Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Romney-Ryan Ticket: Plutocrats in Paradise

Has there ever been a Dynamic Duo who will reinforce each other’s group think, and that of their party, more strongly?  Mitt Romney already had a huge problem identifying with the tribulations of ordinary people, yet rather than choose a running mate to help correct that public image, with Paul Ryan he found a like-minded ideologue who will push him to be even more out-of-touch.  These are two Oligarch Ostriches; look for their heads to remain firmly buried in the sand.

(Plus the phrase “Romney-Ryan” just begs for additional alliteration.  Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

Thus Romney's choice of Ryan bodes well for the Democrats. The world remains in economic doldrums and most Americans' purchasing power has constricted since 2008.  Obama’s lead has widened of late as Romney's approval ratings have fallen with his refusal to release his tax returns, making it clear that he believes himself to be subject to "rich people's rules" rather than the ones we mere mortals obey -- an advantage the Democrats have effectively pressed.  Adding Paul Ryan's crazy Ayn Rand libertarianism to the mix does nothing to negate this Romney negative: it will only put Ryan's unrealistic, numbers-free, and Medicare- and Social Security-busting budget plan into the spotlight.  It's hard to imagine a more anti-middle class ticket, and it speaks volumes about the Republican party's tin ear on people's economic difficulties.

The economic numbers have not been in Obama's favor this year, but Romney’s disadvantages as a candidate are currently strengthening his lead.  I'm going to revise my previous assessment that Obama faced an uphill slog and now say it's his race to lose.  But there are several caveats: Obama's advantage is a function of the poor appeal of his opponents, rather than because he and his party are governing well.  Obama still doesn't have a solid majority locked up, whereas a New Deal 2.0 would've made him a shoe-in with huge coattails for his party.  And regretfully, what this means is that the Beltway insider centrists will learn all the wrong lessons: they will look at an Obama re-election as confirmation of their center-right economic strategy and continue to dismiss "irresponsible populism." Meanwhile the country's  momentum towards greater inequality will continue unabated, along with all the attendant social ills.  One silver lining: perhaps the hitching of Ryan's Objectivist wagon to Romney's Rolls Royce campaign will help discredit libertarianism, if the Romney-Ryan ticket does in fact lose in November.

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