Two weeks after Mitt Romney accumulated the 1,144 delegates required to become the Republican presidential nominee, two months after his only viable competition dropped out, and half a year after anyone with access to basic fundraising disclosures knew he would eventually win, Joe Scarborough announced to the world he voted for Ron Paul.
Scarborough's op-ed begins by contrasting Paul with Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich, which, in my humble opinion, is an utterly nonsensical undertaking because Romney has already won the nomination. Elections are about choices, and the Republican nominee has already been chosen. Protest voting is the ultimate form of mental masturbation; the protester's principled act gives him all the satisfaction of rejecting the established choice, without forcing him to bear any of the burdens of being genuinely anti-establishment. As soon as he's done with his symbolic ritual he goes right back to defending the Republican Party nominee on his cable TV show.
Anyway, let's get inside his thought process:
I operate on instinct. So I should not have been surprised by my own gut reaction to the absentee ballot that lay before me on the kitchen table.
I scanned the list for Republican primary candidates and let instinct take over.
Mitt Romney? Not on your life. A big government Republican who will say anything to get elected.
Rick Santorum? No way. A pro-life statist who helped George W. Bush double the national debt.
Newt Gingrich? Ideologically unmoored. A champion of liberty one day, a central planner the next.
Ron Paul? Yep. I quickly checked his name and moved on to a far more complex task: fixing my daughter a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
After spending six months analyzing each candidate’s every move for three hours a day, five days a week, it never occurred to me that my decision to vote for the quirky congressman from Texas would happen as fast as a tornado whipping through an Amarillo parking lot.
I am truly amazed at Scarborough's instincts. He spent "six months analyzing each candidate’s every move for three hours a day, five days a week," and his big takeaway is that Romney's a big government Republican? The same Mitt Romney who would rather default on our national debt than raise taxes a single penny? The same Mitt Romney who wants to give $265,000 tax breaks to the average millionaire at the same time he slashes healthcare and raises taxes on the elderly, poor, and disabled? The same Mitt Romney who wants to make life so miserable for illegal immigrants that they voluntarily "self-deport?" Mitt Romney is an unconditionally obedient, empty vessel for the most reactionary forces that have ever controlled the Republican Party. To think he will suddenly take a sharp turn to the center if elected president is to misunderstand the institutional pressures and political incentives any contemporary Republican leader faces. Romney will challenge the Tea Party to his primary reelection's peril.