concerned about going into the election.

    Thanks to all at The Spectator. Keep up the good work!

    • mikewaller

      If I were responsible for a journal of record and got this kind of commendation from a supporter of one side of a highly partisan election, I should be very, very concerned.

      Sensible political thinkers of my age remember Dennis Healey’s observation to the effect that being in government is like being on the bridge of a supertanker with a capacity to alter its course by about 3 degrees with an electorate who think you can turn it on a sixpence.

      America and Europe’s problems have very little to do with who is in the White House. The crux of the matter is that since the industrial revolution the West has had a period of massive technological dominance which is now coming to an end. Unfortunately, during that period democratic regimes spent even more than they were getting in to buy electoral support. As a result, we now face epoch-making changes up to our necks in debt with electorates whose expectations are now way out of line with what the future is likely to deliver.

      Republicans can bang on about “our freedoms” and democrats shout “Yes we can”, but it is all so much hot air. What is really needed is someone big enough to give Western electorates a series of fireside chats that fully put them in the picture. Sadly, as things stand, the political climate is just going to get more and more factious as each side serves up a rival scapegoat for what is an economic crisis of truly global proportions.

      • Ali Buchan

        My fault. I meant the magazine’s coverage as a whole, not this article in isolation. I just thought it showed good editorial decision-making.

        • mikewaller

          I am put in mind of Mandy Rice-Davis’s most famous remark: “He would say that wouldn’t he!” [:-)]

      • Baron

        mikewaller, agreed on the issue whether it matters or not who occupies the White House except for the ‘someone big enough giving a pep talk’, unless you were to accept the someone with the ear of the unwashed may also be a societal implosion, collapse, mighty crash, for in Baron’s view this is the only force that carries the convincing argument to deliver sanity again.

        It was the historian Toynbee who quipped that societies don’t get murdered, but commit suicide, and we’re running that quip now. What Romney can do, for it is he who will get in, is to delay the final gasp, the messiah would have only only administered another self inflicting wound.

      • Vote for Freedom: Vote Romney!

        Freedom is NOT ‘so much hot air’. We live it and breathe it. I’m sorry if you don’t.