For months now, much has been made of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s pledge to eliminate the $146 million the United States spends on the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, appropriations that each make up one-twenty-five-thousandth (1/25,000th!) of the federal budget.
In my column for this month’s Modern Painters, I try to look not just at the extreme right-wing positions Mitt Romney 3.0 is taking in an an effort to win the votes of the Michele Bachmann set, but at his broader record.
As I wrote in the piece: Romney’s rhetoric is draconian, but what about his record? Given the opportunity to pursue that kind of slash-and-burn policy as governor, did Romney eliminate arts spending? What can voters learn about Romney’s position on arts funding from his tenure in Massachusetts and his comments since?
My analysis of Romney’s tenure as governor revealed a record more moderate than Romney’s campaign asserts. Just as in areas such as health care reform, Romney the candidate is running to the right of Governor Romney.
One other note: I contacted about a dozen arts leaders in Massachusetts searching for comment, context and details about the arts in the Romney years. Sure, Romney’s short tenure as Massachusetts governor ended almost six years ago and memories have worn thin. But still: Only Massachusetts one arts leader I contacted — MASS MoCA director Joe Thompson — was willing to talk with me about Romney. Kudos and thanks, Joe.
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