Seamanship Quotation

“In political activity, then, men sail a boundless and bottomless sea; there is neither harbour for shelter nor floor for anchorage, neither starting-place nor appointed destination.”
— from Michael Oakeshott's
Political Education” (1951)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Making a dangerous US election: One crazy side is enough

The foulest complaint of the week is: What a boring election; nobody is saying anything interesting. Sullen columns by David Brooks and condescending editorials in The Economist tell Americans they aren’t being offered a significant choice. This is dangerous and untrue.

Telling voters that it’s a dull election is as good as telling them not to bother to vote. And not voting in this election would be an outrage.

At the heart of the election’s image problem is the media’s distorted shorthand: both sides exaggerate, answer to millions, represent elites, and carry ideological baggage; so, covering the election is mostly about conflicting sound bites and the competence of two professional campaign teams—just two gray calculators, so relax.

In fact, Obama is graying and possibly is the most calculating president since Lincoln. A conservative, if you will. Romney, however, is not.

The Economist understates their differences by putting both equally off center:

“But the Republicans’ main problem is taxes. Successful deficit-reduction plans require at least some of the gap—perhaps around a quarter—to be closed by new revenue. If the Republicans got rid of loopholes, they could cut all the main tax rates and still raise more money.

“The Democrats’ challenge is more on the spending side. Productivity has been flat in the public sector at a time when it has doubled in the private sector. Mr Obama needs to decide whether he is on the side of taxpayers or public-sector workers (who, if they work for the federal government, earn more than their private-sector equivalents do in wages and benefits). He needs to get serious about cutting back regulation, rather than increasing it; and he needs to spend more time listening to successful business leaders rather than telling them all is fine.”

Obama’s spending challenge is America’s challenge—it’s embedded in the country—and is acknowledged by the president and most of his party. Indeed, his spending performance during his first three years is actually better than that of his Republican predecessor.

Romney’s tax problem is entirely self-inflicted and threatens America’s financial and social order. It is the child of a novice fanaticism; it excuses paranoia; it has made compromise impossible; and it tells Americans to give up on their own creation—government for the people.

Government isn’t your servant, stern young Republicans insist. If you want one of those, ask your daddy for one of his.

Obama offers more incremental management, a slow, united recovery. Whether sincere or utterly without conviction, Romney would lead a radical, coordinated Republican effort to transform Washington along the lines of a sugary illusion about daddy’s 1950’s America.

The Economist well represents the assumption that Romney is simply an expedient liar. That in office, he and Republican intellectuals would bend to the data that they’ve ignored for years and find a way to do “something sensible” on taxes, loopholes, and spending that would allow the budget to balance later in the decade—and all this while providing for a strong defense and presenting levels of support to an aging society.

Rational conservative voices like The Economist and David Brooks seem to believe that while Romney’s Republican platform is incredible, it’s reasonable to trust that he has a sensible plan of his own.

The idea that Romney has a hidden agenda to be a moderate president deserves no more respect than the fear that Obama, locked away in his hope chest, has a blueprint to turn America into a European socialist state.

No comments:

Post a Comment