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Paul Ryan = Sarah Palin?

There aren’t a whole lot of similarities between Paul Ryan and Sarah Palin. Unlike Palin, Ryan is bright and is considered a policy wonk. But there’s one clear similarity between the two: Both were picked to be on the ticket out of desperation.

Nate Silver had it exactly right when he Tweeted:

I think Ryan pick (if rumors true) indicates bearish view from Romney campaign. Not a pick you make if you think you’re ahead.

Ben Smith of Politico likewise tweeted that this pick was “the first real surprise move in Romney’s political career.” And David Frum said that with this pick Romney had “converted what ought to be an easy win for the out party into the biggest gamble since 1964.” Why? Social Security and Medicare. Romney has played it coy on whether he supports the Ryan plan to privatize those programs, trying to prevent that plan from being hung around his neck, but he has now hung that albatross on himself. The Ryan plan is now his plan and it is wildly unpopular with middle class and older voters, both usually firm members of the Republican coalition.

This is a hail mary pass, made as the campaign has begun to clearly turn in Obama’s favor in the swing state polls. Will it work better than McCain’s desperation move of picking Palin in 2008? It won’t be that disastrous. Ryan will not look unpresidential and will not scare people at the thought of him having to take over for Romney for some reason; no sane person could see Palin try to answer simple questions and have confidence that she could run the country. But the Obama campaign is already cuing up their ads on the Ryan plan and those ads are likely to be very effective. David Frum knows exactly what those ads will look like:

A woman’s voice over. “You’ve worked hard all your life. You’ve paid Medicare taxes for almost 30 years. But under the Republican plan, Medicare won’t be there for you. Instead of Medicare as it exists now, under the Republican plan you’ll get a voucher that will pay as little as half your Medicare costs when you turn 65—and as little as a quarter in your 80s. And all so that millionaires and billionaires can have a huge tax cut.”

That ad will draw blood and will—as Henry Kissinger used to say—have the additional merit of being true.

Conservative bloggers and pundits will love it; independent voters and the elderly, who vote in high numbers, will not.

Comments

  1. Larry says

    Cue the GOP whining in 3.. 2.. 1..

    “Mama, make the scary black man stop throwing our own words and policies back into our faces!”

  2. slc1 says

    Another issue with Ryan is his lifelong infatuation with the philosophy of Ayn Rand, who he has been a devotee of since he was a teenager. Interestingly enough, he is now trying to distance himself from her because of her atheism. It will be interesting to hear his explanation as to why that never bothered him until he was chosen as Romney’s running mate.

  3. slc1 says

    It might also convince a number of liberals who, because of disillusionment with Obama, were planning on staying home that Romney really is scary. If putting an Ayn Rand devotee on the ticket doesn’t motivate those folks, nothing will.

  4. Michael Heath says

    The most critical comparison Paul Ryan and Sarah Palin share is that both rely on policy proposals which are derived from conservative political ideology premised on popular conservative talking points. That’s opposed to policy proposals premised on what lessons history teaches us and what experts prescribe. Mr. Ryan may be considered a policy wonk, but his output is analogous to how Bill Dembski and Michael Behe promote quasi-scientific ideas.

    While I’m a strong advocate of recruiting more business leaders to public service; one way business leaders have caused the country to suffer is the following. Many business leaders, especially those who enter the public square, suffer from the Dunning-Krueger effect by falsely conflating the principles they used to succeed in business as applicable to fiscal and monetary policy administrated by governments. That’s hurt us because they are assumed by the public, even non-conservatives, as economic experts when nothing could be further from the truth. That’s turned conservative talking points which are largely contractionary to falsely be considered valid expansionary policy measures. Their arguments from authority are unwarranted yet accepted even by many Democrats as true.

    So from this perspective, Paul Ryan is a very dangerous man if the Democrats are unable to effectively reveal how his prescriptions are fallacious. They might not need to given how his policies also purposefully harm future retirees and everyone who isn’t a top income earner.

    I used to argue conservative policies which are effectively contractionary, like the Bush tax cuts, also hurt the top income brackets given they needed U.S. economic growth as much as the middle class did. So paying a top marginal rate of 39% rather than 35% led to greater discretionary income and greater wealth for them as well. However that correlation is now quickly dying given top earners are able to leverage global economic growth with decreasing reliance on U.S. economic growth which determines their taxable income base. So now they have an increasing motivation to keep growth stagnant in the U.S. to keep their effective tax liability low, while enjoying the benefits of a growing global economy.

  5. jakc says

    This is what passes for serious among Republicans? An unworkable plan that isn’t going to become law, and frankly, shouldn’t become law? I haven’t seen anything to suggest that Paul Ryan is brighter or more capable than Palin. It’s just a different schtick.

  6. cottonnero says

    In some ways, they’re quite similar: Presidential candidate with poor conservative credentials picks someone with a small territory (Ryan’s Wisconsin 1st has about 670,000 people, only slightly less than the state of Alaska), in order to fire up the base that he has a hard time reaching. However, the crossover appeal to moderates and liberals is minimal at best.

  7. Michael Heath says

    slc1 writes:

    It might also convince a number of liberals who, because of disillusionment with Obama, were planning on staying home that Romney really is scary. If putting an Ayn Rand devotee on the ticket doesn’t motivate those folks, nothing will.

