In re Romney

My op-ed on the (hashem forbid) possible Presidency of Mitt Romney. From The Justice.

It’s January 20, 2013 at noon. Mitt Romney has just been sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts as the 45th president of the United States of America. Yes, this is the nightmare many of us have been having since the first debate, and I would like to share how I think this would play out.

Romney was elected in a very close election, winning Ohio by a few thousand votes to capture a majority of the Electoral College. President Obama won the popular vote. The Republican Party’s momentum allowed for Republican candidates to win in Senate elections in Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota and Virginia, along with Senator Scott Brown’s reelection here in Massachusetts.

This caused the Senate to be comprised of 50 Democratic members and 50 Republican members, meaning that the Republican party would hold control of the chamber through Vice President Paul Ryan’s tiebreaking vote.

Meanwhile, Republicans maintained their control of the House of Representatives, effectively in control of all three segments of the elected government.

A Democratic filibuster in the Senate might prevent President Romney from actually repealing Obamacare on “Day one,” but he would only need a simple majority in the Senate to defund the act through a process called “reconciliation,” that is, amending a previous law with just over half of the possible votes. This would allow for a Romney administration to effectively make the law moot. Through reconciliation, Republicans would also be able to enact massive tax cuts, mainly for the wealthiest individuals and largest corporations.

However, without 60 Republican votes in the Senate, a Romney administration would not be able to embark on some of the other more ambitious aspirations of the Republican Party.

These include drastically increasing off-shore drilling, enacting a national Arizona-style immigration law and turning Medicare into a voucher system.

A Romney presidency would also be disastrous for foreign affairs. The last time a Republican was president, under George W. Bush, the United States was heavily criticized by our allies, such as France and Germany during the Iraq War, for abiding by unilateral, destructive policies.

The Obama administration has taken many steps to not only improve our image overseas but to make the world a safer place. The Obama administration touts the signing of the New START treaty with Russia, which allows for United States oversight of Russian nuclear programs, an invaluably important provision supported by presidents and presidential candidates since Reagan—until now, that is.

A President Romney would withdraw from the New START treaty. This would put America at egregious risk purely for the appeasement of Romney’s political party. A President Romney would also further exacerbate tensions with Iran, and would be more likely to go to war. As we have seen in the recent vice-presidential debate, a Romney administration would be dubious of economic or diplomatic sanctions against Iran. The result would surely be military action.

A Romney administration would repeal Obamacare, make permanent the Bush tax cuts, and return to the same style of diplomacy as President Bush. These are not trivial accomplishments by any means. However, they are surely not the Armageddon that many on the left are predicting from a Romney presidency. That is, unless one key event occurs.

The Supreme Court is currently comprised of four liberals, four extreme conservatives and one moderate conservative. One of the liberals, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, is currently 79 years old. She has had multiple battles with cancer in the past, but is currently in remission. If Justice Ginsburg would have to retire or otherwise be replaced during a Romney presidency, it might very well be the end of the world that many are predicting. Romney has a history of being called “not conservative enough,” so he would have an added impetus to appoint an ultra-conservative to the court. Otherwise, he would risk drawing a primary challenger from the ultra-Conservative wing of the Republican Party for his possible re-election bid in 2016.

This new Supreme Court justice would alter many of the most important cases to come before the court. Once he or she took office, the new justice would be the deciding vote in a number of key cases including: a case overturning Roe v. Wade, a case overturning N.F.I.B. v. Sebilius (striking Obamacare) and a case that would prevent a national recognition of marriage equality for a generation. Further, I feel there is a very low chance that Romney’s nominee for the court would ever side with liberal justices. If someone claims that a Romney administration will not be able to accomplish anything significant because they could not block a Democratic filibuster in the Senate, they would be simply wrong. With the smallest of majorities in Congress, the theoretical President Romney could, for all intent and purposes, repeal Obamacare and make the Bush tax cuts permanent.

Without congressional approval, a Republican administration in the White House could severely alter foreign relations with other nations. However, most importantly, a Romney administration could destroy the integrity of our Supreme Court for a generation to come.

10 most important elections (besides the Presidency)

The President of the United States is the most powerful person in the world. He sets the foreign policy, has tremendous influence over Congress, and can nominate Justices to the Supreme Court. Obviously, the race between President Obama and Governor Romney is much more important than anything else. However, the media already devotes all of its energy to cover this election, so I would like to focus on the 10 most important other elections.

10. Houston City Council, District E
Dave Martin is the widely assumed favorite, but Elizabeth Perez could very well pull an upset. What we have here is not an election between Democrat and Republican, it is an election between an old-guard Republican and the recalcitrant Tea Party. Martin will surely follow in the footsteps of his predecessor, and perhaps also be like Councilmember Pennington. However, Perez would most like imitate the habits of Councilmember Brown. It will be interesting to watch, but I’m not throwing any of my money at it.

