No Apology, The Case for American Greatness by Mitt Romney, St Martin's Press 2010, 309pp plus index
I don't think there is any doubt that Mitt Romney plans to run for president again in 2012 and this book can be regarded as laying out his campaign agenda. However even without that it is a book well worth reading. Today our president is often called the “apologizer in chief.” Many in our government seem offended by the idea that the U.S. is anything special, some going so far as to claim that we should become subservient to the UN. This book provides a breath of fresh air in that regard. Romney makes it clear that he believes a strong United States is good for the entire world, besides being good for our citizens.
As described in this book, the U.S. has been the light to the world in terms of both freedom and technological progress. Our actions drove the Soviet Union to break up and our example has inspired people throughout the world to seek freedom. Meanwhile we have put a man on the moon, developed computers, many medical technologies, etc. While the U.S. is not perfect, it is a shining light on a hill to the rest of the world.
The author describes four strategies (as he calls them) competing in the world today:
1. Economic and personal freedom exemplified by the United States.
2. Economic but no personal freedom, exemplified by China.
3. Use of oil and other natural resources to attain world domination, exemplified by Russia today.
4. The jihad theory of the fanatic wing of Islam that wants to force their version of Islam on others...
Only the first, both economic and personal freedom, will satisfy our citizens, and only that strategy will lead to happiness, freedom, and real progress in the countries where it is practiced.
Today we face serious challenges from the other three strategies, all of which are practiced by tyrants who seek world domination. However the U.S. has never sought world domination, instead we freed and helped nations such as Germany and Japan after we defeated them in wars forced upon us. That is one reason we are an example to the world. However we must face the reality that there are tyrants in the world and those tyrants want to dominate us and destroy our way of life. In Romney's (and my) opinion, the current U.S. leaders are not facing up to that reality. He lays out his own plans for dealing with them.
Domestically we also have problems, including economic freedom, education, and health care. Romney is clear that the Obama health care plan (passed after this book was written) is very different from the Massachusetts plan established while he was governor there and he believes the Obama plan is terrible.
In terms of education, he describes many real reforms that have been effective but are generally blocked by teachers' unions. We should remember that those unions represent their members. They have no duty to represent students or parents and of course do not represent those people. Here Romney believes in hard data and analysis thereof. He believes teachers and administrators must be held accountable and he has data to show results when such is done. In fact he says that there is nothing wrong with teaching to the test if the test really measures what students should be learning. He also wants to encourage more students to study math, science and engineering, areas where the U.S. is falling behind.
Related to education, Romney believes that our economy will fall behind unless we improve education and produce more graduates in the sciences and engineering. We produce many rock stars, actors etc. but must import scientists and engineers. In fact he wants to change the current rules that allow foreign students to get advanced degrees here only on the condition that they leave the country after graduation. That policy deprives us of exactly the people who could move our economy forward.
The author does maintain a positive note throughout. While he describes the problems we face, he also points out that we have faced and overcome problems in the past and the people can do so again.
My biggest criticism of this book is that it does not say much about he author's belief about our constitution. I would have liked to see a description of his belief in the constitution and what he expects in judicial nominees. After all, he belongs to a religion which holds that constitution as at least partly inspired.
Romney clearly believes that the U.S. can and must remain strong, but he also states that the Democratic Party is working against that. “On almost every policy issue that would have an impact on our nation's strength [the Democratic Party] chooses the course of weakness. It justifies the choice by insisting that it is attempting to help the disadvantaged, but in reality, surely the most important thing we can do for the disadvantaged is to sustain a strong, prosperous, and safe America. Too often, I fear, the Democratic Party is focused less on the disadvantaged than on union bosses, trial lawyers, environment extremists, and the self-interested who want higher government benefits for themselves paid for by higher taxes on others.” (p290)
I recommend that all citizens read this book before the next presidential election. Even should Romney not be the Republican nominee, it lays out some points that we should consider. Should he win that nomination it will describe what we can expect from him.