    I’m fairly confident most voters still won’t know who Ayn Rand is or what she represents by the end of this election season.

  8. dingojack says

    Intrade today
    Winner of the 2012 Presidential Election

    By party:
    Deocratic: 57.827% (up by 1.1832% since 14 Aug) [Lead by 15.952]
    Republicans: 41.874% (down by 1.1826% ” ” “)
    other: 0.299% (down by 0.0006% ” ” “)

    Head to Head match-ups:
    Obama: 58.426% (down by 0.121% since 14 Aug) [lead by 16.852]
    Romney: 41.547% (up ” ” ” ” “)

    Dingo

  9. raven says

    Ryan was also chosen because he is almost the right type of xian.

    Romney isn’t a xian according to 3/4 of all xian clergy and half the lay xians.

    Ryan is a Catholic, but he is a fundie Catholic. Despite the xians claims to eternal truths, their cults evolve and quite rapidly. Fundie Catholics look a whole lot like fundie Protestants, a classic example of convergent evolution with some horizontal meme transfer thrown in. I’M sure Ryan hates all the right groups and that is very important to the Haters for jesus.

    It’s telling that despite owning the Tea Party/GOP, the fundie death cult xians couldn’t nominate a candidate of their own. Bachmann, Perry, and Palin among others were simply too oogedy boogedy extreme and just plain dumb.

    The evidence that fundie xianity is toxic and can cause cognitive impairment is getting to be overwhelming. Michele Bachmann went to law school and passed the bar. These days, she shouldn’t attempt to cross a street without her minder.

  10. vmanis1 says

    I used to say that wonking is OK so long as one washes one’s hands afterwards. Paul Ryan is a cautionary tale about the dangers of excessive wonking.

  11. slc1 says

    Re Michael Heath @ #10

    I was referring to those liberals, some of whom comment on this blog, who know very well who Ayn Rand was and heretofore were shouting from the rooftops that they were sitting this election out.

    If I were one of the questioners on the VP debate, the first question I would ask Ryan is how, having read everything Rand ever wrote and further recommending that his congressional aides do likewise, could he possibly be unaware that she was an atheist until he was chosen as Romney’s running mate.

    We already know that Ryan rejects climate change and further, accuses the scientists who have shown it to be a valid science of being part of a conspiracy to overthrow capitalism. In this regard, he has also taken big bucks for his Congressional campaigns from the Koch brothers, for whom he is nothing but a shill.

  12. imrryr says

    Newt Gingrich’s head today
    Winner of the 2012 Presidential Election

    By party:
    Deocratic: 0.000%
    Republicans: 0.000%
    Other: 100.000%

    Head to Head match-ups:
    Obama: 0.000%
    Romney: 0.000%
    Gingrich (in grass-roots write-in campaign, completely independent of Newt himself): 100.000%

    Likelihood that, immediately after the election, Newt Gingrich is proclaimed king of America and most smartest man in the universe ever by unanimous consent of the governed: 100,000,000%

  13. John Hinkle says

    Ryan has at least two – in my mind weak – things going for him. He created the Ryan budget at a time when other republicans were merely obstructionists with no proposals of their own. At least he gets kudos for giving the impression he’s a doer. (His budget still stinks, but that’s not my main point).

    The other thing is he’s Catholic. That’s not the greatest news for evangies/fundies, but it’s probably better than Mormonism. Or is it? Is the anti-Christ better or worse than a cult?

  14. Michael Heath says

    jakc writes:

    I haven’t seen anything to suggest that Paul Ryan is brighter or more capable than Palin. It’s just a different schtick.

    I think there’s an enormous difference in capabilities between Ms. Palin and Mr. Ryan. That doesn’t mean from a normative perspective he would implement good policy, he wouldn’t. However the man is far more intelligent and mature than Ms. Palin. In some ways this makes him more dangerous because it increases the odds of his gaining national power someday. So while a Palin presidency would undoubtedly lead to far worse consequences, a Ryan presidency is far more likely. Though less dangerous when you consider the fact Mr. Ryan’s distinguishing policy prescriptions which are abhorrent have little chance of ever passing Congress while Ms. Palin would muck up everything single thing she touched.

  15. says

    Paul Ryan could conceivably explain Rand’s reliance on Social Security and his religious views, but I doubt he could explain his votes in favor of the bank and auto bailouts while attempting to cast himself as a deficit hawk and a Randist.

  16. raven says

    WELS.net:

    IV. Therefore on the basis of a renewed study of the pertinent Scriptures we reaffirm the statement of the Lutheran Confessions,

    that “the Pope is the very Antichrist” (cf. Section II),

    especially since he anathematizes the doctrine of the justification by faith alone and sets himself up as the infallible head of the Church.

    Some Protestant churches still officially have a doctrine that the Pope is the antichrist*.

    The statement above is off the Wisconsin Lutherans website, Michele Bachmann’s church.

    The Lutherans are big on this. 450 years ago they fought a bloody war with the Catholics in which tens of millions were killed. 4 1/2 centuries isn’t enough time for old animosities to die I guess. A lot of xians are still mad at the Jews for killing jesus and it has been 2 millennia.

