This will not be Mitt Romney’s first Republican National Convention. Forty-eight years ago this summer, 17-year-old Mitt went with his father, Michigan Governor George Romney, to the party’s 1964 convention in San Francisco. As the party prepared to nominate Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater for the presidency, and to embrace a platform that was even more extreme in its positions than those taken by its standard-bearer, Mitt watched as his father fought a valiant battle to prevent the party’s lurch to the right.
It was a battle of ideology, idealism and honor. George Romney, a committed supporter of the struggle for racial justice that he traced to Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, believed that Goldwater’s opposition to federal civil rights legislation meant that the presumptive nominee’s “views deviate as indicated from the heritage of our party.” He argued that the party needed to fully embrace the civil rights struggle and to explicitly reject the extremism of far-right groups such as the John Birch Society.
“There is no place in either of our parties for the purveyors of hate,” George Romney argued, to no avail. The Republican Party rejected platform planks proposed by the elder Romney and the moderate wing of the Republican Party and went all-in for extremism. With that, he walked out of the convention, displaying the resolve that would lead the future president of the United States Gerald Ford to say “[George Romney] has never let the temporary glitter of expediency obscure the path which his integrity dictated he must follow.”
Even allowing for the overheated rhetoric of nominating speakers, there will be no such pronouncements this year regarding Mitt Romney. Nor will there be any meaningful efforts to dial back the extremism of a platform that one of its drafters, Oregon delegate and Tea Party activist Russ Walker, says “appears to be the most conservative platform in modern history.” The Washington Times echoed that assessment, as Republican US Senate candidates such as Scott Brown of Massachusetts and Laura Lingle of Hawaii scrambled to distance themselves from a platform defined by its
* no-exceptions approach to abortion and a “personhood” section that seeks “legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children”
* militant opposition to marriage equality and a refusal even to acknowledge civil unions
* call for limiting the role of women in the military