Sunday, October 21, 2012

On the eve of the election

Stein-Erik Dahle10/20/2012 1:37 PM

Hello friend.
This might come across as a bit harsh, but how can any intelligent christian person support Mitt Romney? He changes his position on ANYTHING depending on who he is talking to, including abortion, taxes, health care, you name it, and tells any kind of lies without flinching. I'm following your election here from Norway and I must say I'm astonished by all the obvious stupidity I witness.

 i) The allegation that Romney panders to his base, which is largely true, cuts both ways. When his base is more liberal (e.g. Massachusetts), his policies tack more to the left–but when his base is more conservative (e.g. national GOP candidate), his policies tack more to the right. Better a candidate who does the right thing for the wrong reason than a candidate who does the wrong thing, regardless of his motivations.

ii) No doubt Romney is a flip-flopper, but you’re exaggerating his vacillation. For instance, I think Romney is patriotic in a way that Obama is not. Romney’s not a self-hating American like Obama. He’s proud to be American.

Likewise, Romney’s a successful businessman, so when he campaigns for pro-business policies, that’s authentic. That’s something he really believes in. Shallow, but genuine.

By the same token, when he opposes a “government-centered” society, that’s consistent with his free market ideology. He believes in competition. He believes in capitalism.

In addition, there’s no evidence thus far that Romney would flout the rule of law (and thereby subvert representative democracy) the way Obama and his apparatchiks do.

iii) Are those the first things I value in a candidate? No. I’d prefer a culture warrior. But that’s not in the cards this election cycle.

iv) I’d also add that at this juncture, economics and social issues are interrelated. Democrats like joblessness. That’s a pretext to hike taxes. That increases dependence on government.

The more that Democrats co-opt the private sector, the more power they have to socially reengineer the country. Look at how they are using Obamacare, as HHS administers the program and “interprets” the law, under Kathleen Sebelius, to impose their social agenda on the nation.

So even though capitalism isn’t directly linked to the culture wars, moving away from a “government-centered” society (in Romney’s words) would contribute to the culture wars. The two issues are now linked.

Likewise, he's not going to nominate someone like Eric Holder for a key cabinet position. 

Romney’s a shallow man with a shallow value-system, but it facilitates a deeper, better value-system.

Ryan10/21/2012 7:25 AM


I don't discourage voting. My interest lies in the idea that it doesn't make sense to vote for a third party candidate. I am not sure what message you think ought to be conveyed such that undecided voters in non-swing states - a number that even at this point in the process I would hesitate to call "few and far between" and certainly is more than 1% - should vote for Romney? We can talk about what "potential damage" that could be done of a relatively higher portion of the state voted for a third party candidate, but we could also talk about the actual damage the virtual two-party system has done. Even though we are speaking pragmatically, I see no reason to vote for Romney over Gary Johnson when I prefer the latter. I live in Georgia, a classic red state. Romney's going to win it this year, so I don't see any point in campaigning for a candidate who would not be my first choice. Maybe it would be different if I were in a swing state, though I admit I tend to be more of an idealist.

i) It’s true that in very red states or very blue states, you can cast a free vote. It won’t cost the election. That’s more relevant in politically competitive states.

ii) Mind you, I don’t think Gary Johnson is an improvement over Mitt Romney. I realized he’s the darling of some libertarians, but I never cared for his platform–even if he’d been a viable candidate.


  1. Nice post. I'm actually a Ron Paul kind of voter, but I am convinced I must throw my vote in to dethrone Barak. He is a terrible and inept leader of our nation. Perhaps he is the worse president of all time. I pray he comes to know Christ, and turns from his wicked ways of promoting abortion, partial-birth abortion, and even infanticide.

  2. One problem you might run into is that if Obama goes to his left, Republicans will oppose him. But if Romney goes left, it has a better chance of sticking. If Hubert Humphrey had gone to China, he would have been called a communist appeaser and would have gotten zero bipartisan support. If Romney repeals Obamacare and replaces it with something equally socialistic, or supports an assault weapons ban, Republicans won't put up a pitched battle against him. If he goes "multiple choice" on abortion, he could do more harm to the right to life than Obama ever could.

    I would maintain that an Romney election would probably advance the conservative cause more than an Obama re-election. But maybe not be nearly as much as most people think.

    Meanwhile, the hard left can barely tolerate Obama.