    *Which sort of makes it hard for Obama to be the antichrist, along with the Episcopalians and Methodists (Pat Robertson). I guess the antichrist is good at time sharing.

  17. says

    I agree that Paul Ryan was selected as Romney’s running mate for almost exactly the same reason that Sarah Palin was chosen to run with McCain. It’s a desperate Hail-Mary attempt to shake up a losing campaign and maybe — just maybe — turn it into a winner. The most obvious difference is to Ryan’s advantage: He can parse a sentence while Palin is lost the moment she tries to say anything that isn’t a vapid platitude or talking point (and she doesn’t always success then, either). Ryan has a veneer of thoughtfulness and can camouflage his ridiculous budget proposals with a veil of wonkery. The numbers, however, always expose him for what he is: an exponent of class warfare on behalf of the moneyed interests.

  18. slc1 says

    Re Michael Heath @ #21

    Given Ryan’s embrace of Ayn Rand’s philosophy, at least until last week, one would, at the least, have to question his critical thinking ability.

  19. Dennis N says

    However the man is far more intelligent and mature than Ms. Palin.

    He seems functionally intelligent enough to survive interviews, but I have routinely seen him act immature for a national politician with national recognition. He frequently whines like a child when disagreed with, case in point when Pres. Obama publicly attacked his terrible plan, he quite literally whined sulked like a petulant toddler.

  20. KG says

    So while a Palin presidency would undoubtedly lead to far worse consequences, a Ryan presidency is far more likely. – Michael Heath

    Romney’s slip of the tongue in introducing him as the “next President” could turn out to be accidentally prescient: if Obama wins (as seems likely), but Ryan avoids making a fool of himself in the campaign, he’d be well placed to become the Republican nominee in 2016. There’s a nasty thought.

  21. says

    slc1 “Given Ryan’s embrace of Ayn Rand’s philosophy, at least until last week, one would, at the least, have to question his critical thinking ability.”
    *Pbbt!*
    A bitter white woman? It’s not like she was a scary black padre.

  22. Abby Normal says

    I was referring to those liberals, some of whom comment on this blog, who know very well who Ayn Rand was and heretofore were shouting from the rooftops that they were sitting this election out.

    That’s me. And yes, I still won’t vote for Obama while he continues to enable torture and even order the assassination of American citizens. That Romney and Ryan are also incredibly bad doesn’t change a thing. I cannot in good conscience give support to anyone running in this election. In fact just changed my registration to Unaffiliated on Saturday. When all the players are this evil and corrupt the only reasonable and moral move I can see is to get out of the game.

  23. Michael Heath says

    slc1 writes:

    Given Ryan’s embrace of Ayn Rand’s philosophy, at least until last week, one would, at the least, have to question his critical thinking ability.

    Actually Rep. Ryan started to walk-back his fealty to Randism several months ago.

    I perceive excellent critical thinking skills on Ryan’s part, at least in terms of raw capability while compartmentalizing in order to avoid using those skills in policy areas where he’s personally succeeded. Instead I think he’s emotionally immature on one key aspect. That being the ability to distinguish one’s success from the quality of one’s position. He’s been well-rewarded promoting libertarian economic policies while simultaneously also favoring non-Libertarian policies a small subset of the very rich promote – namely those in the fossil fuel industry like the Koch Brothers. That doesn’t make him right, it does make him a useful knight for the Romneys and Kochs.

    Rep. Ryan’s quick and successful ascent has encouraged him to not dig and learn economics and optimal policy measures, in fact he’s been rewarded by the GOP and its monied interests for avoiding such study while acting as if has boned-up. This has me questioning his motivation – personal ambition?, and his maturity – defectively conflating his success with being correct. However I think if Rep. Ryan was operating in a different context, one which demanded a politician promote optimal policies to succeed, Mr. Ryan would deservedly be a formidable player; precisely because he’s a smart guy, personally appealing, with emotional intelligence in other areas, and with capable critical thinking skills.

  24. Reginald Selkirk says

    All matters of substance aside, I don’t like the way Paul Ryan looks. He looks to me like a smug lying weasel, a grown up Eddie Haskell.

  25. slc1 says

    Re Abby Normal @ #29

    So Mr. Normal proposes to cut off his nose to spite his face. Of course, if Mr. Normal lives in a heavily red or a heavily blue state, that’s a perfectly valid position. If he lives in a purple state like Florida, Ohio or Virginia, it’s the height of irresponsibility.

  26. Dennis N says

    When all the players are this evil and corrupt the only reasonable and moral move I can see is to get out of the game.

    I respect your decision to not vote, but the only way to “get out of the game” is to leave the country, or really, the planet. The United States affects every inch of the Earth; this is a game you can’t leave until you die.

  27. Trebuchet says

    Some Protestant churches still officially have a doctrine that the Pope is the antichrist.

    The LDS church, on the other hand, considers the RC church to be the “Whore of Babylon.”

  28. The Lorax says

    Would have been brilliant if he picked John Kerry as his running mate. Imagine how many different answers you’d get to the same question! It would be like a political RAINBOW!

  29. D. C. Sessions says

    It won’t be that disastrous.

