Lest anyone think from my essays yesterday that I didn’t vote, or that I don’t think it’s important to vote for Obama, a quick note.
1) I can’t think of anything that Romney would likely improve, even in areas where I think very little can change, or where I think the changes are largely beyond the power of national leaders to easily affect. (For example, I think there’s some fundamental changes in the global political economy happening now that can’t really be countermanded by any national leadership.) One of the oddities of Romney’s campaign that neither Obama or many of his supporters ever really called attention to is that Romney’s campaign ads repeatedly talked about Obama’s promises of “hope” and “change” and how neither were achieved. This clearly implies that Romney believes in making good on both–but in none of his (many, shifting and contradictory) policy commitments or his rhetoric does he remotely seem to endorse the soaring aspirations that vaulted Obama into office. Obama promised a post-partisan politics full of meaning, promised to overcome culture wars, promised to make headway in making government policies that meaningfully tackled and resolved issues of enormous importance to the future of the United States and the world. Romney has no interest in any of those objectives, which is what “hope” and “change” stood for. It’s very strange to complain that your rival failed to live up to promises when you expressly reject what he promised. When I have to choose between someone who might make some things better and someone who is guaranteed to make them worse, my choice is simple.
2) I have no idea who I’m voting for with Romney, really. With Bush the Lesser, you knew in a way that you were voting for the strongmen that he surrounded himself with–if you could have voted for Louis XIII, you would have understood you were voting for Richelieu. With Romney, who knows: he is whatever works the system of the moment. Arch-conservative in Iowa, moderate at the first debate, America-firster when speaking in Ohio, remorseless outsourcer when heading Bain. Obama is a known quantity, and pretty much what I expected him to be ideologically (a pragmatist and moderate) if not what I hoped for in his political skills and ability to achieve his objectives. People who can be whatever they have to be for their own political gain are scary people.
3) Supreme Court. Just saying.
4) Most importantly, on a massive slew of culture-war issues, I believe the choice is unmistakeably clear, potent and vitally important. Things will get much worse for people I care about–and for myself–in a Romney Administration. They have considerable potential to get better in an Obama Administration. While we’ll be living for some time, perhaps all our lives, with the unresolvable nature of these struggles in the best-case scenario, the worst case is bad indeed.
5) While the inaction of Obama and his chief advisors on the oversight of financial capitalism drives me nuts, I think he’s far more likely to make some progress towards economic justice and reform in other areas of policy. Who knows, maybe he’ll finally stop letting the foxes guard the henhouse as well. Romney, on the other hand, would just dispense with the fiction that the foxes are on guard and just go ahead and slaughter up the remaining poultry for a vulpine orgy.