Why Paul Ryan is a good VP candidate

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mitt Romney's choice of Paul Ryan as his vice-presidential candidate in the race for the Presidency struck many including this editor as counter-intuitive and weird, and here's why: Typically the candidate, whether incumbent or challenger, solidifies his base early on in the election cycle, then attempts to shift toward the center to gather all the swing voters waiting their turn for attention.

This puts the candidate at risk for accusations of flip-floppery, and both Romney and Obama have been accused of this, but Romney has taken the worst of the attacks for a good reason, namely that he started much more in the center ideologically as Governor of Massachusetts, then has attempted to align himself with the ideologues of the Right. This has led to the charges of hypocrisy regarding his attitude toward health care, among other issues. After all, wasn't Romneycare quite similar to Obamacare? Yes it was.

In choosing Ryan, Romney has clearly decided that instead of trying to shift back toward the center and round up the undecided voters, he will instead double down on the Far Right, the neo-con/Tea Party base that surged to such power two years ago and though has been much quieter more recently, is still a potent force.

Eureka Springs has a long history of extremists, for lack of a better word, getting into city government and wreaking sheer hell with their engagement in local politics of the tinfoil-in-my-hat, Down With the Establishment variety, and their resistance to everything they didn't put on the agenda, and some things they did. This is okay on the level of city government, perhaps, but for God's sake, don't elect an ideological extremist to potential/back-up leadership of the Free World! There are examples I could name for comparison, but I really don't equate Paul Ryan with Pohl Pot or Hitler or Castro or anybody else of that caliber. They put their theories to work and Ryan has not.

Here are three reasons Romney is screwing the pooch by caving in to the Far Right, and why Ryan was a mistake for the GOP and a blessing for the Left:

* He's preaching to the choir. Romney long ago scooped up most of the hard-core conservative voters. Choosing Ryan will make Romney less attractive to those in the middle who are perhaps looking for some reason(s) to hope he isn't the Right Wing out-of-touch corporate raider he's been portrayed as. Yes, the Teabaggers are jumping for joy at the choice of this stalwart young white Libertarian cut-Medicare anti-abortion anti-immigration shrink-government wunderkind, but so what? They were already going to vote for Romney.

* No government in the history of the world has flourished by shrinking the size of itself as a flat-out policy. Name one. The main job of today's federal government is to help protect regular folks like you and me from dangers and risks we cannot control, everything from poor health to good roads and food safety to environmental concerns. The argument that getting the government out of (fill in the blank) will "allow" the private sector to step in out of largesse and take up the slack is nonsense. Human nature has historically mitigated against such behavior again and again for thousands of years. That ain't how we roll, mostly. Most if not all of the systems in place that do work however well (think workers comp or auto insurance) do so because they are strictly regulated. Based on everything glean-able from Ryan's record, he would disagree vigorously with all the above, and for that he is deeply wrong.

* Sarah Palin. Think back four years. When John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his VP candidate, he was attempting to buttress his own image as an old man and party insider with a fresh young sexy idealistic woman who was everything he was not but who represented the ideals of the party to the core. And she was all that and a bag of chips. But what if McCain, the oldest candidate in history, had won, then died in office? President Palin? Like Palin, Ryan is attractive and pure in his extremism. But if he means what he says, then he is a scary guy indeed. Look up his hero Ayn Rand in conjunction with his name. He might make a good VP, which is essentially a job of waiting-just-in-case and not sticking your foot in your mouth too often, but Paul Ryan in charge of the world's greatest superpower? No. Really, no.

Your vote counts and this is an important election. Don't waste it.