    Maybe not for the Presidential race. Down-ballot? There was a lot of liquor poured in Congressional campaign offices this weekend: the Democrats were celebrating, the Republicans trying to drown their despair.

  30. tomh says

    From a GOP point of view, I think it was a smart pick. The so-called undecideds, or independents – the squishy middle, as it were – are too few to matter this time around. The path to victory for Romney is to get every vote from his base to the polls, combined with suppressing every possible Dem vote in a few key swing states. Ryan will help with the first part and he can count on state legislatures to take care of the second. Whether it will work or not, who knows, but that seems like his chosen path and his best shot at winning.

  31. slc1 says

    Re Michael Heath @ #30

    Actually Rep. Ryan started to walk-back his fealty to Randism several months ago.

    His walking back is based on her being an atheist. Apparently, her atheism only started to bother him when the media started talking about him as a possible Romney running mate.

  32. Abby Normal says

    Slc1 @33

    If he lives in a purple state like Florida, Ohio or Virginia, it’s the height of irresponsibility.

    Do I understand correctly, no matter how evil the candidates are it is irresponsible to not vote for one if you’re in a swing state? Hypothetically, if Hitler and Stalin were running (and otherwise alive/eligible) do you think the responsible thing to do is throw in your support for one of them or oppose them both?

    Out of curiosity, if you stand by your assertion which one would you vote for?

    Dennis N # 34,
    You’re assuming the Democrat vs. Republican is the only game in town. I haven’t given up on trying to improve things. I’m just rejecting that false dichotomy of choosing the lesser evil.

  33. Daniel Kolle says

    I am not sure Paul Ryan was Romney’s best choice for veep. Sure, Ryan will excite the conservative base, but they were going to tepidly vote for Romney anyway, as the thought of a second Obama term is too much for them to handle. A presidential candidate cannot win with his base alone, and Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan does little to gain support from moderates and independents. With that being said, he is not nearly as bad a pick as Palin was, though.

  34. Ben P says

    In some ways, they’re quite similar: Presidential candidate with poor conservative credentials picks someone with a small territory (Ryan’s Wisconsin 1st has about 670,000 people, only slightly less than the state of Alaska), in order to fire up the base that he has a hard time reaching. However, the crossover appeal to moderates and liberals is minimal at best.

    One thing you’re missing is the extent to which the conventional wisdom has been supplanted in some circles by the Rove Strategy.

    I have a grudging respect for Karl Rove, I disagree with most of his politics, but he’s every bit as good at what he does as David Axelrod is (and possibly better).

    Rove’s insight that led to Bush winning in 2004 was that the middle doesn’t matter nearly as much as the conventional wisdom says it does. He predicted that the middle would break, well, down the middle, and rather than on swinging 1-2% of moderates to their cause, Bush would be far better served by getting 1-2% more turnout among social conservatives by pushing their buttons with gay marriage.

    Rove’s strategy worked at the right place and the right time, and Obama’s team took it to heart in some ways, focusing a lot of their efforts on turnout among young people that traditionally don’t turn out. Obama got a lot of moderates but there’s a good argument he was carried by turnout among African Americans and the 18-29 bracket.

    Conservatives on the other hand, have accepted the Rove strategy as gospel and in certain far right circles it’s now undisputed truth that “moderates don’t matter” and all you have to do to win is sufficiently fire up the base.

  35. slc1 says

    Re Abby Normal @ #41

    Oh come on, neither Romney/Ryan or Obama/Biden are even remotely as evil as Frankenberger and Stalin. Or Pol Pot or Mao Tse Dong for that matter. This is a totally idiotic comparison.

  36. wscott says

    @ Ben P:
    Exactly. By picking Ryan, the GOP is betting that increasing turnout from the base will outweigh all the independents they alienate. Personally, I think the success of the Rove Strategy in 2004 had more to do with 9/11 than anything else. I hope I’m not just believing that because I want to. If that strategy works in 2012, say goodbye to the last vestiges of political moderation in this country – not just because R&R would themselves be a disaster, but because it would “prove” that moderation itself is a losing strategy.

    @ Abby:
    “There’s always a difference! This is between ‘bad’ and ‘worse’ – which is always much sharper than between ‘good’ and ‘better.’” – Robert Heinlein
    I sympathize with your concerns. But even taking your Hitler-Stalin analogy, that’s exactly what the US did in WWII; we could not possibly have beaten Germany without Russia’s support. So should we have refused to ally with Stalin?

  37. says

    While I’m a strong advocate of recruiting more business leaders to public service; one way business leaders have caused the country to suffer is the following.

    Ryan is not a business leader. He worked briefly for his family’s business, and has had other odd jobs, but otherwise never had a career. Nearly his whole professional life has been politics.

    I don’t think that’s such a terrible thing actually. But it’s bizarre given that his political party attacks Obama for not having had enough “real world” experience and sneers at the very concept of public service.

  38. kermit. says

    Abby Normal – consider voting Green:
    http://www.gp.org/index.php

    This would show that you are not apathetic, nor crippled by GOP disenfranchisement tactics. Perhaps it will make the Democratic party reconsider its policies if they see a certain percentage choose an alternative. Or make a third party (this one, at least) a more viable choice.

