Election 2012

Like It Or Not, the 2012 Election is a Referendum on Obama's Policy Agenda

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The Obama campaign has worked hard to brand this year's presidential contest as a choice between two different paths forward. Considering the overlap between the two technocrats at the top of the tickets, it's less of a choice than the Obama administration would have us believe. Yet there is a choice to be made, not about the future but about how history remembers what President Obama has already done. Despite some similarities between the candidates, the outcome of Tuesday's vote will be viewed by those with political power as a referendum on the last four years.

If President Obama wins reelection, it will be seen by many, especially those who have made their careers in politics, as a vindication of his ambitious domestic policy agenda: The 2009 stimulus, the health care overhaul, the Dodd-Frank financial legislation, and the persistently large federal budgets (and high deficits to support them) that have accompanied Obama first term will have a combined stamp of approval to which supporters can point, even if individual components remain unpopular or controversial.

By contrast, if GOP nominee Mitt Romney wins, it will inevitably serve as a warning to the political class: Don't try this again.

This understanding will be bolstered by the primary message of Romney's campaign, which has avoided policy specifics but insisted that whatever he would do, it won't be what Obama did. A Romney win will thus be taken as an overall thumbs down on the Obama years, his policies viewed through the lens of a loss and less popular as a result.

Political types will draw this less even if it's an extremely close election, as most forecasts suggest it will be. A loss is a loss, regardless of how close, and if Obama is not reelected, current and aspiring politicians will correctly judge that Obama's loss reflects poorly on the scope and specifics of his policy agenda. And they will think carefully before pursuing similar policies of their own.

The least popular parts of Obama's agenda will be judged the most politically dangerous. That means that large-scale health reforms like ObamaCare, which was unpopular before it passed and has remained unpopular since, will top the list of ideas that politicians who want to keep their jobs — which is most of them — will be highly cautious about trying again for many years. The same goes for giant-sized fiscal stimulus measures like the one President Obama passed shortly after taking office, which did not live up to expectations.

Big corporate bailouts like the one the Obama administration pursued with the auto industry will probably not fall out of favor quite as much; public opinion of the auto bailout has steadily improved over the years. But public-opinion minded politicians will still be more cautious about such efforts lest they be tagged as bailout friendly, a label President Obama has sought to avoid.

Regulatory measures like Dodd-Frank, which polls well, will likely suffer the least. But any similar effort will still be regarded with caution for being associated with a one-term presidency.

It's somewhat less clear what the effect would be on political class attitudes about debt and deficit levels. Polls suggest that when the public believes there is a binary choice between job creation or debt reduction, they prefer politicians who emphasize the former. But with high annual deficits now associated with both President Bush and President Obama, it may be that politicians look to the last president widely viewed as a success — Bill Clinton — and his relatively sound budgeting for inspiration.

If Obama loses, some of his defenders will likely argue that it was a poor economy and unreasonably expectations about what he could do to fix it that doomed his reelection bid. Given the real limits on a president's ability to improve a weak economy, there is more than a little truth to this. But that won't matter much. Politicians are herd animals, easily scared by the prospect of losing their jobs or political favor and the influence it gives them. Democrats won't engage in a wholesale rethinking of their preferred agenda if Obama loses, but they will probably scale back their domestic policy ambitions.

No matter what, the political establishment will take note and react accordingly. If Obama wins, it will be taken as proof that a policy agenda as ambitious as Obama's, even if the face of a struggling economy, need not prevent a second term, and can even enable one.

But if Obama loses, the next generation of ambitious pols will understandably and not altogether incorrectly judge that his choice and combination of policies, especially the expensive and frequently unpopular initiatives that defined his domestic agenda, played some role in his defeat. And so they will make a choice of their own: to avoid doing what Obama did, and hopefully avoid his fate at the polls. 

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  1. Here are the choices:

    ? SUCK
    ? NOT SUCK

    1. I need more information before making that choice.

      1. ? SUCK (vote for anyone other than the current president, Barack Obama)
        ? NOT SUCK (vote for Obama)

        1. In your list, though? voting for someone other than Romney gets counted in the “NOT SUCK” column.

          That’s a problem.

