Saturday, November 03, 2012

Don't vote for Romney

Well, in seventy-two hours we'll all know who the next president will be...(or maybe not). In these last few moments of pre-elective uncertainty, I thought I'd review the reasons why you'd have to be stupid, misinformed, or cynical to the point of misanthropy to vote for Willard Mitt Romney. To Mitt!:

1) Mitt Romney has all the consistency and spine of an oyster. His flip-flopping is the stuff of legend: from the centrist governor of Massachusetts, to the far-right social conservative of the 2012 Republican primaries, to the once-again-centrist of the recent presidential debates, Romney's positions have been all over the map. What does does that lead us to expect from him as president? Expediency and nothing but: as a leader, Romney appears to have few scruples besides his own success. Whether you support Obama's particular policy choices or not, you have to admit that he's principled--or at least, that his strategy is for the long-term. (Obamacare was, and is, anything but playing-it-safe for this administration.)

Of course, the silver-lining of Romney's insipid flimsiness is the fact that he's not an idealogue. A Romney presidency would not wage war on e.g. women's autonomy in the way that a, say, Santorum presidency would. Romney, like a Dole or a Bush, can be dealt with by liberals, even as we hold our noses to do so. So will a Romney win suck? Definitely. Would it signal the end days? Not so much: he's an operator, not a believer. And despite their differences, Romney and Obama are both basically beholden to the same interests: Big Capital, popular support/acceptance, the logic of pseudo-imperial governance, etc. The president is powerful, but he's powerful within limits dictated by his environment: less of a demigod, more of a champion plate-spinner.

2) That being said, there are substantial differences between the Prez and the Gov. Perhaps the biggest is Obama's relatively sane approach to modern governance, which allows for safety nets (like welfare and health insurance) and safety regulations on everything from heavy machinery to financial markets. Don't get me wrong: I'm sure that Romney, as a closet-pragmatist, also supports non-insane government interventions. The difference is, Romney answers to a party which systematically opposes government involvement in pretty much anything other than military, prisons, and women's health. The contemporary Republican Party, caught between ideologue libertarians and cynical big business, wants to have it both ways: wild-west economics coupled with repressive social policy.

So on character, and on the issues, vote for Obama--or, if you prefer, a third-party candidate. But don't waste your vote on the insipid puppet of the Party of "No". If you're going to vote for Romney, then really: what's the point?

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