CHOOSING PRIVATE RYAN August 12, 2012Posted by wmmbb in US Politics.
The choice by Mitt Romney of Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as his Vice Presidential nominee was, at least to me, puzzling.
One excepts the Republican Convention to endorse the selection, since four years ago the standard was set with the endorsement of Sarah Palin, who then was governor of Alaska. Women are an important demographic group, so perhaps Sarah may have attracted some of the female vote, but the important role she played was to mobilize the turnout of the most bizarre feature of the American political landscape, the Tea Party. I contend that they typically turn out in the wrong clobber. They should be dressed as Native Americans, as I recall that was the attire when the East India companies barrels of tea were liberated into Boston Harbour. But then, I have to concede, they must know their own history much better than I do.
Setting aside their respective ages, the striking thing to me is how similar both of the putative Republican Party candidates look. One notes the difference in religion, but that does not seem to matter. On its face this similarity seems paradoxical in the light of the justification implicit in the two-party duopolopy over the political system, and its’ political and social plurality represented by independent national political organizations. Ethic dominance and diversity are inherent in the American multicultural formation. The political party system has represented more of the former, and hence, as in other societies in which similar fabrications have been created, demographic change inevitably creates anxiety and represents a threat to the status quo. Thus the question, sometimes explicit as to who is a true American. President Obama has broken the cast.
“Liberty” is not normally understood as a pernicious ideological justification. Yet, for example, the suggestion of compulsory voting would be reflectively be rejected as beyond the boundaries of acceptable discourse. Voter suppression, by the use of identification requirements such as drivers licences and other forms, the failure to provide equal access to polling stations, and the implicit cultivation of indifference and rejection of the official choices, leads to low voter turnout. Thus the emphasis on appealing to the active voters, often ideological committed.
Ryan’s views are pure social Darwinism. As William Graham Sumner, the progenitor of social Darwinism in America, put it in the 1880s: “Civilization has a simple choice.” It’s either “liberty, inequality, survival of the fittest” or “not-liberty, equality, survival of the unfittest. The former carries society forward and favors all its best members; the latter carries society downwards and favors all its worst members.”
Is this Mitt Romney’s view as well?
Some believe Romney chose Ryan solely in order to drum up enthusiasm on the right. Since most Americans have already made up their minds about whom they’ll vote for, and the polls show Americans highly polarized – with an almost equal number supporting Romney as Obama — the winner will be determined by how many on either side take the trouble to vote. So in picking Ryan, Romney is motivating his rightwing base to get to the polls, and pull everyone else they can along with them.
But there’s reason to believe Romney also agrees with Ryan’s social Darwinism. Romney accuses President Obama of creating an “entitlement society” and thinks government shouldn’t help distressed homeowners but instead let the market “hit the bottom.” And although Romney has carefully avoided specifics in his own economic plan, he has said he’s “very supportive” of Ryan’s budget plan. “It’s a bold and exciting effort, an excellent piece of work, very much needed … very consistent with what I put out earlier.”
So the Republicans are offering a stark choice for the voters. The focus will be on domestic economic policy. The scale of war spending, foreign bases, the murderous terrorism of the drones, not to mention international trade agreements, including the so-called war on drugs and the disturbances south of the border in Mexico are not up for democratic debate and consideration, despite their domestic implications.
Ryan would not have been chosen, if the clone brand was not considered saleable. The proposition remains open to doubt. This choice may founder on the rock that the Occupy Movements, despite it successful and brutal suppression, has changed the framing and meaning of the political landscape.
So given the consensus on America’s role in the world, particularly the unquestioning support for the hare-brained schemes of the Likud Government of Israel, what has happened to the tradition of isolationism? Gore Vidal is caught up in those polemics in a brief except from an interview on the BBC:
Related articles: Other commentators on the choice:
- In tight races, according to Billy House at National Journal, Republican candidates are distancing themselves from the national ticket, because the sense of entitlement among older voters is stronger than their desire for “give me liberty”. Americans are remarkably similar to voters elsewhere. Framing the political discussion is one thing; behavior is another.
- At AlterNet, Don Hazem argues the Ryan pick represents a danger to the future of the nation. Despite the initial response of some, it is far from stupid because it positions Ryan as future presidential candidate within 12-16 years, even sooner. 9 Reasons Romney’s Choice of Ryan is Smarter than You Think.
- THE RYAN CHOICE – SOCIAL DARWINISM by Robert Reich (beyondrisk.wordpress.com)
- The Ryan Pick: Why Romney Changed to Obama’s Game (nymag.com)