Why Mitt fits the times

My essay last week here at The Hill, "Suddenly Mitt Romney," has been cited in the British press and a rash of articles on Romney have appeared, even one in the liberal online magazine Slate, urging him to run. Possibly Romney's moment is at hand.

Here are four convergent trends which favor Romney.

First: Something happened in Iowa recently: a twist of fate which could bring the 2012 Republican nominee to the presidency. In an Iowa poll, voters were asked who they would prefer in 2016. Most candidates hovered together around 10 percent or so. When Romney was added to the list he pulled 35 percent and all others dropped to single digits. In 2008, when Romney spent millions in Iowa, he was beaten by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.). This possibly related to the Mormon factor, swinging conservatives to the Southern Baptist preacher instead. Now the Mormon issue appears to have been resolved. This finally opens the gate to Romney and offers him a new incentive to run in 2016.

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Second: Some historians see historic eras running sequentially. When the "avatar" of one era dies, the age dies as well and a new era soon begins. We are at the end now of an age correctly identified by political analyst Larry Sabato as the "Kennedy Half-Century." President Obama might be considered the last "Kennedy." Whoever wins ahead will potentially begin a new era and, if he choses to run, it would be Romney's. Any new era rising is almost certain to be Western in character as demographics on population and economy today invariably head west across the Mississippi. Either Romney, with Midwestern roots and an even older Western lineage or Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) would naturally initiate such an age — as Roosevelts and Kennedys dominated when capital flowed out of the Northeast.

Third: Historic ages likewise alternate light and dark; as one age saves, the next squanders. If Victorians were a model of personal virtuous behavior, the next would be philanderers at the Marlborough House. It is possible to see our own times descending in culture and morality, but for every cultural force in one direction, there will be an equal and opposite counter force ahead. America today, where, as CBS reported last year that 48 percent of first births are out of wedlock, is on the verge of breakage. Romney's personal "family values" could potentially bring a positive new countervailing cultural cycle in personal values and unified regional cultures.

Fourth: America increasingly turns today to familiar families — Clinton, Cuomo, Kennedy, Bush — for governance instead of to political positions or parties. It may seem a descent into monarchy; that we need to trust in something beyond the vote and seek lights brighter than Bono and Bob Geldof. Perhaps we do. Perhaps “bread and circus” democracy and the restless and compulsive extraversion of global hegemony is not fulfilling enough for a mature people. But as we looked to Kennedys for 50 years, and Roosevelts for 50 years and England to Queen Victoria for even longer, that same inclination today suggests the American condition to be in evolution and will likewise apply to whomever next succeeds. And Romney does have five very competent-looking sons (while Hillary, soon to be 67, has so far only one grandchild on the horizon, and they are almost out of Kennedys). Coming in a new century and a new millennium, classically the times of greatest optimal cultural and societal change, a rising "Romney half century" could have portent and meaning beyond politics and change the cultural fabric of America.

Quigley is a prize-winning writer who has worked more than 35 years as a book and magazine editor, political commentator and reviewer. For 20 years he has been an amateur farmer, raising Tunis sheep and organic vegetables. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and four children. Contact him at quigley1985@gmail.com.

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