Home/Daniel Larison/Romney’s Candidacy Has No Meaning, But It May Not Matter

Romney’s Candidacy Has No Meaning, But It May Not Matter

According to Peggy Noonan, Mitt Romney must be in terrible trouble:

With just more than 130 days to go, Mr. Romney has to start pulling from his brain and soul a coherent and graspable sense of the meaning of his run. “I will be president for this reason and this. I will move for this and this. The philosophy that impels me consists of these things.” Only when he does this will he show that he actually does have a larger purpose, and only then will people really turn toward him. He has to tell Americans why they can believe him, why a nation saturated with politics, chronically disappointed by its leaders, and tired of promises can, actually, put some faith in him.

Actually, Noonan thinks Romney is doing quite well at the moment, but she says that Romney has to “catch hold” of the “overall meaning of his candidacy” and has not yet done so. If Noonan is right that Romney needs to convey the meaning of his candidacy to voters, Romney must be headed for defeat. There is no meaning for him to grasp. There is nothing there to convey to voters.

No one has run for presidential office for so long while conveying so little about the reason for doing so as Romney has. The purpose of Romney’s candidacy is simply to win the election, which is as dull and ordinary as one can imagine, and there is not really any pretense that Romney’s candidacy serves a “larger purpose.” People cannot put faith in Romney, because he is thoroughly untrustworthy and prone to saying whatever it is he thinks people want to hear. To the extent that a lot of non-Republicans are willing to give him a hearing, they assume that the policies he is proposing during the campaign cannot possibly be the policies he would pursue once in office. When he says, “I will move for this and this,” the common reaction is to assume that Romney will not so move.

Romney is the embodiment of everything Americans claim to dislike about national politics. He is both a fierce partisan and lacking in firm convictions. If Romney does end up winning, that will be a good indication that a majority of voters isn’t interested in the meaning or purpose of his candidacy. It will mean that enough voters are dissatisfied enough with the incumbent that they are willing to tolerate just about anyone as a replacement.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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