A while back, a friend of mine on Facebook re-posted some comments touting Mitt Romney’s past work in business as a reason to vote for him for President. I’ve seen that strain of argument quite frequently, particularly from conservatives. For example, I saw this in my feed just this morning:
These arguments confuse the fact of Romney being a capitalist with his being pro-capitalist. Obviously, a person can be the former without being the latter. That happens because Marx was wrong: ideology is not determined by a person’s role in the economy.
Here’s what I wrote in reply to my friend:
I wish that good businessmen made good politicians. But alas, it’s just not true — in theory or in practice.
Time and again, we’ve seen businessmen fail miserably as politicians. (Bloomberg, anyone?) The problem is that earning profits within a given political system is very, very different from managing that political system. The purpose of the state is to protect rights, not earn profits, and a businessman is no more likely to understand and respect rights than any other random joe on the street.
Hence, “turning a business around” is a wholly different kind of activity than “turning the country around.” A person’s success in business doesn’t suggest in any way, shape, or form that they’ll do good in politics — as Romney’s record as governor shows in spades, particularly in health care. The man is the proud grandfather of ObamaCare.
It’s a bit odd to me that the argument persists, given that we’ve already got so many counter-examples. It’s completely bizarre to use it with a statist like Romney.
If you want to vote for Mittens, by all means, go forth and vote for Mittens. However, I’d recommend doing so based on his track record in politics, not in business.