With the selection of Paul Ryan (an Ayn Rand aficionado? seriously?) as his running mate Mitt Romney has certainly thrown down the gauntlet vis-a-vis Obama-Biden, making the contrast pretty stark: Obama-Biden for bigger and more active government; Romney-Ryan for “austerity”.
The “electorate”, which is an increasingly specialized slice of the general population – which is to say, those that have a personal stake in who is running the government because they work for it or otherwise benefit from it – is exceedingly unlikely to slit its own throat and opt for austerity.
So what is being orchestrated, at this point, is an historic landslide for President Obama. And that’s important for the Washington-Wall Street axis, which has been experiencing a “legitimacy” crisis for some time.
From the ever dependable Washington Post: first, we should welcome the Ryan selection because we will now have a “meaningful debate” on the “role of government”. It irks the folks at the Washington Post that taxes consume little more of the GDP today than they did fifty years ago.
But it’s not just the numbers that rankle; it’s people’s faith, their unreasoning belief in their inside-the-beltway rulers:
“America’s presidential campaign process works,” argues Troy, the historian. “It sifts through candidates, facilitates a continent-wide conversation and, most important, bestows legitimacy on the winner.”
Since Reagan was president there has been no legitimacy for the government loving crowd. Though he accomplished little or nothing in the way of changing the reality of our relationship to our government, Reagan was quite successful rhetorically. The people who want government to be bigger and more active have had to hold their tongues ever since.
These same people are, therefore, quite happy with the current presidential race: not only is the Romney-Ryan ticket utterly lacking in personality appeal; their “vision” of government is inherently unpopular with the “electorate” for simple reasons of self-interest. And the timing is exquisite: they will be trying to sell austerity when 40 million + are on food stamps and millions of others live with homelessness tugging at their elbows.
Put another way, this presidential election is the best chance since 1980 to reverse the rhetorical accomplishment of the Reagan presidency, to restore the legitimacy of the advocates of big government.
And legitimacy is the “most important thing”, isn’t it?