11.03.2012 _____________________

“How’d someone like that get to be your leader anyway?”

“Charisma. Circumstances, promises… Not enough of us spoke out to question him until it was too late. It happens on your planet, doesn’t it?” — Martin, a visitor.

V. The Visitors. In the 1980s, when my daughter was an infant and I did less travelling, one of my favorite TV programs was “The Visitors,” a sci-fi miniseries about aliens and their attempts to control Earth. The aliens appeared to be human but were really carnivorous, reptilian humanoids who wore a thin, synthetic skin and contact lenses.

The Visitors, knowing that they could be unmasked by truth, targeted science and ruled by deception. Their goal was to conquer the planet, steal its water, exploit its resources and harvest humans and other animals for food.

Today, Mitt Romney reminds me of the Visitor. True, I know he’s not an alien or a humanoid, but I don’t know how much to believe him. He tells me he comes in peace and wishes to share knowledge, but, as I never know which Romney is speaking, I don’t trust him. I think that not knowing who he is is dangerous for me, and for America.

Mr. Romney, wrapped in the American flag, a cross and an exclusivist world-view, is running for president on a promise of economic renewal, lower taxes and a more aggressive foreign policy. His campaign appeals to people’s fears and insecurities, while also attempting to delegitimize President Obama as being un-American.

From among Romney’s supporters, John Sununu has said he wishes, “this president would learn how to be an American,” while Mike Huckabee warns of Hell when he tells his followers “Your vote will affect the future and be recorded in eternity. Will you vote the values that will stand the test of fire?” From among some dog-whistles, Sarah Palin accuses President Obama of “shuck and jive,” Ann Romney says Obama is not “grown-up” enough to be president, a commentator calls the president “man-boy,” John Sununu calls him “lazy” and George Will calls him “indolent.”

Amidst this cacophony of disenfranchisement, Mr. Romney, sadly, is silent, unyielding in his distanced manner, seemingly hidden within a shell void of vision, passion or belief. Unable to disassociate himself from the rhetorical extremes of his followers, his silence seemingly empowers the fringes where bigotry and ignorance thrive.

The truth is you know who President Obama is, even if you don’t agree with him. You know where he was born, what he believes, whom he loves. Some of you who disagree with the president have unfortunately also embraced the false narrative of the ignorant and gullible — a narrative of The Other.

The truth is you don’t know who Mitt Romney is, even if you agree with him. It is Mitt Romney whom we don’t know. He remains an enigma, no discernable beliefs, no core and seemingly no passion.

Further, Romney has lied about work and welfare. He has lied about his past positions and future proposals. He has lied about Jeeps in China, FEMA and about climate change. I can’t believe him.

For me, Romney is the unknown one. He is a Visitor.

I, a Democrat, Progressive, need the Republican Party to be a sustainable creative force in the American public square. I need America to remain a nation of competing philosophies and shared aspirations. I need creative dialogue — and truth.

Where are the Republican truth-tellers?

I need Michael Steele, Joe Scarborough, David Brooks or Peggy Noonan to step up and say, “I want my party back.” America needs conservatives who have the courage to challenge those who have denied the nation an important opportunity to engage issues of philosophy and policy based on shared national interests and aspirations.

Where is the Republican who embodies the courage of George Romney, who, when he challenged Barry Goldwater, said, “With extremists of the right and left preaching and practicing hate, and bearing false witness on the basis of guilt by association and circumstantial rationalization and with such extremists rising to official positions of leadership in the Republican party, we cannot recapture the respect of the nation and lead it to its necessary spiritual, moral, and political rebirth if we hide our heads in the sand and decline to even recognize in our platform that the nation is again beset by modern ‘know-nothings.’”

Many of Romney’s extreme followers lack the courage to be self-critical; they sweat and squirm that Obama is some sort of foreign Socialist Manchurian anti-Christ candidate. If, as a voter you live in that environment do as you wish, but do not pretend to be speaking from some place of faith, intelligence or knowledge.

However, if you are a thinking Republican voting for Romney on philosophical issues I can only think that this is a very difficult election for you. How do you decide which Romney you’re voting for?

Your vote is sacred. Ask yourself: With whom do I stand?

I only ask that on Tuesday you stand for truth.

For those of you cast your vote based on prejudice I have neither sympathy nor understanding. Like the Hunger Game residents in The Capital of Panem, you have chosen to paint your faces and decorate your bodies in chalks and silks in a desperate attempt to be something other than what you are. By buying into extremist deceptions you have chosen to vote against the Constitution. Do not believe that by voting for Romney you will automatically be made welcome in the presence of Visitors and Plutocrats: they’re not interested in you. Their interests are global. Both the innocent and the ignorant are but cannon fodder in an existential battle to place authority in the hands of the few unaccountable plutocrats.

The tragedy is that by voting for Romney many Americans will be voting against their own interests. The radical economic and social agenda embraced by Romney and Ryan, by the Republican platform and by the rhetoric of the party’s right wing extremes will destabilize the Constitution and remove much of the promise of hope and opportunity for all Americans.
In its endorsement of President Obama, The Economist magazine, no friend of Democrats, wrote, “The problem is that there are a lot of Romneys — and they have committed themselves to a lot of dangerous things… He is still in the cloud-cuckoo-land of thinking that America’s fiscal problems can be solved entirely through spending cuts.” It concluded, “Mr. Romney has an economic plan that works only if you don’t believe most of what he says.”

“When men sell their souls, where do the souls go?” – Mary Oliver

This column appeared originally in the Portsmouth Herald.