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The Virtue Politics of Mitt Romney

The Virtue Politics of Mitt Romney

Are hypocrisy and moral posturing good for American democracy?

As the leaders of the major political parties show stark signs of advanced age, their supporters are bending over backwards to defend their own while criticizing their opponents. Politics at its purest.

This week, Shadi and Damir return from summer break to dive into the latest developments in D.C. as the next election looms. They discuss the self-interest and rank hypocrisy of the Republican Party conveyed in a new, fascinating profile of Senator Mitt Romney. Is the GOP irredeemable? The conversation heats up as the guys arrive at the intersection of hypocrisy, politics, and morality. Damir the cynic questions whether Romney’s pieties are all that impressive. Shadi, the moralist, lauds Romney as an exemplar of virtue politics—inextricably linked to Romney’s Mormon faith. Hypocrisy, Shadi argues, entails rather than negates morality. But of course there is such a thing as too much hypocrisy. Where to draw the line?

In the full episode (for paying subscribers only) Shadi and Damir grapple with how events shaped by establishment politicians dating back to the nineties ought to be viewed today. The guys discuss how fear of worst-case political outcomes scrambles an adherence to one’s moral and political beliefs. Damir argues that while he sympathizes with anti-Trump Republicans like Romney, their moral posturing doesn’t resolve fraught political questions. Shadi expresses concerns about the situation Democrats find themselves. In their obsession with avoiding a Trump victory, they may be making the the very outcome they fear more likely.

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Required Reading:

  • “We Need to Talk About Biden,” by Derek Hudson (Wisdom of Crowds).

  • “What Mitt Romney Saw in the Senate,” by McKay Coppins (The Atlantic).


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Appears in episode
Damir Marusic
Shadi Hamid