Green Room

America’s Choice: Statism or Capitalism

posted at 9:10 am on August 15, 2012 by

By selecting Paul Ryan as his running mate, Mitt Romney has made this an election about ideas, rather than a referendum on Barack Obama’s presidency. If he had wanted to play it safe – as most thought he would – he’d try to talk as little as possible about the issues and, instead, hammer Obama for his failed policies.

Such a strategy might very well have worked. Opinion poll after opinion polls shows that Obama’s approval rating is too low for him to count on reelection. First-term presidents with an approval rating of less than 50% have historically had a hard time convincing voters they’d perform better when given a second chance.

Romney, then, could have opted to simply focus on Obama’s stimulus package – that did absolutely nothing to actually stimulate the economy – and his ‘ divide and conquer’ strategies.

Instead, the leader of the Republican Party – by selecting Ryan – chose to make this an election about ideas: progressivism vs. conservatism, statism vs. the free market.

For years, Ryan has been one of the foremost, popular and influential fiscal conservative leaders in Congress. He has even written his own budget – a budget that’s as different from Obama’s spending habits as night and day. In it, he wants to cut spending dramatically, cut the size of the federal government, and lower taxes, knowing that – as Reagan put it so wonderfully years ago – the government is the problem.

By writing this plan, Ryan became a darling of the Tea Party, but an archenemy of the Democratic Party. Unlike so many other Republicans, he proved willing to not only talk the fiscal conservative talk, but to walk the fiscal conservative walk. Democrats recognized him for what he was – and is: a politician diametrically opposed to their dreams of creating a European-style welfare state, with the courage to take on unions and other powerful interest groups.

Because Romney has now made Ryan his running mate, he has effectively endorsed the congressman’s budget.

The risks are evident: it is relatively easy for Obama and Biden to portray their Republican opponents as ‘out of touch’ and cold hearted. ‘They want to lower taxes for the rich!’ ‘The end of Medicare as we know it!’ and more such drivel. If they succeed at scaring voters – and they very well could – Romney and Ryan will be destroyed at the polls, as far as that’s possible in this extremely polarized climate that is.

On the other hand, there are also advantages: very serious advantages, even. If they win – and that’s a big if – they will have a mandate to truly reform Washington and Medicare, to make it attractive for businesses to settle in the U.S., and to downsize the federal government, rather than to merely slow down its growth.

As said, that’s a big if, but according to Romney, it’s evidently worth it.

This column first appeared at MT Weekly. Follow me on Twitter.

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The people who dislike Romney are very well versed in the history of the GOP.

They know that there is nothing conservative about Romney. He’s a Big Government, Statist Republican like his father George Romney and Prescott Bush. Were Romney a Conservative, he would have been able to pick a Rob Portman or a McConnell. We know that he was forced to choose Ryan because of his Roadmap for America. Ryan allows him to close the deal with some conservatives because he was trailing Obama in the polls. Because he has no conservative cred had no way to make up that difference.

Romney is a Republican statist financier who wants the levers of Presidential power. That’s all he is. Rank and file conservatives aren’t fooled no matter how much propaganda Rush, Fox News, and right wing blogs try to put out there. These conservatives may decide to hold their nose and vote for more Big Government again when they are totally exhausted from Bush fatigue but to say that Romney is not a Big Government statist and is for capitalism is beyond the pale.

Conservatives have had the scales removed from their eyes this election as to just who really is on their side. There is only one in the media “The Great One” Mark Levin who will admit the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Levin will be sick the day he has to pull the lever for Romney but he would have voted for an orange juice can.

Romney is a Big Bank Wall Street candidate. His kind of people voted for Obama in 2008 because a conservative was on the bottom of the ticket.

When you are about nothing but power you have no core convictions. That’s why we need more conservatives in the House and Senate.

Romney is a progressive. Romney is a Big Government statist. No amount of propaganda remove that stain. It is what it is. Accept it and fight back against the statist ba$tards any way you can.

Jayrae on August 15, 2012 at 11:00 AM

I’m glad Ryan is in the race, and agree that his presence implies a competition between visions this fall. I think Republicans will remain split — not necessarily over the vote, but over what this election, with this candidate (Romney), means.

Some Republicans want to enthusiastically choose Romney as if this were an election from the last 50 years, and he represented a real ideological opposition to “the Democrats.” Such Republicans seem to have the idea that electing Romney will set America on a sustainable course again.

Other Republicans see that with Romney as the candidate, we are at least four and a half years away from truly reforming what’s wrong with us. But the overriding imperative is to get Obama out of office.

Those latter Republicans aren’t going to shut up, nor should they. Romney is not a limited-government conservative. Adding Paul Ryan to the ticket doesn’t make him one. Romney is not the right future for America. He is, however, the promise of a hiatus from Obama-ism.

Campaign-season enthusiasm cannot be allowed to subvert America’s future. The future Romney would give us is not an acceptable or sustainable one. He wouldn’t work to tear us down, as Obama is doing, and it’s worth electing him because of that. But the fact that he gets elected in 2012 will not be a “mandate” for big-government “Rockefeller” Republicanism, an approach that has been entirely discredited by the last 80 years of politics and govenrment.

I have more hopes for Romney in the realm of foreign policy, incidentally. I have issues with his basic posture, but I think he’d be much better than Obama. On domestic policy, we need to elect as conservatve, constitutionalist a Congress as we can to keep Romney in check.

J.E. Dyer on August 15, 2012 at 11:47 AM

If they win – and that’s a big if – they will have a mandate to truly reform Washington and Medicare, to make it attractive for businesses to settle in the U.S., and to downsize the federal government, rather than to merely slow down its growth.

Two corrections. It’s not “a big if”. Romney will win handily. Romney, Ryan and Republicans in congress will NOT “reform” anything. At best, they will make adjustments. The hulking beast that is the federal government will remain intact, and that includes Obamacare.

rickv404 on August 15, 2012 at 3:45 PM

Rick: it may work out that way, but with Democrats especially making this an election about the size of the government (and the evils of the Republican ticket) their mandate will, in effect, be a mandate to downsize the fed gov.

Michael van der Galien on August 15, 2012 at 3:55 PM

Just because they can assume they have a mandate to downsize FedGov, it doesn’t mean they will. The GOP is not a small Gov party and never has been.

There is no serious competition of visions in this election either. We do not have real capitalism in the US, but crony capitalism. There is a very serious need to jail a number of those “capitalists” along with their FedGov enablers, but that isn’t going to happen. Corzine, to take just one example, will never see the inside of the crowbar hotel as an inmate, alas. Mittens will never try to prosecute him either.

The entire system is corrupt.

Quartermaster on August 19, 2012 at 7:46 PM