I am, without question, an unabashed Mitt Romney supporter. Governor Romney’s brand of pragmatic, common-sense conservatism, combined with his deep humility and grace make him one of the most dignified, respected politicians not just at home, but across the globe.
Needless to say, I have been very excited at the prospect of a Secretary Romney in the State Department. If the President-elect wants to make a smart, calculated choice for America’s chief diplomat, he would be well advised to choose the former Massachusetts governor.
First, and foremost, the position of Secretary of State calls for an individual that is able to travel the globe and readily present American interests in a firm, yet positive demeanor. Furthermore, the job demands an individual that embodies a sense of diplomatic grace that will enhance global leaders’ perception of the current Administration. Mitt Romney fulfills each of these criteria. Mr. Romney’s calm persona and even-handedness is the exact kind of temperament that we need to represent our nation across the globe.
Furthermore, the State Department is an incredibly byzantine, bureaucratic institution. America’s next Secretary of State must be able to understand the ins and outs of American bureaucracy. Without question, Mr. Romney’s tenure as the governor of Massachusetts has prepared him in this capacity. America’s governors are constantly tasked with balancing both state and federal bureaucratic instructions –– experience that will be incredibly useful in Foggy Bottom.
Finally, America’s chief diplomat must have strong leadership capabilities. In representing America’s interests abroad, the Secretary of State must have a keen awareness of how a leader should behave and function. With Mr. Romney at the helm of the State Department, President-elect Trump would not have to worry as to whether his choice fulfilled this criterion. Mr. Romney’s leadership built one of the foremost capital investment firms in the nation, helped to turn around one of the world’s largest financial consulting firms, reformed and reorganized a decaying Olympic bid and worked to bring fiscal order to the state of Massachusetts. Mitt Romney is the very definition of a strong, capable leader.
Despite Mr. Romney’s tremendous qualifications for the post, the last couple of days have seen a flurry of criticisms and backlashes at the thought of a Secretary Romney. One of the more reasonable criticisms is a concern over the governor’s qualifications for the post. Certainly, Romney has not served in any sort of diplomatic function before, and he has not, unlike our current Secretary of State, spent years on a Congressional foreign affairs committee. However, Mr. Romney’s policy positions in the 2012 race show a clear and capable understanding of America’s place in the world. Though he was denounced for his claim that Russia is America’s top geopolitical foe, Putin’s invasion of Crimea, intervention in Ukraine and bombing in Syria has all but vilified Romney. And though President Barack Obama mocked Romney for his desire to expand America’s navy, many of the nation’s leading defense and foreign affairs officials have concurred that growing American naval power is essential to maintaining our capacity to project power across the globe.
Yet these criticisms do not seem to be the most potent and newsworthy concerns. Instead, the claim that President-elect Trump would violate his supporters trust by nominating the governor seems to permeate media coverage. Many have claimed that the President-elect should never nominate Romney due to the governor’s hostility to Trump during the primaries. Yet, it is perhaps for that very reason that Romney should be appointed to the post.
Doris Kearns-Goodwin’s book, Team of Rivals, is one of the most influential historical texts of the 21st Century. The book outlines how President Lincoln appointed his rivals in the 1860 Republican primary, such as William H. Seward and Salmon Chase, to various cabinet posts. Though each of Lincoln’s rivals viciously attacked the former Illinois Congressman in the primaries, the president was willing to put aside political differences in the hope of unifying both the party and the nation. Lincoln’s example has continued to be followed throughout American political history. John F. Kennedy named his primary rival, Lyndon B. Johnson, as his running mate in 1960. Ronald Reagan appointed one of his fiercest critics in the 1980 Republican primaries, James Baker, to the posts of White House Chief of Staff and Secretary of the Treasury. And President Obama, of course, appointed his bitter primary rival, Hillary Clinton, to the post of Secretary of State eight years ago.
If history has taught us anything, it is that one cannot build political coalitions without presenting an olive branch to former rivals. Certainly, Romney fiercely attacked Trump during the primaries –– and Trump reciprocated by fiercely attacking Romney. But Governor Nikki Haley (R-S.C.) was also sharply critical of Trump, and now she is set to become the next Ambassador to the United Nations. If Mr. Trump wishes to build political coalitions and make amends within the fractured Republican Party, he would be wise to bring in those critical of his policies into his administration.
Michael Glanzel is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at [email protected] Cornell Shrugged appears alternate Thursdays this semester.