  39. says

    His walking back is based on her being an atheist. Apparently, her atheism only started to bother him when the media started talking about him as a possible Romney running mate.

    He’s not alone on this. Rand is a big hero to lots of conservatives right up until they hear about her atheism.

    You see, the part of her philosophy that advocates infinite selfishness and total indifference to the well-being of other people is perfectly okay; that’s exactly what Jesus said in the Bible, or so they’ve heard. But not believing in God? The horrors! That might cause people to do bad things like raise taxes.

    It’s as if they’ve taken her twisted philosophy and made it even worse, if that’s possible. You end up with the bottomless egotism and sense of entitlement, but with arbitrary authoritarianism thrown in so that not only can you justify your greed, you have a divine mandate to boss around other people.

  40. says

    Rove’s insight that led to Bush winning in 2004 was that the middle doesn’t matter nearly as much as the conventional wisdom says it does. He predicted that the middle would break, well, down the middle, and rather than on swinging 1-2% of moderates to their cause, Bush would be far better served by getting 1-2% more turnout among social conservatives by pushing their buttons with gay marriage.

    The reason Bush won in 2004 is simple: He had an approval rating of around 54%, which is right near the line that essentially guarantees reelection. He actually underperformed given that advantage. Simply put, the “middle” liked him for some reason.

    Rove was not a genius and there is no evidence that turning out “the base”, as opposed to appealing more to moderates, was at all helpful. Exit polls show that conservative Republicans made up nearly the exact same fraction of the electorate in 2004 as they did in 2000 and again in 2008. Yet these elections all had very different outcomes. They had different outcomes because of who people voted for, not because of differential turnout.

  41. Abby Normal says

    @Slc1
    So when they’re as evil as Hitler and Stalin it’s okay to refuse to choose, as evidenced by your refusal to answer my question. But you’re willing to overlook murder and torture in order to secure victory for your party as long as it’s on Obama’s comparatively small scale. So we have our upper and lower bounds of acceptable evil. How much more evil does he have to be before my choice to oppose him is no longer irresponsible?

    @Wscot

    we could not possibly have beaten Germany without Russia’s support.

    And therein is a critical difference between war and a reoccurring election. Precisely because elections reoccur my choice to leave the party sends a message that they have to do better next time if they want my support. It’s the long term health of the electoral process that I’m now focused on. By contrast WW2 was a limited strategic alliance to achieve a one-time goal. I’ll still do that. I will still work with the Democrats when our goals align. That doesn’t mean I support them. Just that I’m willing to use them to achieve my goals.

    @ Kermit
    Thanks for the link. I haven’t decided what to do with my vote yet. The Green Party certainly in the running.

  42. Dennis N says

    The only way I’d consider voting for a third party is if we had something like the “Second choice” or “Instant-runoff” voting set up.

    If we had that, or political system would be all together less screwed up than it is, in my opinion. Much less captive voting blocs and being taken for granted as a voter.

  43. Abby Normal says

    Oh, and Wscott, I see your Heinlein quote and call with a War Games reference. ;-)

    [after playing out all possible outcomes for Global Thermonuclear War]
    Joshua: Greetings, Professor Falken.
    Stephen Falken: Hello, Joshua.
    Joshua: A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?

  44. typecaster says

    I am not sure Paul Ryan was Romney’s best choice for veep.

    I’ll be very interested in reading the campaign postmortems next year, when the insiders feel more comfortable talking about what really happened. With Palin, we found out that the high-level insiders were appalled by her incompetence from fairly early on in the campaign.

    What I’m interested in with Ryan is whether he really was Romney’s choice at all. I can imagine a scenario in which the ideologically bound right became even more nervous about Romney’s lack of ideological purity, especially after the Romneycare flap. Since ideologues would rather lose an election than compromise their agenda, it’s possible that the money men made it plain that unless Ryan were the VP pick, the contributions would dry up.

    He could be just a ticket-balancing choice catering to the base. But he could also be the Tea Party’s watchdog on a candidate that they trust even less than they trusted McCain. One of the things I’d look for is evidence that Ryan has a major role in determining the direction of Romney’s campaign from here on out.

  45. tomh says

    Precisely because elections reoccur my choice to leave the party sends a message that they have to do better next time if they want my support.

    What’s not reoccurring, at least not for 30 years or so, are Supreme Court appointments. So you’re fine with a couple of more Scalias on the Court for the next 30 years or so? For me that outweighs any other concerns, but, obviously, not everyone sees it that way.

  46. Abby Normal says

    @Tomh

    Indeed, the potential Supreme Court appointments were my biggest sticking point. Weighing the possible harm of more Republican appointed Justices against the actual harm done by Obama wasn’t easy. To be clear, when I said refusing to vote for either major party was the only rational and moral decision I could see I was speaking only for myself. I understand someone with different values could rationally and morally arrive at a completely different concussion. I ultimately came down on the other side of the Supreme Court issue, but I respect your view. I even respect Slc1’s position. It’s the characterization that my choice as irresponsible to which I object.

  47. harold says

    So Mr. Normal proposes to cut off his nose to spite his face.

    Alternately, he could be one of the large number of Republican plants who pose as “liberals who are going to vote for a third party or sit out”. There’s no way to know.