          1. See what there should be?

            ? THROW OBAMA OUT ON HIS ASS
            ? DO NOT THROW OBAMA OUT ON HIS ASS

            The only votes that count in the “THROW OBAMA OUT ON HIS ASS” column are votes for Romney.

            I wish it were otherwise. But we have to live in the world the way it really is.

            1. “I wish it were otherwise. But we have to live in the world the way it really is.”

              Where have I heard this before

              1. Only 4 days to go, time to get in line apparently.

                1. If I’m wrong, show me where.

                  If I were Obama’s campaign manager, I might use some of my war chest to run ads in Ohio championing Gary Johnson…

                  They’d say, “I’m Barack Obama, and if after everything I’ve done and said, we just don’t agree, and you can’t vote for me? Then please, vote for Gary Johnson.”

                  “I’m Barack Obama, and I approved this message”.

                  He’d be reaching undecided voters, and per the choices I outlined above, no votes for Gary Johnson will ever do anything to kick Obama out on his ass, anyway.

                  1. Well, I’ve already voted.

                    Look, I want Obama out, but I’m pretty confident Romney is nowhere near what we need. He might stick a finger in the dike, but the hole is too big.

                    We need fundamental changes in the way this country is governed. Things are only going to keep trending worse (with Romney’s way probably being the slower path to disaster) until Americans start voting for limited government and freer markets.

                    I hear this comment every election, and I’m still voting my conscience. And I will celebrate a little when Obama is out of office, even though it’s extremely unlikely my guy will be replacing him.

                    1. He might stick a finger in the dike, but the hole is too big.

                      AGAIN, THE GOP WAR ON TEH WIMMYNZ AND TEH GHEYZ!1!1!!!!!1!!!!!

                    2. I’ve already voted, too.

                      And when it came down to it? I hesitated. I started thinking–you know you’re not gonna like this guy…

                      But then I started thinking–this is your chance! You get one chance to stick it to the fothermucker that continues to overpay the UAW–and take the money out of your paycheck! And you’re gonna walk away from that?

                      Obama’s going around bragging about using my paychecks to bail out the UAW! He did it today! He’s going to Ohio, and he’s going around bragging about using MY hard earned money to keep UAW workers overpaid!

                      I can’t just lodge a protest vote over that. I need him to pay for that with his job. I got to use my tiny little vote to give Obama my big middle finger.

                      It was different when there wasn’t an incumbent. But there is now.

                    3. Ken, so I take it you will be voting for the Democrat in 4 years if Romney wins? Cause he’s going to do a ton of shit that’s gonna piss of libertarians. Some of which will be worse than paying off the UAW (which, despite your obsession with it, isn’t even near the top of my list of bad shit Obama’s done, though it was bad)

                    4. I have a hard time imagining voting for a democrat, but under the right circumstances, I could.

                      It depends on the Democrat. If it was someone worse than Obama, the answer is no. But I have a hard time imagining that the Democrats would put someone up there worse than Obama again.

                      Obama was an accident. He was the only Democrat of any consequence that opposed the Iraq War. That’s why he beat Hillary Clinton for the nomination. He was the only candidate who was against the Iraq War, when swing voters were sick to death of the Iraq War.

                      So, it isn’t about being a Democrat. It’s about being awful. If Romney is especially awful, I’ll vote for a Democrat, so long as the Democrat isn’t just as awful, too. And as I’ve written elsewhere in this thread, Romney may not be very good–but he isn’t awful like Obama is.

                  2. Ken that logic would make sense if you think Romney is entitled to the votes of Johnson supporters. He isn’t. Even if Johnson wasn’t on the ballot, I wouldn’t vote. Romney does not deserve my vote

              2. Ron Paul?

    2. There’s never a swallow option…

  2. If Obama wins by a single electoral vote while losing a majority of the popular vote, it will be interpreted as a complete vindication of everything he ever did. It will tell all future politicians “go full retard or don’t go at all”.

    1. It will tell all future politicians “go full retard or don’t go at all”

      Wait, are you saying they haven’t been doing that now?

      In the name and spirit of adventure, I say we see how far we can get humanity to push the retard envelope.

      1. They have been mildly restrained. But the 08 to 10 Congress set the bar at a new high.

    2. I agree. As I said in the AM links thread, I think Obummer will win by a slim margin. This will be a vindication for his policies. By 2016, the US economy will be significantly improved, and he will get credit for the “recover”. History will remember him fondly, even if reality scorns his administration.

