What should we make of Mitt Romney? In 2011 and 2012, the middle and the left saw him as "fiercely conservative." The right never quite bought into it: his conservative performances earned him support but distrust. During the 2012 general election, the Obama campaign successfully painted him as too rightwing for the times. Since 2018, as a Senator, he has been cheered by the left and the right's distrust turned to open contempt.
On the one hand, you could see this evolution in perception as reflecting an evolution in the politician himself: as Romney moved towards the center, the establishment embraced him. What's fascinating is his self-perception: he doesn't think he's changed, but that his party and its political factions changed around him. He thinks he's taking the same approach he did as Olympics chair, Massachusetts governor, and presidential candidate.
You kind of wonder if the people who tagged Romney as an ideological extremist in 2012 regret it: when you call his 'binders full of women' comments the worst kind of sexism, you don't have much rhetoric left when someone like Trump appears.
When Romney announced his retirement, former president Trump said some rude things about him. It's likely that Romney's replacement will be less a statesman and more an ideologue. This sort of thing makes me think Romney is right: the political world has tilted since he was the GOP nominee. The first link, an except from McKay Coppins's biography of Romeny, is a really interesting read: what's it like to see these shifting politics from the inside?
Why the shift? The second link this week, an interview with Jon Ward, illustrates the plate tectonics: a large part of rightwing are retired Evangelicals, people who last supported a Democrat in 1976.
How Evangelical Christians Went From Jimmy Carter to Donald Trump
Many white evangelical Christians love Donald Trump; evangelicals are now less likely to attend church and less likely to embrace some of the faith's bedrock beliefs. Are these trends related?