The Globe’s editorial board rightly argued yesterday that Mitt Romney should defend his record as the governor of Massachusetts — including the state’s landmark health care legislation — as he launches his probable campaign for the GOP nomination in 2012. But the editorial didn’t go far enough: It's not only Romney who should embrace his record on health care reform. Conservatives should as well. Far from being an albatross around Romney's neck, the former governor's health-care legacy proves that he is by far the strongest, most innovative, credible, and conservative GOP hopeful who could take on President Obama.
Here are three reasons why:
1) Conservatives like the concept of states, not the federal government, experimenting with public policies to determine their relative merits. Have you ever seen the phrase, “states as laboratories of democracy?” Do you agree with the concept? If so, credit Mitt Romney with the leadership and skill to negotiate a thoughtful compromise with the Massachusetts state legislature to get uninsured citizens health care coverage.
2) Conservatives like the concept of tailoring solutions to the unique circumstances in states and localities. Has Romney ever endorsed every element of the Massachusetts legislation as a viable, nationwide solution? Of course he hasn’t. To the contrary, credit Romney with having the guts to step up and admit that certain elements of the plan didn’t work the way his team had anticipated, particularly in light of last minute changes by the state legislature.
3) Conservatives like the concept of utilizing input from private enterprise in building public solutions. During Mitt Romney’s planning and legislative negotiations in Massachusetts, he brought the Heritage Foundation into the process and gave their free-market geniuses a seat at the table. Let me repeat that: Romney gave the deep red Heritage Foundation a seat at the table in blue state Massachusetts to help craft the state’s health care reform.
GOP primary voters will surely have a variety of options to consider for their nomination in 2012. But if the former Massachusetts governor does enter the race, it should be with a robust sense of confidence that what he accomplished was a sterling example of conservative success. He should embrace his record, and conservatives should follow suit.
Nick Tzitzon is a government accountability consultant and former aide to Governors Romney and Cellucci. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.