Mitt Romney’s candidacy boasts several strengths. He is a successful businessman, an accomplished politician, and an articulate speaker. Romney is also perceived as economically conservative. In addition to those qualities he is photogenic, which is more essential to contemporary office seekers than a coherent platform. But Romney has drawbacks as well. 

Some of Romney’s flaws aren’t actually flaws, such as Mitt’s oft-criticized Mormon beliefs. Pundits contend America isn’t ready for a Latter Day Saint president. That argument is familiar, and erroneous. Experts made the same case against a Catholic president just before America elected JFK, and against a black president before Obama. Thus Romney’s Mormonism is a moot point. 

An equally empty argument concerns Romney’s lineage. Mitt’s Mormon ancestors practiced polygamy. However, Romney has been married to one wife since 1969. His “family values” appear impeccable. Mitt is no more a polygamist via ancestral link than a descendant of Jefferson Davis is a slaveholder. His heritage, too, is a moot point. 

A legitimate criticism of Romney is his indecisiveness, as columnist Steve Chapman alleges in a recent editorial. Chapman’s main contention is Mitt’s willingness to change position at the drop of a hat and then deny having done so. Indeed Romney has a history of being a walking contradiction. He tried to out-liberal Ted Kennedy in a 1994 Senate race. Once pro-choice, Romney became pro-life. Once in favor of banning semi-automatic firearms, he became pro-gun. Yet to become pro-life and pro-gun are solid conservative changes. 

Romney’s true Achilles Heel isn’t indecisiveness, religion, or heritage. It’s the Massachusetts healthcare overhaul he fostered. One of the key arrows in a conservative’s anti-Obama quiver is opposing ObamaCare. Can Romney distance himself from his Massachusetts system, after which ObamaCare was modeled? He can and he has. Furthermore, Romney’s defense is based on solid, conservative, pro-Constitution grounds. 

Romney has cited the Tenth Amendment in reconciling Massachusetts’ healthcare plan with his criticism of ObamaCare. He contends the Constitution grants the central government no authority to deliver or mandate health coverage, nor does it prevent states from doing so. Thus Romney’s state program is defensible while Obama’s federal program is not. 

Granted, the conservative position is to remove government entirely from healthcare, making Romney’s Tenth Amendment defense a technicality. But Romney can claim to have acted in the interests of Massachusetts. This position doesn’t necessarily defend government managed healthcare, but rather the right of each state to experiment with laws that fit the citizens’ desires. Favorable laws are retained while unfavorable ones are repealed. The entire nation suffered no loss of liberty under RomneyCare, as it will with ObamaCare. 

Mitt Romney is a politician first and may be blowing smoke with his Tenth Amendment stance. But any candidate who makes a Constitutional argument for state sovereignty should please conservatives. To reject Romney’s defense entirely is to repudiate the principle of limited government and state sovereignty upon which our nation was created.

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