      1. By 2016, the US economy will be significantly improved, and he will get credit for the “recover”.

        It won’t improve if he wins. The loons he will put in at EPA and HHS will see that that doesn’t happen.

      2. And I don’t think there is any way he wins the popular vote.

        1. John the polls are pretty close right now. Even Rasmussen has it at a dead heat. Now perhaps all the polls are off. It’s possible. But if there any indication, this election could go either way

      3. even if reality scorns his administration

        “He was in a tough position!”
        “He did what had to be done to get us back on his feet!”
        “Successful people aren’t always popular!”
        “Somebody had to make the tough choices that got us moving again!”

        1. Erm, “He did what had to be done to get us back on his our feet!”

      4. By 2016, the US economy will be significantly improved

        BUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

        1. Yeah, I wish we could have a real recovery despite the government’s unwillingness to take its fangs out of our economy’s neck, but I think it may be past that point now, especially with the problems globally.

          We need change. More than we’re likely going to get.

          1. “They stab it with their steely knives but they just can’t kill the beast.”

            I think the US economy has a few more gasps in it before it falls on its side, breathing blood, eyes rolling while the scavengers tug on the entrails.

            1. I do, too, but the government seems hell-bent on killing it fast. Socialized medicine. Department of Business. WTF?

        2. They’ll tweak and knitpick numbers to claim it is improved, and the people will buy it. If it works now, it will work four years from now.

  3. Dear Mister President:

    You suck. GTFO.

    Do not pass GO, do not collect $200.

    1. I will pledge to personally send him $200 if, in the unlikely event he wins the election, he will immediately resign. $300 if he takes Biden with him.

      1. This actually brings up an interesting concept on electoral politics. Would you consider it selling out if you voted your conscience but donated to the major party candidate of preference? Or vice verse? And which, if either, would you consider?

        1. No.

          but i would probably just give my money to superpac that criticizes the one in power on issues that believe in.

          Also i do not think of my Johnson vote as strictly a vote of conscience.

          Romney has not given me enough and is only inches away from what Obama has taken.

          Also A vote for Johnson is strategic. Perot moved Clinton and the republicans to balance the budget and Nader moved Obama and arguably Bush to the left.

          I do not understand the vice verse. If you are willing to vote for someone why the fuck would giving money be worse?

      2. Is “resign” now code for something? Because I don’t see any other way he can “resign” Biden.

        1. No, I mean quit. Joe’s pretty dumb. I figure Obama could just tell him they both have to go.

          1. Oh. I was sort of hoping it was code.

  4. Landslides bring mandates. One of these assholes is going to squeak by the other. The gridlock will not be as nice as you people think, though. As Congress fights amongst itself and with whomever’s White House, regulators will continue unmolested by such political pugilism.

    1. I don’t think gridlock can save us anymore. The status quo is unsustainable.

    2. I don’t think there is any way Obama is going to win the popular vote. If he somehow manages to win, it will be because he cheated his way to win in Ohio.

      Obama has no agenda. He had no justification for a second term. He has the Bengazi scandal rolling down the pike, which could further cripple his Presidency. The Dems have no chance at retaking the house and will have a smaller majority in the Senate if they manage to keep it at all.

      He is not interested in being President right now. How many games of golf will he be playing a year from now when unemployment is back to 10%, the Iranians have nukes and the House is bringing in impeachment charges against him?

      1. Thanks to redistricting, the Dems are hoping to pick up a number of House seats from California.

        1. No they won’t.

      2. John you are literally beginning to sound just as bad as Tony. I’m pretty sure Tony has said that exact same thing, except about Romney, in that he can only win he cheats his way to victory. Romney hasn’t been up in a single poll in Ohio. The popular vote polls are dead even. It’s a tossup. Maybe they’re all wrong. But to say there’s no possible way he could win?

        1. Not the popular vote. Read the WAPO today. 13% of likely voters who voted for Obama in 08 plan to vote for Romney this year. Do the math on that and get back to me.

