With the election right around the corner, the presidential race is getting intense. Obama and Romney are neck and neck in the polls, my inbox is periodically inundated with emails asking for last minute donations, and I am beginning to fear that the election of Romney to the presidency is a real possibility.
There are so many unappealing things about the prospect of having Romney as president that it is nearly impossible to choose any one of them as the least appealing. However, there is one aspect of his campaign that has bothered me consistently both as something that I do not feel has been addressed widely enough, and something that I believe I have a slightly more personal understanding of than most. As a lifelong resident of Massachusetts, I cringe whenever he references one of his “achievements” as governor of Massachusetts. A large part of his campaigning has emphasized his success in creating jobs, improving education, and balancing the budget without raising taxes in Massachusetts, but unfortunately, much of what he says about his governorship is so skewed and misrepresented as to be no better than lies.
First of all, Romney did not really improve education in Massachusetts during his stint as governor. Massachusetts has always had a strong public education system, and although Romney did not make many cuts in school budgets or do much to negatively affect the already existing school system, he also did not do anything to actively improve the preexisting system. Furthermore, he threw his support wholeheartedly behind the Unz ballot initiative when he was running for governor, an initiative that, once passed, was actually a huge blow to education in the state. This initiative mandated that public schools in Massachusetts could not teach bilingual classes, which made learning and teaching much more difficult across the commonwealth. Furthermore, the dropout rate in the state doubled over the three years after the initiative passed, with a large percentage of the students dropping out being students who did not speak English as a first language, and thus a system that had worked well was scrapped for a system that was shaped by xenophobia.
Secondly, though it is true that Romney did not raise taxes as governor, he did cut state aid to many cities and towns, which resulted in those towns themselves raising property taxes on their residents. Thus, many working- and middle-class families did end up having to pay more taxes. Furthermore, rather than raising taxes even a small amount on the many upper-class residents of the state, he cut funding to many extremely important programs that disparately help working-class people, such as programs that provide aid to teen parents and provide aid to families living in poverty. As much as he tries to portray the changes that he made to the Massachusetts budget as solely positive, his policies negatively affected the poor. He also did not do as much for job creation as he claims. The job creation rate during his governorship was extremely low, only 0.9 percent (compare this to the national average of five percent), which meant that the job growth in Massachusetts ranked 49th in the country over the six years he was governor.
Furthermore, though Romney touts his time in Massachusetts as evidence of his commitment to bipartisanship, his record does not really support this claim. He issued over eight hundred vetoes during his time as governor, most of which were overturned by a Democratic Massachusetts House and Massachusetts Senate. The relationship that existed between him and the legislature was more of a struggle than a symbiotic relationship.
However, the one good thing that was actually accomplished under his governorship is the one thing that he seems to be strangely uncomfortable fully owning up to. The state-wide healthcare system passed under Romney did a lot of good for a lot of people, and was actually a model for the healthcare plan passed under Obama, commonly known as Obamacare. Though Romney’s plan was nearly identical to Obama’s, Romney continually criticizes Obama’s system and gives a skewed account of the plan passed during his term. For instance, Romney brags that he did not have to raise taxes in order to finance the plan, but conveniently leaves out that the federal government provided funding for most of the plan.
I already had to live through four years of Romney, four years of bemoaning his inability to achieve his economic goals without affecting poor people, of seeing the terrible outcome of a xenophobic initiative that he supported unfolding around me in my school, and of seeing the repeated clashes between him and the legislature play out on the television. He was antithetical to nearly everything that I feel Massachusetts stands for, and if elected president, I am certain that he will be antithetical to all the good that this country is capable of as well.
Reed E. McConnell ’15, a Crimson editorial writer, lives in Quincy House.