Thursday, December 1, 2011

Republican presidency? Can't be worse

It's looking increasingly like the Republican nominee for President will be either Mr Romney or, slightly less likely, Mr Gingrich. Romney has been the front runner for most of the campaign (and when not, the man to beat.) Gingrich follows a trail of beaten down nominees of the moment - Bachmann, Perry, and Herman Munster, who have had a few moments in the Sun before it become obvious they were unelectable lunatics.

From the point of view of this liberal, I'm down with either. I wouldn't vote for either, don't get me wrong, but Obama needs to be thrown out at this election, and pretty much the only reason not to vote him out is if the Republicans nominate someone much worse. Given that, I can safely cast a vote for a liberal third party candidate at this election knowing I will not be throwing the country to the wolves by not voting for a lesser-of-two-evils candidate.

Why Gingrich and Romney? Well, I'm sure the former is going to be more controversial, but actually I'd like either to win because I don't believe, at heart, either's evil, and Romney has the added benefit there's a 10% chance or so that he'll completely divide conservatives when he becomes President.

While the knocked down candidates may have been loonies, neither Gingrich nor Romney are. Both are to some degree technocrats, they may rant and rave in public and occasionally say some very extreme things, but in power they try to find academically smart solutions, according to their respective ideologies, to real problems.

Is there any evidence Romney would be worse than Obama on the issues that matter most to me? I don't see any. Obama's far right views on the surveillance state, on torturing whistleblowers, on extra-judicial executions, do not seem to me to be bettered by anything either has said. Indeed, it seems probable that those views both has put in public that appear to show fear of terrorism are as much to do with appealing to the Republican base as anything else. There is a strong chance that Romney would actually be more liberal than Obama, and a slight chance that Gingrich would be too.

Romney would be an interesting President because he's a city man in a party normally associated with country politics. That means he takes some interesting positions not normally widely associated with Republicanism such as gun control. If Romney can engineer a Republican dominated Congress, that could be his - and the Republican's - undoing. Conventional wisdom is that Republicans would never vote for a gun control bill. But the reality is that dominating congress can only be done by taking seats from Democrats, and in general the pro- and anti- gun-control lines are drawn not by ideology but by location and demographics. This is why someone like Guiliani, considered far-right by most liberals, takes the pro-gun control line. And while Democrats are scared to go there, Republicans have no reason to be. A Republican party dominated and controlled by City-Republicans may well pass some laws that undermine key planks of its support for decades to come.

Gingrich's major problem is that he's also somewhat on the slimy side when it comes to politics, he wants power (which is why he keeps running for President despite - this time excepting - always being knocked out at an early stage.) He was extremely successful with the framing exercises of the early nineties and practically made "Liberal" a bad word. He went after Clinton for consensual sexual transgressions and almost brought the country to its knees in doing so despite his own, somewhat worse, private life.

But Gingrich is, at heart, a technocrat. He tries to find free market solutions to real problems rather than pretending the problems do not exist. While Romney's healthcare reforms may have formed the roots of Obamacare, the reality is that they first cropped up during Gingrich's leadership of the opposition at the time of Clinton's health care proposals. The healthcare proposal, which included an individual mandate, never went anywhere, but it was typical of Gingrich's approach, an attempt to craft a system that would leave the majority of the health system in the free market, while creating an infrastructure to ensure it was available to everyone, the goal of any real healthcare reform.

Gingrich is also notable as being one of the early supporters of the Internet, at a time when it was barely heard of outside of nerd circles.

The bottom line is that I don't think either candidate will cause the collapse of America, or if they do, Obama would do it sooner. As such, given a vote for Obama is a support for torture, executive ignorance of the rule of law, unnecessary and blatantly illegal wars, compromises that are worse than doing nothing, and not giving a rat's behind about the unemployed, victims of corporate malfeasance, and general cronyism, I believe that it would be better to vote for a liberal third party thereby allowing either candidate to win, than to vote for Obama.

1 comment:

  1. I really doubt that a man with two affairs & divorces under his belt can pull enough of the morality crowd to the voting booth.

    I agree that Romney would be a lesser evil.


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