    I can only estimate, but I note that if internet comments claiming third party vote intentions were real, third party votes would presumably be far higher. I can also note that right wing extremists never seem to make comments about voting for a third party because the Republicans are too conservative.

    Conclusion – some people seem to make false claims of intending to vote for a third party, or sit out the election. And those false claims always seem to have the intention of encouraging progressives not to vote for the Democratic candidate, but never seem to have the intention of encouraging conservatives not to vote for the Republican.

    Also, that type of thing in general is more characteristic of the Republicans.

    So, although it’s a free country some people will really reject both parties, I nevertheless take exhortations by “progressive” usernames, that other progressives not try to prevent the election of Romney/Ryan by the obvious effective means of voting for Obama, with a large crystal of salt.

    I completely oppose many things about Obama – the same stuff that gets posted here, and a few things of my own – but I literally can’t think of a single thing that he is worse than the Republicans on. He’s always either the same, or better.

    If your goal is to get rid of torture and drone attacks on civilians, standing passively by and allowing Willard Romney to be elected is NOT a good first step.

  48. says

    Michael Heath’s entire analysis at 7 is spot on. And to both echo and complement Heath’s first paragraph, I’ll quote Jonathan Chait on the pick:

    The Ryan brand is rooted in his ostentatious wonkery. Because, unlike the Bushes and the Palins, he grounds his position in facts and figures, he seems like an encouraging candidate to strike a bargain. But the thing to keep in mind about Ryan is that he was trained in the world of Washington Republican think tanks. These were created out of a belief that mainstream economists were hopelessly biased to the left, and crafted an alternative intellectual ecosystem in which conservative beliefs the planet is not getting warmer, the economy is not growing more unequal can flourish, undisturbed by skepticism. Ryan is intimately versed in the blend of fact, pseudo-fact, and pure imagination inhabiting this realm.

  49. Abby Normal says

    Harold,

    I’ve been a regular commenter here for 5 or 6 years. I don’t think anyone who’s familiar with my writing would ever accuse me of being a Republican plant. There’s a handy search feature at the top of the page if you’d like to decide for yourself.

    I literally can’t think of a single thing that he is worse than the Republicans on. He’s always either the same, or better.

    I agree with this. Obama is the lesser evil. But, when the lesser evil should probably be in prison for war crimes, something is very wrong. It’s that wrong I seek to bring attention to and ultimately rectify.

  50. says

    Abby Normal “Obama is the lesser evil. But, when the lesser evil should probably be in prison for war crimes, something is very wrong.”
    That’s American Exceptionalism. Only countries that lose have people who go to jail.
    You do want to be a winner, don’t you?

    “It’s that wrong I seek to bring attention to and ultimately rectify.”
    1. Um, Primaries?
    2. You’re gonna need some wire and four diodes

  51. Jordan Genso says

    Not to pile on Abby Normal, but:

    It’s that wrong I seek to bring attention to and ultimately rectify.

    I’m not seeing how your actions will rectify the problem. I understand the protest vote for a third party sending the message “be more like the Green Party and you’ll have my vote”, or something like that, but your intended message and actual message are not the same thing.

    It seems to me that you want to stop the President’s support of a certain handful of policies. But your protest vote is too vague for it to be a part of rectifying the problem. Your protest vote says “be more like X”, but there’s no way for Democrats to know the areas in which you want them to be more like ‘X’ based solely on your vote. Should they be more eco-friendly? Favor more progressive taxes? Stop using drones? Be tougher with regulations?

    Protest voting doesn’t convey a precise message, other than “I’m not happy with either of the two main parties”. But since neither party can really tell why you’re unhappy based on your vote, that is not an effective means of getting them to change.

    Your protest vote is more likely to worsen other problems than it is to rectify any others. The way to solve the problems presented by the status quo is to get involved and work from the inside- the opposite of sitting on the sidelines.

    I respect your decision to sit on the sidelines for philosophical/moral reasons, but I don’t think you’ve made a good case for how that will rectify anything.

  52. harold says

    I retract my suspicion that you personally are a Republican “internet double agent”, while defending my overall point that there are many such.

    You mentioned Stalin versus Hitler. But I see it more as Stalin versus Kruschev. They’re both terribly flawed but one is very clearly a superior choice, and largely because the other is so terrible.

  53. wscott says

    @ Abby:

    And therein is a critical difference between war and a reoccurring election.

    Ah, well put. (And well quoted!) Sadly, I still think “choosing not to play” in the election just gives more weight to the extremist vote.

  54. slc1 says

    Re Abby Normal

    Been there, done that. In 1968, as a California voter, I refused to vote for Hubert Humphrey because of his support for the Vietnam War. I was not alone, the number of voters in the presidential election, as I recall, was some 40,000 votes less then in the hotly contested Senate election that same year. Of course, we can’t guarantee that all of the 40 thousand not votes were liberals upset with Humphrey. However, IMHO, it’s a fair inference, and if true, had we held our noses and voted for Humphrey, he would have carried California and won the election. What was the result of Nixon’s election. Watergate, selection of Rehnquist as Chief Justice, among other things. The democrats then proceeded to nominate George McGovern in 1972 who got buried, carrying only his home state and DC. McGovern was just the type that Mr. Normal would salivate after.