          1. John, the problem is you can pick and choose what you which polls and sources to listen to. If a poll shows Romney up 5, then it means he has it in the bag. If it shows Obama up 5, then Romney’s got it in the bag. Switching 13% of Obama’s vote in 2008 would have meant about a 52-47 win for McCain. But we don’t have the same electorate. Old people have died and young people have turned 18. The country is slightly less white. All of those things help Democrats. Plus there are probably a small number of people who voted for McCain, who will, for whatever reason, vote for Obama. And of course, this poll could put that 13% number a bit too high. I’m not saying Romney isn’t going to win the popular vote, just that it’s still up in the air, and cherrypicked polls don’t change that.

            1. *That should say, “If it shows Obama up 5, then it’s an outlier”

      3. If he somehow manages to win, it will be because he cheated his way to win in Ohio.

        Obama has been consistently ahead in the polls in Ohio, so wtf are you talking about?

    3. Your harsh truth makes me sad, so I blame you because it’s easier.

  5. Tough day Pete? The alt-text is … how you say … kinda lame.

    1. Remember the tooth! The tooth!

    2. Here, this might be appropriate for the top pic:

      “I felt a great disturbance in the polls, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.”

  6. Fucking Christ Sudderman!!!

    Do not write Tulpa’s argument for him.

      1. If this is true then why did Obama keep us at war and start a few more after he beat the Bush candidate?

        Recent history does not support the thesis.

        1. What does that have to do with re-election vindicating your actions to future politicians?

          1. The thesis is if policies are punished at the polls then those policies will not be pursued by future candidates.

            Obama pursued the policies of Bush.

            Just like Romney will pursue the polices of Obama after he wins.

            I guess that oil pipe to Canada and commercials during Sesame Street will be cool…still not enough for me to vote for Romney…nor should it be enough for you.

            1. Those policies are not exactly unprecedented in DC. Suderman is focusing on the dramatic domestic policies enacted in the midst of a recession.

              1. Auto bail out – Supported by Romney
                Stimulas – Supported by Romney
                Obamacare – invented by Romney
                TARP – Supported by Romney

                They are dramatic…and Romney will support them just as Obama has supported the Bushwars.

                1. This feeling of being entirely screwed–does anyone else have it, too? How is New Zealand?

                  1. I am optimistic that the coming economic collapse that Obamny/Robama will bring might finally break dependance on government.

                    Also i am confidant our current technology will put any real casualties at zero.

                    We really do not need government outside of a few cops. If you really believe that then you have nothing to fear over a financial collapse.

                    The likely scenario is a few days of panic then everyone will pick themselves up dust themselves off look around and then wonder what the fuck was that all about anyway….then go about living their lives without a massive central authority telling them how to run it.

                    1. I wish I was as optimistic as you. Collapses pretty much never lead to freedom and liberty, and often lead to tyranny

          2. I agree with John.

            First, it is important to understand that politicians are generally not intelligent. They are cunning – yes – but rarely intelligent. So, they often don’t understand what they are saying and jump to incorrect conclusions.

            Secondly, elections are rare, binary things. You win or lose. Why? Every action or inaction changes a few minds to yes or no, but it’s hard to tell which combination of actions or inactions will turn a future lose to a win.

            In the end, hoping for a politician to do the right thing is the wishful thinking of a parent hoping that their child will resist the temptations of crack once he gets out of jail and moves back into the a small single bedroom apartment in a slum. It does happen occasionally. However in the absence of hitting rock bottom (for example going to jail) the instances of addicts changing their behavior is even rarer.

            A politician who gets voted out of office is like the crack addict who got thrown in jail. he may be scared straight.

            A politician who gets reelected is the crack addict who found $10,000 his grandma had hidden in her closet. He is far less likely to give up his addiction.

    1. Please….

      The problem with Tulpa isn’t his logic (or lack thereof). It’s his annoying contortions to avoid ‘losing’ an argument regardless of how untenable his position gets, including goal-post moving, pompous attempts at Socratic questioning and peevish hectoring of people who fail to agree with him.

      The arguments to vote for Romney or Obama or Johnson or Big Bird are what they are. They are completely independent of the nuisance that is Tulpatic argumentation.

      And the cure is quite simple. It’s nto to avoid saying certain things because Tulpa will take them up as his new thing to say.