  3. Romney is not ideal. He is, however, far more preferable than is Obama. I'll take what I can get at this point.

  4. You're getting a black box with a Republican label.

    1. Victor Reppert wrote:

      "You're getting a black box with a Republican label."

      One who's surrounded himself with conservatives like Paul Ryan and Robert Bork. One who will be working with a largely conservative Congress. One who, once he attains the presidency, will have no higher office to seek and who will know that his consistency will go a long way in shaping his long term reputation.

      There's more of a risk of inconsistency with Romney than with the typical candidate. But it's not as much of a risk as you're suggesting. And if Romney were to be significantly inconsistent, it's doubtful that he'd move anywhere near as far to the left as Obama. A moderate Romney would still be a big improvement over the current occupant.

  5. Victor Reppert said:

    "You're getting a black box with a Republican label."

    1. I don't agree. But let's play along for a moment.

    2. Say there are two boxes, Box R and Box O:

    a. First scenario. Say both Box O and Box R contain nothing. It's a push. We'd have to pick based on factors besides what the boxes contain.

    b. Second scenario. Say Box O contains nothing while Box R contains either nothing or a prize. Why shouldn't we pick Box R then? After all, we could possibly get a prize but the worst we could get is nothing which is the same as picking Box O.

    c. Third scenario. Say Box O contains nothing while Box R contains either nothing, a prize, or a poison. All things equal, this means that on a single pick there's a 1/3 chance to get nothing, a 1/3 chance to get a prize, and a 1/3 chance to get a poison by picking Box R. We could explore this further but suffice to say it might make some a bit more reluctant to pick Box R.

    d. Fourth scenario. Say Box O contains either nothing or a poison while Box R either contains nothing, a prize, or a poison. If we pick Box O then we have a 1/2 chance of getting nothing and a 1/2 chance of getting a poison. But if we pick Box R then we only have a 1/3 chance of getting nothing, a 1/3 chance of getting a prize, and a 1/3 chance of getting a poison. Or to put it another way, if we pick Box O then we have a 50% chance of getting a poison or a 100% chance of getting either nothing or a poison. But if we pick Box R then we have an approximately 33% of getting a poison or 67% chance of getting either nothing or a poison. If conservatives are trying to minimize harm, then there's less of a chance of harm by picking Box R.

    e. Fifth scenario. I could entertain a scenario where Box O contains a poison while Box R contains nothing, a prize, or a poison. In this case it'd be better to pick Box R over Box O since with Box O there's a 100% chance of getting a poison but with Box R there's approximately a 33% chance.

    f. Sixth Scenario. I won't consider Box O to include a prize because I don't think conservatives see any sort of an overall boon in picking Obama.

  6. g. Seventh scenario. We've been keeping things simple and saying these choices are as equally likely as the others. But in my opinion, I don't think Box O (Obama) would have a 1/2 chance of getting nothing (status quo) and a 1/2 chance of getting a poison. I think there's more likelihood of getting a poison by picking Box O. Likewise I think it's less likely Box R (Romney) will be poisonous because of various delimiting factors.

    i. For example, as Steve noted, Romney significantly panders to his base.

    ii. Obama is an ideologue, whereas Romney is anything but an ideologue.

    iii. Paul Ryan is on the ticket. Ryan isn't a mere symbol against Obamacare, etc. He's more than able and quite willing to do the hard work to overturn Obamacare, etc. That's a big reason why Romney picked Ryan. Most all conservatives know this.

    iv. I don't see why there couldn't be a "pitched battle" against Romney if he takes a hard left turn on certain issues? Conservatives already know he's more of a Rockefeller Republican.

    v. Romney would have to worry about midterm elections and re-election. So even if Romney wanted to do anything I would think it's unlikely to happen in his first term. By then Americans may think differently about him. Or there might be better choices.

    vi. A possible scenario where Romney might go left is if Congress is majority Democratic and edges him left. He might compromise or appease. But again he's delimited by other factors too.

    vii. There are several other delimiting factors we could talk about.

    3. There are obviously a lot of assumptions which we can't necessarily make. Such that the poisons in both boxes are equally poisonous. Or that the nothings in both boxes are equally inert. Or that a box can't concurrently contain a prize and a poison as in reality a POTUS can do both great harm as well as great good. Or that not picking a box is an option. Or that the goal we should aim for is harm reduction. Or that this sort of bare bones simplified (and at the risk of being overly simplistic) probabilization is even the right approach. (Perhaps we should try some game theory instead!) And so on and so forth.