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Romney’s Fantasy Version of American History

Mitt Romney’s grasp of U.S. history leaves something to be desired:

Referencing Trump’s 2016 campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again,” Romney said to truly make America great, the nation must also be good.

He cited a fact a prominent Israeli politician told him years ago, that America is different because in all of the wars the nation has fought, it has never taken any land from an enemy [bold mine-DL].

The “fact” that Romney cites is not true, and anyone with at least a middle school education should be able to tell him why he’s wrong. While it is true that the U.S. has generally not annexed territory after its wars of the last hundred years, the century before that was full of conquests and annexations. It is truly bizarre that someone running for office in Utah of all places apparently doesn’t recall that the U.S. took vast territories from Native Americans and Mexico by force in the 19th century. The Spanish War is often forgotten here, but it definitely involved land grabs when the war was over. How does Romney think Puerto Rico became U.S. territory? The Philippines were a U.S. colony for half a century, and the U.S. fought more than one war to keep it that way. Even the failed War of 1812 was driven in large part by a desire to conquer Canada. Does Romney really not know any of this, or is he just feigning disqualifying ignorance?

Maybe Romney is just telling the audience what he thinks they want to hear. It wouldn’t be the first time that the former governor has mangled the truth in the interests of pandering. The more disturbing possibility is that Romney actually believes that his fantasy version of American history is true and that it “proves” that our country is somehow immune to the temptations of power that other powerful nations have experienced.

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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