Wisconsin is an essential swing state. Likely to go blue, it could still swing the other way. With how things are going for the Republicans, they need their best effort in every swing state. Pres. Barack Obama could likely do without Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes, but Mitt Romney may not be able to.
Romney has been cozying up with Wisconsin’s two most recognizable Republicans — Gov. Scott Walker and Rep. Paul Ryan. This may have seemed like a wise move to Romney at first, given these two men are bona fide, red-blooded conservatives and Romney is the former governor of one of the bluest states there is — Massachusetts. However, by aligning himself with Walker and Ryan, Romney may be bolstering his conservative credentials at the expense of alienating large groups of voters.
It is undeniable that supporting Walker will gain Romney some conservative support in Wisconsin, but Walker is by no means an uncontroversial figure. Even if he does survive the recall effort and remain governor, he has done some very unpopular things. Most recently, Walker repealed the Equal Pay Enforcement Act of 2009, a law which had made it easier for women to press charges of employment discrimination against their employers. Nationally, on average, women still only earn about three quarters of what men earn, as reported by The San Francisco Chronicle.
Repealing the Equal Pay Enforcement Act will undoubtedly hurt Walker’s chances with women and as a result of supporting him, it will hurt Romney’s too. It seems like the Republican Party has done everything it could think of to alienate women voters in this election cycle. The Republicans are clearly on the wrong side when it comes to abortion, contraception and equal pay. What will be next? Maybe their strategy will be to tell women not to worry their pretty little heads over whom to vote for.
Perhaps even more surprising than his support for Walker is how much he seems to want to align himself with Paul Ryan. NPR reports that Romney has publicly supported the Ryan Plan, which is an austerity measure disguised as a budget proposal with cuts to government programs like we have never seen before. Furthermore, many are speculating that Ryan may even be on Romney’s shortlist for vice president.
Conventional wisdom says that Romney will need to choose someone who can bring some diversity and excitement to his ticket. He is a rich, white man from the Northeast, so the right woman could be a good choice. After Nikki Haley took herself off Romney’s shortlist, however, there do not appear to be many women lining up for the job, according to The Huffington Post. Paul Ryan may be near the top of the list, and he would be an awful choice for Romney for several reasons.
Ryan is from a swing state, but politically there is no other good reason to choose him as vice presidential nominee. He and Romney are too similar. They are both rich, white men who seem exceedingly boring and disconnected to the average American. Even though Ryan did not grow up extremely wealthy or graduate from Harvard, he lost a lot of credibility with middle class voters with his budget proposal that slashes social programs.
If the Republicans cannot find one single woman willing and able to be their vice presidential nominee, they would probably do well to choose Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) for the position. He has legitimate conservative credentials but has not proposed anything as controversial as the Ryan Plan, and he could help the Republicans significantly with the Hispanic vote. Other names that have been floated for the job include New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.
Neither man would bring any real diversity to the Republican ticket. Christie, ultimately, is another rich, white man from the Northeast. McDonnell may not be a terrible choice politically, but he is quite different from Romney. He is a hardcore social conservative, where Romney, socially, has more flip-flops than an Old Navy sale.
Politicians are inevitably many different things to many different people. It comes with the job description, especially in a country as diverse as this. Romney especially is an exceptionally gifted chameleon. He has a way of changing whichever way the wind wants him to go and he will certainly choose his vice presidential nominee based on what is most politically expedient for him. Paul Ryan would not be a wise choice, but there do not seem to be many great options left for Romney.
If Romney wants to have any chance of winning Wisconsin, a swing state that went blue in 2008, he will have to come back to his more centrist roots. Aligning himself with uncompromising conservatives like Walker and Ryan will hurt him at the polls, especially with women and middle class voters.
Ryan Plesh (email@example.com) is a senior majoring in philosophy and physics.