Tuesday, November 06, 2012
Johnathan Cohn agrees with Harry Binswanger that tonight's election is very important --
but the similarity ends there. Cohn fears that this election could be the death
knell for the welfare state. I think, and am inclined to believe that
Binswanger would agree with me, that that is not the case. A Romney victory
would, at best, be a buying of time for pro-capitalists and a signal that many Americans reject the
premises behind the welfare state when they are presented openly and their implications are more fully fleshed out than usual, as in, "You didn't build that."
I'll spare you Cohn's hysertia and scare tactics. For one thing, he forgets that, "What the government giveth, the government hath taken away," if he ever knew it. (The alternative is that he doesn't care.) That fact, by the way, has deadly implications for poor and prosperous alike. Instead, I'll cut straight to what is essentially correct about Cohn's fears regarding a Romney presidency.
But the simplest explanation for Romney's behavior, the only one fully consistent with his persona as governor of Massachusetts and his persona(s) as candidate for the presidency, is that he will respond to the political pressure around him. And for the next four years, it's safe to assume, the pressure around him would come more from the right than the left. House Republicans have already voted for the Ryan budget. They have no incentive not to do so again. The Senate might resist, particularly if Democrats maintain control, but, at best, they'd succeed in moderating the conservative agenda. And an agenda only half as bold as the one I described above would still have dramatic effects. It would still be, to use Romney's own term, "severely conservative."That summarizes the extent of Romney's usefulness beyond not being Barack Obama -- and of his limitations. Nevertheless, a Romney victory represents a far more favorable outcome than a second Obama term.
In either case, the fight for freedom will go on. By tomorrow morning, we should have a rough idea of what level of difficulty we can expect.
Romney has a chance to win, and I wish him and my country well.