Nov 04 2012

If Romney Wins, What Can We Expect in Space?

Published by at 5:20 pm under Wave Guide 3: Politics

In May, 2008, shortly after the founding of this website, Rachel and I asked a similar question about then candidate Obama. We noted that his timing was a little early because the next John F. Kennedy-like president should appear closer to 2016 or possibly 2012, based on our calculation that the next Critical State/Maslow Window is expected near mid-decade, in partial response to an anticipated “Sputnik-like event” during this interval as well as the financial Panic of 2008.

Could the Romney of today, transform into the new JFK-like Space President?
(Mitt Romney speaks at Astrotech Space Operations, Cape Canaveral in January, 2012. Photo by Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images.)

On June 5, 2008 Rachel and I saw parallels between Obama and JFK — especially that Obama appeared to be an “adaptable leader and a quick study” — and we speculated that he might lead us to Mars. Unfortunately, these hopes have not worked out — Click “Obama on Space — The New Eisenhower or JFK?” — and given Obama’s current self-inflicted political status, it’s unlikely Obama could transform himself into a JFK-style space president even if he won a second term.

With the election only a few days away, veteran political observer Michael Barone (author of The Almanac of American Politics, 2012) has called for a major Romney electoral win of 315 – 223. And today both the New York Times and Washington Post — both friendly to Obama — admit that the race is tied. In neutral language, that probably means: Give the edge to Romney.

So it’s of real interest to try to imagine what Romney would do as President of the United States with space exploration.

To begin, it’s important to realize that space has not been a front-burner issue in this campaign, mainly because of the very slow recovery from the Great Recession of 2008-10. Indeed, the Democratic Platform doesn’t even mention space, while Republicans recognize that space is important because of its connections to 1) technological innovation, 2) national security, and 3) national pride. These might provide initial clues to Romney’s approach.

Romney’s website provides no direct mention of space in its issue list, but it’s vision statement is revealing:

The foundations of our nation’s strength are a love of liberty and a pioneering spirit of innovation and creativity.

It appears that Romney excels in three key areas that are the cornerstone of an Apollo-level space initiative:

I. A Focus on Prosperity.
Romney’s stated purpose is a return to prosperity. He believes that “liberty, opportunity, and free enterprise have led to prosperity and strength before and will do so again.” Romney received a joint J.D./M.B.A. from Harvard because he was analytical and could integrate new data into his success-oriented thinking. Over the last 200+ years, a return to prosperity via JFK-style growth is always the trigger to transformative exploration and technology booms. Like JFK before his election, Romney is not especially interested in space exploration, but his business background and focus on prosperity could move the U.S. in this direction.

II. A Focus on Pioneering Spirit.
The fact that Romney chose to emphasize a “pioneering spirit of innovation and creativity” in his vision statement (see above) as the secret of America’s success and still the promise of its future suggests that, like JFK, Romney will recognize key Apollo-style forks in the road as they arise. Indeed, the pioneering spirit, driven by a JFK-style boom, is the essence of “ebullience” which took Americans from the seminal explorations of Lewis and Clark to the surface of the Moon in less than 200 years!

III. A Focus on Leadership.
It’s almost a cliché to note that Romney has demonstrated exceptional leadership in both his business career and in politics. Indeed, his experience in the private sector might be important to expanding commercial space. On January 27, 2012 seven prominent leaders in the space world — chaired by Scott Pace (possible future NASA boss under Romney), and including Apollo astronaut Gene Cernan, and former NASA Administrator Michael Griffin — endorsed Romney’s visionary leadership:

Restoring the U.S. space program to greatness will require the leadership, management skill, and commitment to American exceptionalism possessed by only one candidate in this race: Mitt Romney.

Would Romney display the JFK-style of leadership which led to his courageous choice of landing a man on the Moon before the end of the 1960s? Mindful of our earlier miscalculations relating to President Obama, it’s clear that no one can predict that.

However, Romney’s focus on prosperity, pioneering spirit, and leadership would create the foundation — demonstrated repeatedly by transformative exploration and technology booms over the last 200+ years — required for human expansion into the cosmos.

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