      Rather, it’s to do what I have done. I filtered him out with Reasonable ages ago, and from the exasperated responses I see people making to him, I’m confident that I’m not missing much in the way of substantive, meaningful or thought-provoking content.

      1. I filtered him out with Reasonable ages ago

        You shouldn’t, but maybe you come here for different reasons then i do.

        I think Romney is going to win. The comedy gold Tulpa has accrued with his remarks during this election cycle will be priceless over these next 4 years.

        1. I come here to socialize and to occasionally have interesting discussions.

          Reading Tulpa’s comments serve neither goal.

          1. Tulpa’s better than he used to be.

  7. But if Obama loses, the next generation of ambitious pols will understandably and not altogether incorrectly judge that his choice and combination of policies, especially the expensive and frequently unpopular initiatives that defined his domestic agenda, played some role in his defeat. And so they will make a choice of their own: to avoid doing what Obama did

    As obvious as this may seem to us, I confess to serious doubts as to whether any politician currently grooming him(her)self for a run at the White House will learn anything at all from it.

  8. “The 2009 stimulus, the health care overhaul, the Dodd-Frank financial legislation, and the persistently large federal budgets (and high deficits to support them) that have accompanied Obama first term will have a combined stamp of approval to which supporters can point, even if individual components remain unpopular or controversial.

    You left out the nationalization of General Motors.

    But, yeah, there are like five out there who are voting for Mitt Romney.

    More than half the country will vote against Barack Obama.

    It’s a referendum on Obama. That’s all it is. And for a second term election, this is exactly as it should be.

    1. 2nd term elections always have something of that flavor, but this one, as I’ve been saying for a year, has it to an extreme degree. Obama’s a very polarizing prez, and people are voting either for or against him, regardless of who the Republican nominee was. Those voting against him just want someone who can beat him, and that’s the GOP nominee, whoever it is. And practically all the voters made up their minds a long time ago; the past 9 months of campaigning will have moved the final result by maybe 1%. To the extent people have still been making up their minds, it was all about Obama’s performance (including his debate performance), not who he was running vs.

      1. Maybe more than one percent. I think it moved more than that after the first debate.

        If Romney wins, people will attribute it to the first debate. He was trailing miserably before then.

  9. Given the real limits on a president’s ability to improve a weak economy

    Bullshit.

    Every recession since the depression has “plucked” back. We have not had a recovery because of what the president and his policies and spending have done to keep it from coming back.

    How hard is it to read the countless economic papers on the subject?

    1. The host can only take so much damage from the parasite before it sickens and dies. It’s a foolish parasite that kills its only host.

    2. “We have not had a recovery because of what the president and his policies and spending have done to keep it from coming back.”

      Heaping regulations on the banking industry and making it harder for them to make loans–at a time when the economy was starving for lack of credit?

      That was profoundly stupid.

      Barack Obama is completely incompetent.

      1. Actually i am referring to the 100 plus percent gdp to debt ratio.

        Without that loss growth due to overspending the economy would be doing spectacularly.

        It is and was completely within Obama’s power to cut spending. Therefore Suderman is wrong in this case. Obama could have improved the weak economy.

        note: yes regulations have hurt it as well.

        1. Perhaps taxpayers should foreclose on the United States.

          1. No need. Recession big and small happen every 7 years or so.

            We are due for a new one in about 2 years….and we never got a recovery.

            I don’t think even here people realize how fucked we are…nor how important it is to have a viable alternative to the Robama/Obamney narrative when the shit hits the fan.

            Which is why every vote for Johnson counts.

  10. If you don’t want another four years of Obama, then vote for Romney.

    If you want to see another four years of Obama, then go ahead and vote for Johnson.

    Those are the choices for libertarians.

    I don’t make the rules. I’m just pointing them out.

    1. Oh boy, now you’re at it too?

      1. I’ve been at this for a while now.

        Sorry, but there’s only one way to get rid of Obama, and it happens this Tuesday.

        I think getting rid of Obama is more important than making a statement–because I think Obama is especially horrible from a capitalist/libertarian perspective.

        Romney isn’t capitalist/libertarian savior either, but he isn’t completely hostile to capitalism–not the way Obama is.

        Before libertarians make any progress on public policy, we have to make it so Obama’s signature isn’t required on every piece of legislation. Until we get rid of Obama, there will be no progress on making public policy more capitalist.