    I will repeat, if Mr. Normal lives in Texas, Utah, California, or New York, I would not have the slightest criticism of him sitting this one out as none of those 4 states are in play. However, if he lives in a purple state, and because of him and his like minded fellows Romney wins the election, I don’t want to hear a single complaint from him if and when he replaces Justice Ginsburg with a Robert Bork clone.

  55. Michael Heath says

    Abby Normal to Harold:

    I’ve been a regular commenter here for 5 or 6 years. I don’t think anyone who’s familiar with my writing would ever accuse me of being a Republican plant. There’s a handy search feature at the top of the page if you’d like to decide for yourself.

    My goodness. As a long time reader, Abby Normal is far too smart and principled to be a plant for anyone, let alone the Republican party.

    Having said that, I respectfully request Abby Normal take some time to set some long-term and pressing national priorities and then evaluate the marginal impact Republicans can have on those priorities if they win the presidency and improve their allotment of seats in the Congress. I can’t make a good argument after having done that myself for not voting Democrat in regards to national level races. That’s been true for me since 2002 where the difference only grows larger between the GOP and Democrats. That’s in spite of me not being a Democrat and still voting Republican in some local races along with the rare state race. [At the local level it's common for no Democrat to even be running, the real election being the primary.]

  56. says

    Even if all other matters were equal, which they aren’t, I would see Romney’s future Supreme Court nominations alone as having staggering, negative consequences given the increasingly activist, right-side lurch of the court.

  57. tbp1 says

    People may THINK Ryan is bright and a policy wonk, and that will be the conventional wisdom passed on by the courtiers passing as journalists these days, but in fact he is neither.

  58. Abby Normal says

    @Jordan Genso
    You bring up a good point. Simply withholding my vote is a fairly meaningless gesture. It would be like staging a sit-in without explaining why. That’s the reason I also talk, quite strongly if you haven’t noticed, about why I’m choosing not to vote. It’s the combination of action and speech that forms the protest and gives it weight. Otherwise either one might rightly be called empty. Even together it’s merely symbolic unless others add their weight. But if all I’ve done is made some people a little more uncomfortable about the ethics of putting a torturer in the Oval Office, I’ll take it.

    As we’re on the topic, if anyone else is having similar reservations, please let your party know. Write your Chair. Write your Congressman. Hell, write to the White House. Let them know that you stand against torture, no matter to which nation or party those who commit it belong.

    I’m simply dumbfounded that’s a plea I have to make.

    @Michael Heath
    Damn, you know me too well. I can’t resist a challenge like that. I’ll give your approach a try. Do you have any recommendations on where I should start?

    @Slc1
    If you truly blame yourself for Nixon, Watergate, and Rehnquist then I can see why you’re so adamant. So let me ask you this, are you more responsible for the actions of a man you didn’t vote for than the actions of a man you did? Or will you also take responsibility for Obama’s crimes?

  59. slc1 says

    Re Abby Normal 68

    Or will you also take responsibility for Obama’s crimes?

    Considering that his “crimes” are of a significantly less serious nature then his predecessor and will be less serious then a President Romney, the answer is yes. Based on my experience, I wish that I and like minded Californians had held our noses and voted for Humphrey. Given the damage that Romney will be able to do, particularly since, if he wins, the Rethuglicans will likely take over the Senate, this is a case where the lesser o the two evils is, in my opinion, considerably less evil.

    By the way, I have to give Obama a lot of credit for limiting US involvement in Libya, allowing Sarkozy and Cameron to carry the ball, for which he has been heavily criticized by the likes of Charles Krauthammer, and, thus far, showing commendable caution on intervening in Syria, again under heavy criticism from the neocons, and even some of his supporters like Jeffrey Goldberg. I suspect that if Romney is elected and the Syrian civil war is still going on next January, President Romney will be gung ho for intervention, which would be a mistake of monumental proportions.

  60. Michael Heath says

    Abby Normal writes:

    I can’t resist a challenge like that. I’ll give your approach a try. Do you have any recommendations on where I should start?

    Climate change

    China Policy (which is linked to the above since China is increasing its share of coal emissions)

    Issues coming to the federal courts (judicial appointments)

    Iran and Pakistan (I’m sick of the U.S. going to war.)

    Education (The GOP is now against at, and at the state level highly successful, now the GOP is increasingly targeting the eradication of the DOE.)

    Tax Policy

    Fiscal policy which effects both the labor and capital markets.

    Entitlements – Romney’s effectively sided with Ryan on killing Medicare and Medicaid.

    Obamacare – The GOP seeks to take down Obamacare with no supplant plan. This would cause healthcare costs to go over 20% of total GDP while cutting 50+ million Americans from access to healthcare. In subsequent decades the proportion would increase given the GOP’s entitlement plans.

    Nominations to the Federal Reserve Bank [The GOP is increasingly adopting creationist-like policies towards the Fed. Ryan actually voted in the House recently to end the Fed's ability to support policies which decreased unemployment which helps lenders but leads to economic contraction.]

  61. Jordan Genso says

    Abby Normal @68

    That’s the reason I also talk, quite strongly if you haven’t noticed, about why I’m choosing not to vote.

