Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ryan/Romney - Obama/Biden - Two Clear Choices Now

I like the team of Romney/Ryan because it clarifies this campaign. Oh, not completely. There will still be lots of fudging and smudging and explaining and complaining that candidates are being taken out of context and oh, no, Paul Ryan had no intention of actually ending Medicare as we know it and anyway, if you're over 55, everything will stay exactly the same. As if, as parents and grandparents, we aren't concerned about what will happen to the next generations as long as we get ours. And, of course, when Paul Ryan pushed for a Personhood Amendment, but he didn't seriously mean to outlaw the pill and in vitro fertilization and banning every abortion even in cases of rape and incest and the health of the mother. Except, he did.

No the choices in November couldn't be starker and they are highlighted now for all to see. For those of us who want to see......and not all of us do. We prefer to maintain our biased ignorance and fortunately, we each have our very own media who will give us only what we want. If we pick and choose the right t.v. stations, newspapers, radio hosts, Facebook friends and blogs we could go forever without ever hearing a dissenting point of view.

But, in spite of all that, I think the two philosophies of the two presidential tickets will seep through at least enough so that most voters will know who and what they are voting for.

With Obama/Biden, you will get activist government, what the right characterizes as "socialism". It is government that sees its duty as stepping in to help the most vulnerable of us by means of food stamps and healthcare and subsidized housing. Government that needs to play an important role in down times by providing jobs via infrastructure projects. Government whose duty it is to try to help develop technology to protect the environment. This is a government that believes in being the mediator between labor and management (tilting, a little toward the employee' side because of the power inequities).

With Obama/Biden you may get a defense department that picks and chooses groups to assist with weapons and intelligence but mostly likely you won't get another "boots on the ground" war and the one we're still fighting will be ended (although not soon enough to suit some of Obama's supporters). They are, however, capable of making the occasional bold foreign policy move, such as they did in sending the SEALs after bin Laden, despite the risk of pissing Pakistan off.

The O./B. ticket will move cautiously forward on gay rights. It will move cautiously forward on immigration. It will move slightly less cautiously forward on women's rights and minority rights (such as including free contraception in the ACA).

This is an administration characterized by caution. Sometimes that's a good thing. The Affordable Care Act would have fallen by the wayside as all previous healthcare plans have had not Obama been willing to compromise with the Republicans on an individual mandate, as much as his own gung-ho crowd wanted single payer - Medicare for Everyone.

Over all, Obama will satisfy most of his base, even if, in their hearts, they wish he was more of a warrior. The Hillary true believers, such as myself, see him as a high-quality cubic zirconia, if not quite a diamond.

Romney's base probably wishes he was more of a warrior too. He's williwawed around on almost every issue. He was for healthcare before he was against it. He was for Planned Parenthood before he was against it. He was for gay rights before he was against them. The Tea Party set wanted Newt or Rick or Michelle or, well, almost anyone but Mitt. But they'll make the best of it. And perhaps, with Paul Ryan, they'll have someone who pushes Mitt more forcefully in their direction. Or maybe, Mitt will tamp down Ryan's rebel tendencies. He is at the top of the ticket, after all. But all you can know about this pair is their own statement about being for limited government (or what those on the left call "every man for himself").

Many of us on the other side believe in our hearts that Mitt is naturally every bit as cautious, left to his own devices, as Obama. (We wouldn't panic about a Romney presidency if we thought it was the same Romney who was governor of Massachusetts). Without all those Bush foreign policy advisers pushing him, we think he probably wouldn't be as hawkish and blustery about Iran and Israel as he has been. We think, without the Tea Party demanding it, he wouldn't be as militant about abortion and gay marriage as he has been. We think that inwardly he really does believe in healthcare for everyone via the individual mandate.

Maybe some on their side believe that too and, if so, Paul Ryan will give them more confidence in Mitt Romney's conservative bona fides.

The only issue Mitt really seems to be passionate about is business and passing legislation that favors business, especially big business and the big money men, like himself, who most benefit from big business. The rest all seems to be window-dressing. "Oh, yeah, I'll sign a Personhood Amendment if that's what you want." And, "Oh, yeah, I'll promise to be in lock-step with Bibi Netanyahu if that's what you prefer." And "oh, yeah, an anti-gay marriage bill, that's fine with me if you insist."

"You can have all that stuff, just let me at the tax code!"

He probably really believes that what's good for the wealthy, is ultimately good for America. (I'll give him credit for good intentions even though the Republicans won't give my president the same credit). He probably really believes that he and his group know what's best for all of us. After all, they've been fabulously successful making money, so why shouldn't they be equally successful at whipping the country into shape? We're just another corporation that needs our unproductive assets sold, our dead wood employees fired, our loser divisions spun off, our finances subject to some creative accounting and if bankruptcy is in the cards, oh, well.....so long as we get out with our monster commissions intact.

Mitt Romney doesn't have a glimmer of what it is like to worry about having enough food in the house to feed his family. Ann Romney doesn't have a clue about what it is like to face a serious illness without access to the world's finest healthcare. The Romney boys don't have a hint of what it is like to have to work for a living....maybe in a mine or on a fishing boat or operating a punch press....day in and day out for 30 or 40 years....until hopefully you can retire with your health intact on social security and medicare and whatever pension or IRA you may have. The Romney daughters-in-law will never be poor single moms and their kids will never wonder how they are going to college.

The Romneys are probably kind people. I expect they are, but there is no way they can relate to the poor and middle class. Judging by his own rigid and radical fiscal stances, I don't see Paul Ryan helping much with that.