Sunday, February 27, 2005
Mitt Romney, governor of a state he hates.
I've had it with Governor Romney, who badmouths the state that elected him whenever he's somewhere else. In his "I Wish Massachusetts Were More Like Utah" speech last week, Romney said: "America cannot continue to lead the family of nations around the world if we suffer the collapse of the family here at home." (It's an allusion to a popular bit of Mormon folk wisdom, incidentally: "No success compensates for failure in the home.") Aside from the silliness of thinking U.S. prestige has been weakened among the world's leading nations because a few thousand gay couples have married in Massachusetts, I have to ask the governor: Do you really believe Utah is better for families than Massachusetts?
A few salient bits of data: Which state has a lower divorce rate? Massachusetts. Which major city's educational opportunities were ranked even higher than Salt Lake City's second-place showing in a Forbes magazine study last year? Boston. Which state has a higher rate of children living in poverty? Utah, at 13.6%. (The rate in Massachusetts is 12.3%.) According to the same study, sexual and psychological abuse of children constitute much higher percentages of reported child abuse in Utah than in Massachusetts (where, sadly, neglect seems to be a bigger problem): In Utah, sexual abuse constitutes 21.7% of abuse cases, compared to 3.6% in Massachusetts.
And although neighboring New Hampshire and Vermont came in first and third in the 2004 Most Livable State rankings — oh my gosh, do they not know that gay people are legal in Vermont? how can they lead the family of states around the nation? — lowly Massachusetts (ranked 16) still beat Utah (at 19) and the other conservative states Romney's been wooing recently: Missouri (20) and South Carolina (48). Hey red states: Get your houses in order before you mock mine. We're doing very well, thank you.
How about crime? Romney's chomping at the bit for the death penalty. But which state has consistently had a lower murder rate? Massachusetts. Meanwhile, the state of Utah itself reports that the number of rapes in Utah has more than doubled in the last decade, and that it now ranks 15th in the nation. Finding statistics on mass.gov is maddening, so the closest comparison I've found shows Massachusetts ranked 38th. (Utah cites the 2000 FBI Uniform Reports; the chart that ranks Massachusetts cites the 1999 reports. I haven't been able to find a comparison of both states from 2000.)
Wow. It sures look like things are going to hell here in Massachusetts, doesn't it? I could probably go on all day collecting statistics, but I'm sure none of it matters because we're talking about the collapse of the family, and when there are gay people to be afraid of, everything else just vanishes in the political fog.
Aside from indulging in a little polite gay-bashing with his friends, what exactly does Romney think Utah has that Massachusetts doesn't? Really, aside from a bunch of redundant and punitive anti-gay laws? I take him at his word that he loves living here in Massachusetts; I do, too. Like him, I prefer vacationing in Utah to living there. (Unlike him, I not only went to college in Utah, I grew up there.) He visits to burnish his right wing credentials and bask in the love of fellow Mormons who are proud that he's made it among crypto-socialist "Gentiles." But if there's one thing that really pisses me off, it's a conservative who has always lived in more liberal, cosmopolitan places but who claims he feels more at home among the conservatives. Prove it, Mitt. You want to run as a right-winger? Go ahead: Move to Utah.
When will Massachusetts Republicans finally give us a governor who actually wants to run this state rather than spending all his time preening for a national office? The one consolation I take is that no matter how much Romney panders to the right, Evangelicals just aren't ready for a Mormon president.
Update 2.27.05: The Globe says the governor is walking a political tightrope. He better have quite the balance pole. The Phoenix's Dan Kennedy interprets Mitt's newfound wingerdom as a sign that he won't run for re-election. Every cloud has a silver lining.
Copyright © 2005 by Philocrites | Posted 27 February 2005 at 12:44 PM