An Important Election

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.

-- CAV


Gus Van Horn said...

The following is a comment left by Steve D and accdentally deleted from the queue by myself.

The other benefit to this election is that it provides an education on the usefulness and limitations of polling.

Most of the polls seem to suggest that the democrats will seriously outnumber the republicans at the voter booth above anything seen in the past. In the last CNN poll, 11% more likely voters declared themselves democrats overcoming Romney’s advantage with independents.

Based on what happened in 2010 and the early voting tallies that seems difficult for me to believe but that is what the polls say.

The polls are either correct, the pollsters are dishonest or there is some fundamental problem with their methodology, perhaps related to how the samples are obtained.

Or a whole lot of people lie to the pollsters and/or change their minds at the last minute. We’ll see.

Gus Van Horn said...


One theory I've seen is that people who have a life are much more likely to simply hang up/be too busy to answer polls, which would skew their results towards Democrats.

This mirrors a quip that explains the problem with projections based on early polling: "Democrats build up big early leads -- and then the Republicans get off work to vote."


Steve D said...

Ha ha! I hope.

Gus Van Horn said...

Ugh. I wish, I guess.

I had a bad feeling about this one, and watching early results didn't help. At least I didn't waste a night of sleep by staying up to see this non-entity get reelected. (Or is "reelect" too strong a word for something that seemed to happen by default?)

Steve D said...

This is really bad, not because of what it says about Obama but because of what it says about the country. A committed socialist was reelected, this time not mired in shadows but in full daylight. He was without doubt the worst president in history but he was reelected fairly easily (albeit not in a landslide) anyway.

What I worry about mostly in the next four years is the dismemberment of the military and the national debt, both of which could generate a point of no return for the United States. These are the greatest short term dangers to the US and reason why I think Peikoff’s recommendation was correct.

All through October I kept hearing that Obama enthusiasm was down and it occurred to me at the time that a vote cast by an unenthusiastic voter counts the same a vote cast by an enthusiastic voter. So yes, I also had a sort of bad feeling which kind of suppressed.

Obama only needed their votes; not their hearts.

There is less time for us than I thought. I’m not even sure there is a chance anymore but it’s best to go down fighting. What else is there to do?

‘At least I didn't waste a night of sleep by staying up to see this non-entity get reelected.’

Your comment was filed at 3:55 according to the blog? Is that CST?

Gus Van Horn said...


Regarding filing times for my blog and comments, they are aways off by some humber of hours for me: I gave up trying to fix this intractable problem years ago.

Probably, I filed the comment at 4:55 a.m. Since the arrival of my daughter, I have shifted to going to bed 9-10 most nights and rising 3-4. It's the best way to have SOME uninterrupted time to blog. So, last night, I went to bed nine-ish, I think. I woke up just after three. So I got my disappointment over with in one mild jolt.