        With Romney there could be.

        I’ll turn on Romney like an abused pit bull the day he steps into the White House, but until we get rid of Obama, it doesn’t matter what libertarians do or say. Our voices may influence public opinion–and that’s important! But our voices will never influence public policy and make it more capitalist, not so long as Obama is in the White House.

        1. Ken, your individual vote for Romney doesn’t do any more to kick out Obama than my vote for Johnson does. They both are a +1 toward an opponent of Obama. The fact that more idiots will be joining you doesn’t change that. People don’t vote as groups. They vote as individuals

          1. Yeah, that’s true.

            What we say to each other is more important than how we vote.

            But an awful lot of people have talked to me about who I’m voting for and why.

            And I got a lot of people to vote libertarian last time around–who had never voted libertarian before.

            I’ve had bunches of those same people tell me they were voting for Johnson this time. And if you’re using your vote for Johnson as a vehicle for discussion with people to talk to them about libertarianism? Then I would encourage you to continue that.

            If you’re using your vote for Johnson because you want to see that socialist incompetent Barack Obama thrown out on his ass? Then you’re barking up the wrong tree if you’re voting for Gary Johnson.

            1. Why can’t it be both? Regardless of who I’m voting for, it’s not like my vote would ever come close to being the deciding vote to throw anyone out. Especially since I live in California.

              1. “Regardless of who I’m voting for, it’s not like my vote would ever come close to being the deciding vote to throw anyone out. Especially since I live in California.”

                Because what you say is more important than how you vote.

                It’s you and the people you influence.

                That’s how Christianity took over the Roman Empire. We talk to other people about what we think and why, and we persuade them. How we vote is an important reflection of what we think…

                Libertarianism–like true Christianity–cannot be inflicted on people from above for long. It has to come from the bottom up. A libertarian president is the last thing we’ll get–after you and others like you have convinced enough of your friends and family to see things from a more libertarian perspective. To whatever extent your vote becomes a focal point of discussion, it is important.

                So, yeah, let’s all work on making more independents like us. In the meantime, if enough independents like us break for Romney with our votes? We can throw this proud socialist Obama scumbag out on his ass.

                1. I should add that voting for Johnson in a state like California makes more sense than it does in states where Romney has more of a chance.

                2. I actually agree with your first part. Which is why I expressed my voice by voting for Gary Johnson, my candidate of choice.

            2. But being in California, I still fail to see the logic in the vote. Were I in Ohio, I might actually contemplate holding my nose, voting for Romney, and showering for a solid week afterwards. But California’s electoral votes are so known that it is futile. Unless you actually buy into the pop vote mandate bullshit.

              1. Voting for Johnson makes more sense in California than it does elsewhere…

                But if you live in Ohio, and you have a chance to throw an American emperor out on his ass?

                That is an opportunity that should not be wasted.

        2. Also, I don’t see how you can say Obama is completely hostile to capitalism, and Romney isn’t, unless you have an extremely arbitrary definition of “completely hostile.” All of their disagreements are at the margin of public policy. They both support the Fed. They both support corporate welfare and bailouts. They both support the modern regulatory state. They both support Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and all the other welfare programs. They both support a trade war with China. Obama may be more supportive of these things, but I don’t see why this line should be drawn between them. There’s way more space between free market capitalism and Romney than there is between Romney and Obama

          1. “They both support the Fed. They both support corporate welfare and bailouts. They both support the modern regulatory state. They both support Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and all the other welfare programs. They both support a trade war with China.”

            Just because neither of them are libertarians doesn’t mean they’re the same.

            Obama used TARP money to nationalize General Motors. Now he’s going around bragging about it.

            Mitt Romney opposed the nationalization of General Motors, and he went on television to criticize it.

            How can nationalizing GM be the same thing as opposing the nationalization of GM?

            There are myriad issues like that.

            Obama refused to let Wall Street pay TARP back until he got his regulatory bills through–he used TARP as pretext to reshape Wall Street–the engine of creative destruction–in his own Progressive image.

            Not only would Romney NOT have tied Wall Street’s hands behind its back, Romney was once the guy at Bain! A president who once engaged in creative destruction himself–am I dreaming?

