Most of the time when people think about the Baby Boom Generation, what comes to mind is sex, drugs and rock-n-roll. This includes a generation that is characterized by pampering, overindulgence, pushing the social limits, liberal attitudes and liberal politics.
However, there is another side to the first cohort of the Boomers; it is “Leave it to Beaver," “Father Knows Best," and “Ozzie and Harriet," the play by the rules group. If we look at the 1978 movie “Animal House”; the characterization of the split in the two groups is clearly personified. The wild side of the Boomers is the Omega Theta Pi House. They are the rule breakers and obsessed with sex, drugs and rock-n-roll. Whereas, the other side of the Boomer coin is represented by the Delta Tau Chi House representing the conventional, play by the rules, unquestioning and aversive to risk.
Of the first two cohort Boomer Presidents; Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, they are more closely related to Omega House. Barack Obama who is technically a Boomer, but a second Cohort, doesn’t fall into either the Omega House or the Delta House; he represents the younger Boomers who were too young to face Vietnam, the social unrest of the Civil Rights Movement and too old to be caught up in the extreme selfishness and materialism of the Gen-Xers.
Mitt Romney is the best representation of the antithesis to a Bill Clinton and George Bush. He grew up in a culture that was based on strict adherence to rules and order. Although his father, George W. Romney, was a self made man requiring a number of risk taking ventures; Mitt was born into a family that had already achieved wealth and prominence. As such, he was sheltered from his family’s lean years and struggles, growing up in an upper class environment. We have to understand that Mitt Romney and his ancestral line are directly linked to the Mormon (LDS) aristocracy through Parley P. Pratt, one of the founders of the Mormon Church and a Church Apostle. This has an important meaning to Mitt Romney and other faithful Mormons.
With his ancestry, he has automatic credibility with members of his church. Mormons, in general, are very concerned about public perception, especially those of the Mormon aristocracy. I surmise that Mitt was carefully taught about his role and expectations. The Mormon Culture, especially during the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s were struggling to become considered mainstream and leave behind the reputation of being some kind of aberrant and strange religious group. Therefore, they became obsessed with building and maintaining an image of mediocrity. This also clearly is reflected in Mitt’s personality and public image; one of mediocrity.
Keeping within his culture; Mitt can only be characterized as conventional, fiscally and politically conservative, understated and more comfortable in working behind the scenes rather than in full public view. This is a characteristic that would describe most important Mormon leaders. The Mormon Church is highly organized into a hierarchical pyramid structure. The Church sets the tone and rules from the top for the membership and expects it to be followed. Mitt freely admits in his 65 years that he has never tried alcohol, tobacco, coffee or illicit drugs. This is in keeping with the Church’s “Words of Wisdom”, where such use is strictly prohibited.
Another highly prized value of the Mormon Culture is that of hard work and business success. This has been part of the Church since its founding. The early Church, under Joseph Smith’s leadership, was characterized with banking and land speculation scams, which has been left far behind. Now, the Church is led by successful business leaders, deeply rooted in all aspects of business. This is especially important since the Church manages such large assets. Mitt is a classic example of the Mormon Church leader and I’m sure that once his political career is finished he will be called to join the Twelve Apostles and possibly become the President of the LDS Church.
The political left sees Mitt as someone to lead the Tea Party Conservative Revolution. However, he is anything but a populist fire breathing revolutionary. If you want to understand what kind of conservative he really is, then look to the Mormon Church. Because of his culture he will not be one to go to conservative extremes. He will not push the conservative agenda too far in fear of creating too much social unrest and dissonance, which he is ill equipped to manage. His forte is conformity and not rocking the boat. He will support changes to the abortion laws and restrictions on same sex marriages, which is the Mormon Church’s positions. Other than those two social conservative issues, that will be the extent of his social conservative positions.
The political right is looking for a charismatic leader to lead their revolution. Again, this is not Mitt Romney. He is neither a charismatic nor committed to populist causes. He is a conformist. He will provide only the necessary leadership on the Church supported issues. Going beyond the fairly safe issues will not happen. I think that the right will be as frustrated with Mitt’s slightly right of center performance as the left has been disappointed with Obama’s centrist position.
Romney doesn’t represent the “boogie man” the left fears and he doesn’t represent the long sought messiah of the right. Mitt represents mediocrity at best. His ultimate life goal doesn’t reside in Washington DC, but in Salt Lake City’s Temple Square.