An open letter to candidate Mitt Romney
Congratulations, former Governor Romney. After flirting with a man whose name shall remain un-Googled, your party has decided to settle down with a candidate whose own press secretary compared to an Etch A Sketch, ready to "shake up and restart all over again" to appeal to voters outside the Fox News universe. You may not have secured the majority of delegates, but your remaining primary opponents are a gadfly with ideas plucked straight from science fiction - and Newt Gingrich. The nomination is yours. Send your unaffiliated Super PAC an anonymous thank-you note. After six years in beta testing and a quick deletion of your health care file, you only need one more reboot for the general election. Before you trigger the political reset button, we respectfully offer our advice on how to re-program yourself to swoop up persuadable Rice Owl voters.
To make inroads inside the hedges, you may want to clarify your past comments on access to higher education. When asked about your plan to reduce college costs, you said, "Go to one that has a little lower price where you can get a good education. And hopefully you'll find that." You were right about one thing, Romney. Expanding financial assistance when college tuition is soaring at public and private universities would have made for a popular promise - not to mention an economically sound investment in our nation's future. Opposing the DREAM Act, a bill which would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who served in the military or graduated from college, wasn't prudent, either. Those policies played well with the Tea Party crowd, but now it's time to pivot. You won't see many tricorner hats at Coffeehouse.
Stating that the federal government should "get rid of" Planned Parenthood's funding may have caused Rush Limbaugh to quiver with excitement, but pathbreaking political science research shows that alienating up to half the electorate poses a barrier to victory. If running on the issues proves too difficult, we humbly suggest that you shift focus to building your street cred. Start by leaving the singing to President Barack Obama, even if that means never getting to belt out the lyrics to "Who Let the Dogs Out?" in public again.
Your decision to join Washington Republicans and embrace Congressman Paul Ryan's budget helped win over wavering conservative voters. Unfortunately, cutting college Pell Grants (awarded to 15 percent of Rice students), National Science Foundation, and National Institutes of Health research funding and early childhood education in order to finance tax breaks for your fellow multimillionaires does not seem to resonate with students whose families are still reeling from the 2008 financial crisis.
The good news, Romney, is that the Ryan plan does not reduce the national debt at the expense of the middle class and the poor. The bad news is that the plan does not reduce the national debt at all. When the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center finds that your "path to prosperity" creates a $4.6 trillion revenue shortfall over the next decade without specifying a way to pay for itself, you may find it easier to propose a budget without any pesky numbers.
You once assured us that you would never "light [your] hair on fire" to win the nomination, and despite a few embers here and there, your immaculate mane has escaped the primary largely unscorched. Your pants, however, are another story. You recently claimed that Obama "failed" to approve sanctions on Iran. In fact, Obama has issued three separate executive orders to that effect, one in 2010 and two in 2011. If the facts aren't polling well, you could always avoid taking a clear position. When asked if you planned to eliminate any federal departments, you replied, "The answer is yes, but I'm not going to give you a list right now." A wise move, Romney: Empty words rarely scare away votes.
Words, of course, still matter to student voters. You have lambasted Obama for "spend[ing] too much time at Harvard" and being "tentative, indecisive, timid and nuanced." We were surprised to hear those ostensible insults coming from your crimson tongue. (You do, after all, have one more Harvard degree than Obama does!) While we Rice students will concede that no one should spend too much time at our northern counterpart, we nonetheless tend to value our critical thinking skills, and rarely are we castigated for being nuanced - much less continuing our educations in Cambridge.
With seven months to go before Owls and students across the nation go to the polls, you still have time to reprogram for the final stretch. While premature pundits are quick to write off your candidacy, you remain a very competitive challenger, especially if the 2 million young people who have health insurance because of ObamaCare don't go to the polls this November. Romney, your path to the presidency is clear: Shake that Etch A Sketch one more time.
Myles Bugbee is a Hanszen College senior and Kevin Bush is a Duncan College senior.
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