Romney’s problem with the radical right

Austin Gaddis

Since joining Congress in 2011, Florida Rep. Allen West has been a relentless, outspoken, notoriously loud – often-lauded – mouthpiece for the radical base of today’s Republican Party.

West regularly makes headlines by making outrageous remarks about Democrats and is never shy about jumping in front of a camera to spew his latest poison.

Despite significant backlash over his obvious and continuous breach of decorum, West unapologetically continues his bizarre political crusade, easily solidifying himself as the perpetual loudest moron in the room.

But West’s most recent comments about President Obama and social programs demonstrate the clear, absurd, idiosyncratic ideology of the politicians who stem from and cater to the modern radical conservative base.

Recently, West has blatantly crossed the line by accusing the president of promoting “modern, 21st century slavery” through programs like Social Security disability insurance.

“[Obama] does not want you to have the self-esteem of getting up and earning and having that title of American…He’d rather you be his slave,” West told a crowd at a rally in his home district.

When asked earlier this week on Fox News Sunday to clarify those comments, West did not backtrack. Instead, he upped the ante by saying that, “we should not regret telling the truth in the United States of America.”

Perhaps the only slight insight we gained from Sunday’s interview was that West is, thankfully, not a member of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s inner circle; which he was clear to point out when disagreeing with Romney’s economic policy.

Ironically, despite the Romney campaign publicly distancing themselves from loose cannons like Allen West, both the campaign and West strongly cater to nearly the same base of supporters.

Over the past several months, Romney has had numerous opportunities to take a clear and objective stance on issues that have overwhelmingly energized voters, such as same-sex marriage, immigration policy, the future of healthcare in the country and crippling economic reports.

But on all of these issues, Romney’s positions seem about as clear as mud. He’s either short and vague in his answers or aggressively defensive, taking viewpoints and utilizing talking points to appease some of the most extreme members of the Republican Party.

The individuals that prescribe to this detrimental conservative ideology are flawed in their views of true liberty and freedom, seeking to set back decades of social progress. They wish to deny basic civil rights to their neighbors, continually ignore the need for comprehensive immigration reform, and have no reasonable alternative to fix a broken healthcare system or economy.

Yet, these are the positions Romney takes, and these are the voters he tailors his message to.

Based on Romney’s past remarks and positions taken in his political career, we know that he can’t truly believe everything he’s saying or some of the positions he’s taking out on the campaign trail – almost every candidate will say what it takes to get elected.

There’s no question that some of the most conservative Americans are also the wealthiest, and their unlimited bank accounts no doubt play a major role in the campaign’s direction and target audience.

However, Romney’s unwillingness to tone down the vast ultra-conservative influence within his campaign has left moderate Republicans and independents at a confusing crossroad as we head into fall’s final stretch of the campaign.

Over the course of the next several months, Romney’s team should focus on social and economic policies that are more appealing to moderate Americans looking for an alternative to Obama, finally ending Romney’s yearlong love affair with hyper-partisan hyperbole.

Austin Gaddis is a senior columnist majoring in communication studies and public relations.