Amazing how the Simpsons is still pretty funny after 25 years…
In the interest of full disclosure, I thought I’d list the reasons why I voted the way I did. I know conservative media regularly accuse professors of politicizing the classroom, but an honest discussion of why one chooses the way one did can also be useful exercise of citizenship. (See Drezner for an example of what I was thinking of.) So with that goal, not demagoguery, in mind, here we go:
1. The Tea Party Scares Me
This is easily the most important reason for me. Regular readers of my own blog will know that I vote in the Republican primary and write regularly about the Republican party, but almost never about the Democrats. (Even in Korea where I live, my sympathies are with the conservatives.) I don’t see myself as a Democrat. I see myself as a moderate Republican, like Andrew Sullivan or (less so) David Frum. Unfortunately, the Tea Party has made the GOP very inhospitable for moderates.
Given Romney’s propensity to blow with the ideological wind rather than stake a claim somewhere, I think it is likely he’ll get bullied by the hard right once in office. Following Kornacki, my problem with Romney is not his ideology – because I don’t know what that is – but the party from which he stems, run, as it is, by increasingly radical, Christianist, southern right-wingers. I find it simply impossible to vote for a party so contemptuous of science, so willing to violate church-state distinctions, so committed to a heavily armed citizenry, so obsessed with regulating sex, so strutting and belligerent toward the rest of the world, so unwilling to compromise on taxes to close the deficit, etc. Hint to the RNC: the rest of the country is not Dixie; please stop dragging us down this road. This southernization of the GOP in the last 20 years has made it harder and harder for me to vote for national Republicans, even though I vote for them a lot in Ohio. Not surprisingly, I find Andrew Sullivan’s conservatism quite congenial.
George W Bush practically built his re-election effort against John Kerry on the idea that even if you disagreed with him, you consistently knew where he stood on stuff. That commercial above is famous. And the US right in general loves that sort of macho grandstanding on behalf of American will in the face of wimpy, carping detractors – usually Europeans, academics, and liberals, ideally combined. Remember ‘freedom fries’?
Palin and McCain struck the same pose in 2008 (‘I would much rather lose a campaign than a war’), and so did lots of Tea Party candidates in 2010 and in the 2012 GOP primary. Remember when Perry even said, “I’ll be for water-boarding until the day I die”? And Fox talks like this all the time, as if Hannity were the last bastion of American bootstrap ideals against a rising tide of liberals, illegal immigrants, and Muslims. So if the Tea Party right loves this ‘let’s-go-down-with-the-ship-on-behalf-of-principle’ posture, how can one possibly support Romney after he flip-flopped all over the place in the first debate last week?
Per Dan’s post below, I don’t understand why Russia is our number-one enemy, either today or ten years from now. Neither, it seems, do Americans, who have only noticed Russia’s phantom menace at one period in the past several years–immediately after the invasion of Georgia in 2008. Below, polling data from the Pew Research Center on the question of which country represents the greatest danger to the United States; these are not all the answers, but they are the biggest ones. Russia is the orange line. Note that these are free-response questions, which explains Iraq’s presence on the list and also (in the full version) why “South Korea” occasionally makes the list.
The speech on the “values of liberty” at Warsaw University on Tuesday is expected to seek to rekindle the flames of US cold war righteousness by featuring a strong attack on Russia and President Vladimir Putin’s rollback of democratic gains, while also criticising the US president, Barack Obama, for allegedly sacrificing the interests and security of central European democracy in favour of realpolitik with the Kremlin.
Romney has previously described Russia as America’s “No 1 geopolitical foe”, in contrast with Obama, who has sought to press “the reset button” in relations with Moscow.
I’ve seen a lot of speculation to the effect of “WTF” “what is this all about?” Here are some possible (non-exclusive) answers:
Russia is a politically savvy “enemy” for Romney. Treating Moscow as America’s greatest rival fits with the anti-Obama contrarianism of the current Republican party — the “if Obama is for it then we are against it” impulse that has led countless party officials to renounce policies they supported as recently as 2008 and 2009 — and it doesn’t alienate any major domestic constituency. It provides a clear line of contrast for Romney, as well as attack. After all, even if the “Reset” achieved many of its objectives it has so far failed in its ultimate goal of weaning Moscow from its traditional realpolitik approach to its “near abroad” and otherwise dialing back its revisionist impulses toward aspects of the current world order. And, at the end of the day, it isn’t as if many older American don’t have a reflexive view of Russia as a rival.
It reflects the discomforting proposition that Romney suffers from financialsectoritis when it comes to foreign policy, i.e., the conflation of his own experiences in the business world with fundamental truths about the human condition… including geopolitics. You know the drill: some people who are (1) very good at working with economic assets and (2) spend most of their formative adult years working with economic assets (3) become convinced that everything comes down to economic assets. As Dan Drezner quoted from the New York Times: “Some advisers close to Mr. Romney, who declined to be quoted or identified by name, say Russia is a good illustration of his belief that national security threats are closely tied to economic power — in this case stemming from Russia’s oil and gas reserves, which it has used to muscle European countries dependent on energy imports.”
I don’t know if this is true,* but it raises a variety of questions/thoughts:
Does the UN have stock in ink? Kids today seem to like tattoos.
What is the curriculum include at UN Day Care?
Learning How to Circumvent Your Parents’ Vetoes?
Membership 101: You can join any club you want as long as your name is ok (Taiwan, Macedonia) even if you fall short of standards (Human Rights Commission).
The Golden Rule As Applied to Combat: Fire only if fired upon.
What is the UN Day Care hours and penalties for late pick up?
Do they have local franchises like Kindercare? Is Kindercare really the UN’s franchise?
What do they serve for lunch? Caviar and lobster (for those who ponder UN waste), Chinese every day (for those who fear the yellow peril’s insidious influence through an organization it does not really like), etc?
Do the kids get to ride on the black helicopters?
* I follow the code of the West a la The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance: When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.
The McCain opposition-research file circulating on the internet (if genuine) is just devastating in its picture of a man without any convictions whatsoever. It makes one thing crystal clear: Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee, and quite possibly our next President, because he faced a GOP field made up of incompetent, unserious, and underfunded rivals. A serious contender would have eviscerated him.
Many of the positions that should have made him toxic to the Republican base will be far less damaging the context of a general election. Still, the total insincerity of the man has to be a liability. While my structuralist instincts tell me that Romney has an extremely good shot at becoming President, my “campaigns matter” side whispers that, if up against a halfway competent Obama organization, this guy is toast.