As all good libertarians do, I like to complain about politics on Facebook. A conservative friend of mine objected to my assertion in a recent post that the differences between Republicans and Democrats, and by extension, Romney and Obama, are fuzzy at best. Not so, he claimed. A Romney victory last Tuesday would have spelled the end for Obamacare; severe restrictions on businesses and EPA regulations that are choking off job creation would be have been a thing of the past.
I know what Romney said he would do, but in order to be able to assess what he actually might have done, it’s important to compare his policy aims with what previous Republican presidents have actually done. What of Bush and the EPA for example? According to a Politico article from last year, Republicans were bashing the Obama administration for trying to achieve the same greenhouse gas objectives the Bush administration pursued under the Clean Air Act. Why would Romney's EPA be more conservative, given that his conservative credentials are perpetually in doubt?
This doesn’t comport with how the process works. When people vote, they are voting for the philosophy espoused by the guy they are voting for. They are voting for values, and are usually oblivious to results (outside of issues which affect them directly, such as tax rates). Very little ever changes. When we consider $120 trillion in unfunded liabilities that need to be either funded or eliminated it is very difficult to see how any president, right or left, is going to fix things without spending ALL of his political capital and likely leaving office a broken, deeply unpopular man. Real change requires angering one’s own constituents, not just those of the opposite party in a world where every federal dollar has already been spoken for by some constituency before it has even been borrowed from China or the Fed.
People get into politics to make a difference. I believe most politicians at least start out sincere. At some point they get “mugged by reality,” when they realize what a farce it is, but often decide they want to stay and play the game anyway, employing the same old focus-group-tested rhetoric. Matching the practice to the rhetoric is going to have to be the realm of those who have uncommon political courage. Romney, like so many before him, just wasn’t the man for the job.