Romney Is the Best of Options I Don't Like

Yahoo Contributor Network

After Tuesday's primaries in Michigan and Arizona, Yahoo! News asked voters in 10 Super Tuesday states to look ahead to March 6's primaries. Below is a perspective from a voter.

FIRST PERSON | Columbus, Ohio, is ground zero in the Republican fight for the presidential nomination. But last fall, my hometown, where I've worked for the past 12 years as a public high school teacher, was ground zero for a different fight. Columbus was the center for the debate over public employee union-busting legislation favored by Ohio Gov. John Kasich. The results from Tuesday's Michigan primary tipped the scales for me: I'll vote for Mitt Romney this coming Super Tuesday. Here's why.

Because each of the four main remaining Republican candidates supported Kasich during heated national public discourse on the collective bargaining issue, I have plenty of reason for dissatisfaction with the GOP slate of candidates.

I'm fully aware many Republicans believe unions enjoy too much political and economic influence. GOP candidates highlight this charge (to round applause) in their campaign-stop polemics. Of course, via referendum last fall, Ohio voters overwhelmingly rejected Kasich-supported curbs on public employee union strength. Like many public employees, I can't stomach voting for a candidate who campaigns on a platform that frames collective bargaining as not only wrong, but borderline un-American.

Perhaps I've learned to support unions because, unlike all four main GOP nomination contenders, I'm of humble means. For me, job security equals family security. The minimal protections my union provides from irrational executive decision-makers make teaching viable as a career choice for a man who wants to support his family with stability and dignity.

I'm likely to share numerous commonalities with Michigan Republican primary voters, who may view unions more sympathetically due to the long auto worker union history in Detroit. Like me, many Michigan Republicans also worry more about our country's economy than anachronistic social issues such as contraceptive availability. Here in the nation's political and economic heartland, our wants are modest: secure jobs, access to healthcare, and a brighter future for our children.

Santorum's inability to wrest a Michigan primary victory from Romney proved to me that Santorum has neither the political views nor charisma needed to unite moderate and socially conservative Republicans. As the latest further-right GOP option, Santorum was Republicans' best hope for a unifying candidate. But Santorum squandered that opportunity by centering his social conservatism via hardline rhetoric regarding access to contraceptives. Santorum's Michigan "loss" showed me that, as a candidate, he won't keep his focus on jobs and the economy.

Romney keeps the focus on money, to be sure, by gaffing on the weekly over his NASCAR-owner friends and his wife's multiple cars. But Romney has patiently defended himself from far-right attacks, and his (relatively) moderate social conservatism has proved attractive to voters scared off by other candidates' extreme stances.

I'm a teacher from Columbus, Ohio. I don't expect Romney to understand my career, my finances, or my family. But I do expect our next president to stabilize our economy, keep us safe, and stay the hell out of as much of the rest of my life as he can.

Romney's Michigan "win" proved he's my best option. We might not align closely enough that I'll give him my active support. But he's good enough, at least, to get my vote on Tuesday.

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