Ted Rall on the consequences of the Ryan pick

Mitt Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan has generated much discussion of whether it will help energize the base of the Republican party and thus help them get more votes.

Cartoonist and essayist Ted Rall, no fan of Barack Obama, says that there is another aspect that is not being looked at as closely.

Between Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate, his team of Dubya-rehash economic advisors (because that worked out so well) and Tea Party favorite Chris Christie as keynote speaker at this year’s Republican National Convention, the Republican Party is in danger of doing something that seemed impossible just a few months ago: strengthening support among the liberal base of the Democratic Party for President Obama.

Granted, disappointed lefties will not soon forget Obama’s betrayals. Guantánamo, the concentration camp that supposedly holds “the worst of the worst” terrorists, remains open—although, now that the White House is reportedly negotiating with the Taliban to exchange captured Afghan ministers for an American POW, one assumes they’re not all that bad. The drone wars against Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere are an affront to basic morality, logic and decency. On the economy, this tone-deaf president has yet to propose a jobs program, much less try to push one through Congress.

But many progressives, until recently threatening to sit on their hands or cast votes for a third party, are reconsidering, weighing disgust against gathering terror as they read the signals from the gathering storm in Tampa. Where Obama fails to inspire enthusiasm, the Romney team seems determined to generate as much fear as possible that he plans to shove the needle even further to the radical right than Reagan or Bush.

This is a Republican Party that Barry Goldwater wouldn’t recognize, batso nutso, stripped of the last veneer of libertarianism, completely owned by and in thrall to figures whom the media would characterize as “extreme nationalist” or “neo-Nazi” if they spouted the same nonsense in other countries.

The full essay is worth reading.

Rall also has a cartoon on why Romney picked Ryan.


  1. says

    …stripped of the last veneer of libertarianism…

    Is he fucking kidding? Their fiscal, regulatory, environmental, financial, and civil-rights policies are nothing BUT libertarianism. Ted Rall just pissed away his credibility with that sentence.

  2. Reginald Selkirk says


    In general I agree with you, but I would leave this one off the list. Obama made some serious efforts to depopulate Guantánamo in his first year, but was blocked by Congress -- both parties.
    A jobs bill would certainly be blocked by the Republicans in the House, but Obama should try any way. He rolled over too quickly to them in budget negotiations.

  3. Reginald Selkirk says

    Libertarianism is becoming such a broad term that it’s hard to tell what a person means by it any more.

  4. says

    Tax cuts, spending cuts, deregulation, dismantling of every part of government dedicated to actually protecting the rights of ordinary people, and relentless demonization of liberals as commies/nazis/collectivists, are standard core tenets of libertarianism, and have been since the 1970s. There’s nothing vague or ambiguous about what the libertarians who matter (i.e., those whose corporate funding and guidance make them major players) believe.

  5. smrnda says

    I’ve always considered libertarianism to be just a sort of feudalism -- it makes the wealthy into feudal lords, and we can all be their serfs and vassals. It’s an ideology unfit for the modern world. The problem is that some libertarians seem to think of the idea of civilization collapsing is a good thing -- then all the guns and gold bars they’ve been hoarding might finally be an advantage instead of an impractical hobby.

  6. says

    I don’t normally comment on politics, but Romney picking Ryan seemed like such a boneheaded idea. The type of people who would vote for Romney because of Ryan would have voted for Romney anyway just to spite Obama no matter who is VP is. All Romney has done is alienate the swing voters, who time and again are the deciding factors in elections.

  7. Doug Little says

    Yes I thought this as well and have been wondering what the Republicans game plan is going to be going forward. They would have to know that swing voters and undecideds typically win elections especially now more than ever with the polarization that we currently see. I don’t know how Ryan could possibly help them in this respect. Maybe they have determined that the group of undecideds and swing voters isn’t very big this year and it is better to try and mobilize the base to get as many staunchly republican people out to vote who otherwise might not have.

    I can only hope that they don’t know what they are doing.

  8. typecaster says

    My take on it is that it’s just the reverse of the normal situation. The Ryan pick wasn’t about winning swing voters or independents -- it was about winning Republicans. The Tea Party base doesn’t like Romney, or trust him not to be a secret moderate. That’s why he can’t swing to the center after the primaries -- he risks the Tea Party bolting to third parties. He picked one of the best-known Tea Party legislators to keep his own base loyal to his ticket. The swing/independents will have to be won some other way, probably by voter suppression.

    This is a very, very odd election season.

  9. says

    Yeah, that’s how I read it too. There’s a nugget of truth in here too… libertarianism can be a consistent political philosophy; I happen to think it’s a dangerously wrong philosophy, but it is possible to apply the principles in a way that is consistent and true to its basic ideals. The GOP does not even try to do that, instead picking and choosing when to apply libertarian principles and when not, simply trying to justify a far right nationalistic agenda.

  10. says

    Yeah, the conventional wisdom seems to be that this was an error. Shoring up the base was at best a secondary concern this year, since Obama brings out such spittle-flecked rage in the Republican faithful. Worse, not only does Ryan alienate many swing voters, but he does it in a manner that plays directly into Romney’s perceived weaknesses: That he’s an out-of-touch rich guy who has “fuck the poor” tattooed on his left butt cheek. Whoops.

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