Mitt Romney and his father

I wrote before how some Republicans are now starting to distance themselves from Donald Trump following his disgraceful response to the protests and demonstrations following the murder of George Floyd. I said that while we should welcome their defections, we should never let them forget their complicity in creating the kind of Republican party that enabled Trump to win the presidency, and have continued to support him on his rampage against basic norms and decency.

So why are some now gingerly edging away from Trump? We have to remember that this is an election year and many Republicans must be getting nervous since Trump’s poll numbers are not good. On the one hand, to distance themselves too much from Trump is to incur his wrath and those of his devotees. This is particularly fraught for them in primary elections where only registered Republicans vote. Once they win their primaries, they have a little more leeway to try and pretend they are independent because Republican voters have nowhere else to go. But they can stray too far since angry Trumpers may stay home and they cannot afford that.

Right now, Trump’s support is slipping. As November approaches and if his support does not rise again or sinks even lower, they will be faced with the decision of whether to continue to grovel before him or pretend that they have some principles. That is going to be interesting to watch.

One of the few Republicans who can plausibly lay some claim to being genuine about his indignation over the death of George Floyd is senator Mitt Romney. He has gone further than most, taking part in marches protesting police brutality and even saying that Black Lives Matter, something that no other elected Republican member of congress has done as far as I am aware.

Margaret Carlson suggests that this may be because Romney’s father George Romney, who was governor of Michigan and ran unsuccessfully for president in 1968, had progressive views on race and championed civil rights, expanded state social programs, including for programs for the poor and unemployed, created an income tax levy, and while governor said that “Michigan’s most urgent human rights problem is racial discrimination–in housing, public accommodations, education, administration of justice, and employment.” Because Barry Goldwater opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, George Romney refused to support him for the presidency that year.

During his term as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development during Richard Nixon’s first term from 1969 to 1972, Romney pursued policies of affordable housing and suburban desegregation with zeal, to the point of angering some white residents of Michigan who opposed his policies of encouraging the integration of lily-white suburbs.

Compare that with Donald Trump’s real estate developer father, a racist like his son, who discriminated against black people in the housing units he built. Trump’s father bequeathed to his son both money and his racist attitudes.

It would not be surprising if the different parental influences had some effect on the thinking of their two children.


  1. xohjoh2n says

    I thought Romney was working *for* the zombie apocalypse -- has he changed policies radically in the last 8 years?

  2. blf says

    Alleged human “Romney” has always been a shape-shifter, repositioning to sail with the the winds as long as the dollar bills are blowing in the same direction.

  3. lanir says

    If he wants so badly to be useful in this moment of change I say let him. Let all of them. It’s not a free pass to escape their past shennanigans. But if they’re doing good and being useful in the moment there’s not much point in slapping their hands and saying “NO!”

    Politics actually does have something in common with your average post apocalyptic story. Neither one is about assembling a team of the best and brightest chosen from among all of humanity (or if it is, it’s a subverted version of that story about how a bunch of rich assholes chose the people they want to serve them and keep them alive through the mess). Instead it’s much more commonly about a team of people just as broken as everyone else but who tend to have some utility or talent the group can use.

    And like in the post apocalyptic scenarios, politics doesn’t give everyone an equal voice and we just need to make sure the broken people don’t break our politics and our world in their image. But letting them come along for the ride and make the ride easier for the rest of us? Oh hell yeah, do that. More, please!

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