As we get close to the November elections, it is important to remember that there are some politicians who have the courage and principles to speak truth to power. Mitt Romney’s father, George Romney, was one of them.
George Wilcken Romney (July 8, 1907 – July 26, 1995) was an American businessman and Republican Party politician. He was chairman and president of the American Motors Corporation from 1954 to 1962, the 43rd Governor of Michigan from 1963 to 1969, and the United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development from 1969 to 1973.
Romney ran for Governor of Michigan in 1962 as an independent-minded reformer defending the individual against the power of “Big Labor, Big Industry, and Big Government.” He was elected and then subsequently re-elected in 1964 and 1966 with increasingly large support. He succeeded in attracting businesses to the state and in cutting unemployment to below the national average. Romney had also inherited a substantial budget deficit, but he left office with a surplus. Romney also led the way for a large increase in state spending on education, and Michigan thereby began to develop one of the nation’s most comprehensive systems of higher education. (I went to the University of Michigan — Go Blue.)
In the 1964 U.S. presidential election, Senator Barry Goldwater quickly became the likely Republican Party nominee. Goldwater represented a new wave of American conservatism, of which the moderate Romney was not a part. Romney declared, “If [Goldwater’s] views deviate as indicated from the heritage of our Party, I will do everything within my power to keep him from becoming the Party’s Presidential nominee.” During the Fall 1964 general election, Romney cut himself off from the national ticket, refusing to appear on the same stage with Goldwater. When pressed at campaign appearances about whether he was supporting Goldwater, he replied, “You know darn well I’m not!” Romney was re-elected as Governor of Michigan in 1964 by a large margin, despite Goldwater’s landslide defeat to President Lyndon B. Johnson that swept away many other Republican candidates.
We need more politicians like George Romney in both parties, and we need them to work with each other to produce the kinds of results that George Romney produced in Michigan.
Click here to read more about George Romney and other historic Liberal Republicans.