America’s Choice: Statism or Capitalism
posted at 9:10 am on August 15, 2012 by Michael van der Galien
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.