    I had considered that counterpoint when writing my comment @61, and I agree the vocalization of your displeasure is something you absolutely should be doing. But when the conversation then devolves into whether or not you should still vote even though you are displeased (which is pretty hard to avoid, as is evidenced in this thread), the issues you are protesting move to the background.

    Since your vote is one of the main things you have to offer (and therefore withhold) from politicians, it makes sense to try and leverage it as efficiently as possible to influence them for the better. But it’s not the only leverage you have. While I personally don’t feel there are enough issues the President is mishandling to justify sitting on the sidelines this election cycle, I think that if you want to make a bigger impact, it would be preferable to hold out your financial support or volunteer hours in an attempt to demonstrate your disproval. If you’re just withholding your vote (and vocalizing that), then it’s easier for the politician to dismiss it since your vote is a relatively easier thing to replace. If instead, you are normally an active political volunteer/donor, but you then vocalize that you’re not going to knock on doors during GOTV or donate any money this year because of the President’s unconstitutional policies, I think the campaigns would view that as more notable.

    Look at the Ryan pick for VP. As has been discussed, it is viewed as an attempt by Romney to energize the base. Many people are saying that most of the Republican voters would’ve held their noses and voted for him regardless, so it’s not their base’s votes that this pick was designed to help them with, but their base’s support (aka volunteer hours and donations).

    So even though I still don’t think your approach will succeed in rectifying the problems, I do want you to be as successful as possible. And one last thing:

    As we’re on the topic, if anyone else is having similar reservations, please let your party know. Write your Chair. Write your Congressman. Hell, write to the White House.

    That’s why I suggest becoming your Chair (or joining the party’s Executive Committee), or running for Congress, and influencing it from the inside. If you are a county Chair, or one of the candidates, and you are telling your fellow Democrats that they need to keep the party in check on certain policies, it makes more impact than a letter. But when you’re the Chair or the candidate, then you’re also harmed by the discouraged progressives who stay home on election day rather than vote for “the lesser of two evils”.

  62. gerryl says

    @32 wrote “He looks to me like a smug lying weasel, a grown up Eddie Haskell.”

    Wrong Eddie. He’s actually little Eddie Munster … all grown up. You didn’t know?

  63. sawells says

    Just been mulling over a little electoral math re. the question of the effect of not voting.

    Since we’re discussing the US system here we have a straight choice between candidates/parties A and B.

    The key to being elected is not the absolute number of votes going to either A or B, but rather the difference between them. Let’s say X = “A votes” minus “B votes”, so A wins iff X is positive while B wins if X is negative. Let’s consider the difference between the last election and the current election.

    How does a person voting or not voting affect X? That is, what is the deltaX of your voting choice, compared to the last election?

    If you voted neither this time nor last time your actions give deltaX=0, the baseline. That seems rational.

    The simple case is if you did not vote last time and you do vote this time. A new vote for A gives deltaX=+1, a new vote for B gives deltaX=-1.

    What if you did vote last time? Let’s suppose you voted for A last time. If you vote for A again, we have deltaX=0, the status quo is maintained. If you do not vote this time, we have deltaX=-1, the same result as if a new voter had voted for B. And if you change camps entirely and vote for B this time, we actually have deltaX=-2 ; by reducing A’s vote by 1 and increasing B’s vote by one.

    Oddly, this means that changing your vote from one party to not voting actually has the same electoral effect as the other party recruiting a new voter, while a voter changing parties has more electoral influence than a new voter.

  64. slc1 says

    Re Michael Heath @ #70

    Iran and Pakistan (I’m sick of the U.S. going to war.)

    That’s a serious concern, considering that Romney is an old buddy of Bibi Netanyahu dating back to when they were graduate students in the Boston area (Romney going to Harvard, Bibi to MIT). Throw in the megabucks being given to Romney by Sheldon Adelson, an extreme hawk on Israel, and the influence of the neocons on any Rethuglican administration, I believe that a President Romney will launch a bombing campaign against Iran not too long after taking office. Based on reports in the Israeli press, Obama has everything he can handle in restraining Bibi from launching a bombing attack against Iran. There seems to be a feeling that Bibi will launch such an attack at any moment, regardless of the opposition of the high command of the IDF and the Israeli intelligence agencies.

  65. Abby Normal says

    I’m sure we could continue this discussion until November. But I think we’ve all had ample opportunity to state our case. You’ve given me a lot to think about and I hope I’ve returned the favor. Thank you.

  66. says

    I still won’t vote for Obama while he continues to enable torture and even order the assassination of American citizens.

    You really think it would be an improvement to allow the party that started those disgraceful policies back into power? That’s how all those evil policies — and more besides — got started in the first place: because too many decent progressive people stayed home on election day.

    The choice this year is between the party that opposes evil inconsistently, and the party that supports it consistently. Neither is perfect, but that doesn’t mean the difference is unimportant.

  67. slc1 says

    Re Raging Bee @ #78

    That’s how all those evil policies — and more besides — got started in the first place: because too many decent progressive people stayed home on election day.

    Actually, I would argue that too many decent progressive people in New Hampshire and Florida voted for Nader. Al Gore then, like Barack Obama now just isn’t progressive enough for them.

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