9. Washington gay marriage referendum
There are actually four referendums, but Washington’s has the best chance of approval. Maine, Maryland, and Minnesota also have referendums, but I am less optimistic. Especially Minnesota, I think the traditional midwestern social conservative state has been given up on. Maine is a tossup, and Maryland similar. Maryland has a large African-American population which has ranged from tepid to hostile on the issue. However, Washington has a fairly good chance leading into the home stretch. Most importantly, this could finally break the curse of states approving gay marriage bans.

8. United States House of Representatives, Texas’ 14th district
Control of the House is not especially up for grabs this year, but this election will essentially make-or-break Nick Lampson’s career. A second loss in a row would be disastrous and most likely put an end to the former Congressman’s political aspirations, which could be quite valuable for Texas Democrats.

7. Texas House, 134th district
Sarah Davis seems to represent an average Tea Partier, completely inexcusable for my home district. Texas Democrats NEED a solid number over 50 in the delegations, and Ann Johnson will be the way towards that goal.

6. United States Senate, Indiana
The control of the Senate is up for grabs, and every election counts. This seat, held by longtime Senator Dick Lugar, is now open after Lugar was defeated in the GOP primary by an extremist. The Republican, State Treasurer Richard Mourdock is now trailing in polls against the Democrat, Congressman Joe Donnelly. Donnelly is a strong candidate who I may even donate some money towards.

5. United States Senate, Massachusetts
I believe this election (Scott Brown vs Elizabeth Warren) is important in more ways than one. Massachusetts, arguably one of the most liberal states in the union, is faced between a very liberal Democrat and a very moderate Republican.

4. United States House of Representatives, Texas’ 23rd district
Again, the House is not up for grabs, but this election is important for another reason. Congressman Canseco and Representative Gallego are competing in the heavily Latino district. A loss by Gallego would be truly embarrassing for a Texas Democratic Party attempting to court Latinos.

3. Harris County Sheriff
Sheriff Adrian Garcia is perhaps Harris County’s best chance of retaining a countywide Democrat. His opponent is a crook, and Garcia has done a fantastic job while in office. This election will answer that question he had on November 3rd, 2010 in Houston. Can it get any worse?

2. United States Senate, North Dakota
The funny thing about the Senate is that no matter how small the state, the Senators hold equal power, so this election is just as important as the one in California or Texas. Former Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp, the Democrat, is running against Congressman Rick Berg, the Republican. The seat has long been held by Democrat Kent Conrad. Heitkamp CAN WIN, and she will if she can raise enough money to compete against the outside money being funneled in by Karl Rove and the Koch brothers. I will surely be donating some money to Ms. Heitkamp and I suggest y’all do the same.

1. Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Presiding Justice
Keith Hampton’s campaign against Sharon Keller is almost as important as the Presidential election. Keith Hampton’s campaign against Sharon Keller is almost as important the Presidential election–it is important enough to say twice. Sharon Keller is a travesty to justice and our state. Mr Hampton has been endorsed by quite conservative papers and individuals for a very simple reason: he will restore honour to our highest court.

Also, RIP Arlen Specter. You were a good man in a profession full of wrong-doers.

Cynic

One of the things I have noticed since being up here in Mass is that the liberals here are optimistic and sunny and happy. Personally, I have little respect for the Massachusetts Democratic establishment (I mean, Scott Brown, come on), but I get that they are mostly optimistic whereas Democrats haven’t won statewide office in Texas since I was an infant. I have a really that Texas has turned me into quite the cynic. For example, I think Sadler and Petty and Hampton are all fantastic candidates, but at a certain point I accept that they will not win, nor come anywhere close to winning. However, my optimism has always been towards the future, towards this abstract idea that there will be a people’s backlash at the end of the decade, spurred on by demographic changes. A coalition of Latinos, African-Americans, Asians, Austinites, and Inner-loop professions will rise up to kick the good ol’ boys out of the capitol. So here is my timeline:


November 2012 — Romney defeats Obama in electoral college, Obama wins popular vote. Republicans pick up net gain of two seats in the Senate, Democrats gain about a dozen seats in the House. Statewide Republicans all win. Wendy Davis is re-elected barely, no change in State Senate. Democrats pick up a few seats in the State House.

November 2013 — Parker re-elected.

November 2014 — Republican elected Governor (and all statewide offices). Perry might even get it again, but I would say a primary challenger will knock him off. Democrats make gains in Congress.

November 2015 — First Hispanic mayor of Houston elected.

November 2016 — Romney defeated by Democrat, Democrats retake the House. Slight gains for Democrats in the State Legislature but Republicans hold onto statewide offices.

November 2017 — Hispanic mayor re-elected.

November 2018 — Castro/Davis elected Governor and Lieutenant Governor, respectively. Castro ushers in new era of hispanic lead Democratic rule in Texas.