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Romney Willing to Win Without Honor

Could voters elect a president that lacks integrity?

BY Leo Gerard, United Steelworkers President

A simple statement from Romney would have sufficed: winning by means of voter suppression and registration fraud is craven and beneath the dignity of anyone seeking public office. But he said nothing.

Mitt Romney kept quiet last week when the subject was rape and God’s will. He remained silent the week before when the news was all about Illinois factory workers pleading with him to stop his alma mater Bain Capital from offshoring their jobs.

At no time this year did Mitt denounce Republican employers who threatened their workers if President Obama is re-elected or condemn repeated Republican legislative attempts to suppress Democratic votes.

Throughout the campaign, Mitt Romney confronted numerous George Washington moments — opportunities to establish an aura of honor. It takes moxie to tell fellow Republicans that voter suppression is un-American. Only a guy with strongly held principles would stand up to the firm he founded and insist they stop the morally bankrupt practice of offshoring jobs from profit-making American factories. At every turn, Romney chose the ignoble path. He kept his mouth shut rather than speak up for what’s right.

Just last week, an opportunity for righteousness landed in Romney’s lap. It happened when the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Indiana, Richard E. Mourdock, said he opposed all abortions, even in cases of rape, and suggested that God intends rape to happen. Here’s what Mourdock said:

“Even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, it is something that God intended to happen.”

Romney could have specifically renounced this view – that God intends women to be raped and become pregnant as a result. And he could have underscored that position by ending television ads in which he endorses Mourdock.

But he didn’t. A campaign spokeswoman said Mitt “disagreed” with Mourdock on that rape thing, but still supports him. Since then, Mitt has refused to answer questions about Mourdock.

And he’s kept airing his Mourdock endorsement ads.

Clearly, Mitt values a Republican-controlled U.S. Senate over a decent stand on rape.

Just the week before, heightened news coverage of the plight of workers at the Sensata factory in Freeport, Ill., gave Romney another opportunity to do the right thing.

He chose to do nothing.

The 170 workers at Sensata will lose their jobs at year’s end when Bain Capital finishes shipping the car sensor factory lock, stock and machinery to China. The workers have repeatedly petitioned Romney to intervene with Bain, a firm he created and still profits from, to stop the offshoring.

Romney stiffed them. The candidate who claims he would create 12 million jobs if elected president failed to make an attempt to save the jobs of these 170 workers at a successful, money-making American factory. He didn’t send the workers his condolences for personally profiting from their calamity. He has never even acknowledged the Sensata workers’ existence.

At virtually any moment as he ran for president over the past two years, Romney could have very publically deplored Republican attempts to suppress Democratic votes. That’s because virtually continuously over that time, Republican-controlled legislatures, Republican governors and other GOP officials have concocted a variety of measures to wrest from Democrats their right to vote. These include passing onerous photo ID requirements, limiting early balloting and aggressively purging voter rolls.

These measures disproportionately affect minority, poor, disabled, elderly and women voters, all of whom tend to vote Democrat. Among the most egregious examples occurred in Ohio where the secretary of state tried to limit poll hours in Democratic-dominated counties and extend them in Republican-controlled counties.

At any time during the massive publicity over any one of these incidents across the country – from Maine to Montana and Florida to Arizona – Romney could have stood up and spoken for fairness. He never did – not even after the Republican National Committee was forced to fire a shady voter registration firm that was caught in September submitting hundreds of fraudulent registration forms in Florida or after a Republican operative in Virginia was criminally charged in October with throwing completed voter registration forms in a Dumpster.

A simple statement from Romney would have sufficed: winning by means of voter suppression and registration fraud is craven and beneath the dignity of anyone seeking public office. But he said nothing.

Similar to voter suppression is the attempt at voter coercion that has been made by numerous employers this year. Just this past week, Mike White, owner of Rite-Hite, a Milwaukee industrial equipment manufacturer, threatened his workers with “personal consequences” if President Obama is re-elected. Earlier this month, timeshare mogul David Siegel, who is building himself a 90,000-square-foot, $100 million home, threatened to lay off his workers if President Obama is re-elected. Arthur Allen of ASG Software Solutions and the Koch brothers of Georgia Pacific, told their tens of thousands of workers they’d suffer fallout if Romney loses.

Romney could have acted as a shield for workers by condemning this intimidation. Instead, in a June conference call with business owners, Romney encouraged bullying. He told the business owners:

”I hope you make it very clear to your employees what you believe is in the best interest of your enterprise and therefore their job and their future in the upcoming elections.”

What Americans want is a president like George Washington. The general’s appeal is not the quirky wooden teeth or odd half-finished portrait. It’s the never-tell-a-lie, step-down-from-power nobility of the guy. Romney, by contrast, has shown he’s willing to win without honor. He doesn’t seem to know Americans won’t elect a candidate they believe lacks nobility.

Full disclosure: The United Steelworkers union is a sponsor of In These Times.

Leo Gerard is the president of the United Steelworkers International union, part of the AFL-CIO. Gerard, the second Canadian to lead the union, started working at Inco's nickel smelter in Sudbury, Ontario at age 18. For more information about Gerard, visit usw.org.

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