            How could someone as incompetent as Obama, who sees creative destruction as a problem to be thwarted by government, be the same as someone like Romney, who used to engage in creative destruction himself–for profit and fun?

            They’re the same in that they’re not libertarians, but they’re not the same.

            1. Did I say they were the same Ken? Reread my post. I’m pretty sure I didn’t. I said, how can one be “completely hostile” to capitalism, while the other isn’t? That doesn’t mean I’m saying they’re exactly the same. I’m saying that you’re drawing an extremely arbitrary line to make that distinction. Why is supporting the auto bailouts the determining line for “complete hostility” to capitalism, and not TARP (which was far worse)? Not to mention, Romney didn’t exactly take a laissez-faire view of the auto crisis.

              Romney’s career in business doesn’t mean he’s going to support free market policies. Also, pro-business is NOT the same thing as pro-market. Romney, being the “pro-(big) business” guy he is, supports things like corporate welfare, bailouts, the Fed, and regulations that limit competition for big firms. I don’t want another president who’s pro-Wall Street, just one who realizes the solution is a free-market, instead of continuing the current cartel we have.

              1. “Did I say they were the same Ken?”

                You listed a number of ways in which they were the same.

                I pointed out that they’re still different despite that list.

                “I’m saying that you’re drawing an extremely arbitrary line to make that distinction.”

                There’s nothing arbitrary about it. The differences are wherever we find them.

                “Romney’s career in business doesn’t mean he’s going to support free market policies.”

                And if you look at everything I’ve said above, I don’t think Romney is going to make a great president. But I think he could head and shoulders better than Obama–and still be an awful president.

                For the thousandth time, the best reason to vote for Romney isn’t becasue of Romney. It’s becasue voting for Romney can get rid of Obama. Sorry if me pointing out that there were differences between Obama and Romney made it seem like I said something good about Romney!

                Perish the thought if that what you want!

                …point is that voting for Romney gets rid of Obama, and considering how bad Obama is, that’s really counts in Romney’s favor.

                1. “You listed a number of ways in which they were the same.

                  I pointed out that they’re still different despite that list.”

                  Did I say or imply that that meant they were exactly the same overall? In fact, I explicitly mentioned their differences, and explained that while they exist, they’re only marginal in the big picture.

                  “There’s nothing arbitrary about it. The differences are wherever we find them.”

                  Huh? This response is nonsensical. I’m talking about you drawing a line titled “complete hostility to capitalism” that conveniently goes right between Obama and Romney. That is really arbitrary.

                  Voting for Romney doesn’t get rid of Obama. I only control my vote Ken. And my vote can’t get Obama out of office (Now of course, you’ll argue “Yes, but if enough people joined you, then it would” but apparently that logic doesn’t apply to voting for Gary Johnson)

            2. Not only would Romney NOT have tied Wall Street’s hands behind its back

              I think the confusion here is that you think Wall street does anything aside from shuffling the cards around….and that is only when it is not outright stealing.

              Look financial markets are good but they are not the cake…they are only the frosting. I think you have fallin into the Shrike trap of thinking that wall street is the economy, rather then an imperfect proxy for it.

              Furthermore with how the FED has been dumping huge resources into Wallstreet to prop it up and push out competetors if anything a bound Wall Street would be good for the economy.

              1. “I think the confusion here is that you think Wall street does anything aside from shuffling the cards around….and that is only when it is not outright stealing.”

                Leveraged buyouts. Mergers and Acquisitions. Taking companies private, subjecting them to harsh financial discipline. Closing factories, etc.?

                This is the stuff that creative destruction is made of. This is the sort of activity that Wall Street engaged in a whole more back before Obama completely remade Wall Street in his image.

                This is exactly the kind of activity that our economy needs. Goldman Sachs used to be referred to as the flagship of American capitalism, and back when they were remaking the rust belt into the new economy that it became? That’s what it was.

                We need that back again. Things won’t get back to the way they should be until we find our way back there again.

                1. Fuck Wall Street. I won’t deny that banks and financial services companies do things that help the economy and people. My dad was a community bank executive for decades. At the same time, the big banks have also done a lot of damage to the economy. Now, unlike OWS, I’m not stupid enough to think that the free market is the problem or that regulation is the answer. But on the balance, there’s a ton of goodies Wall Street gets that they shouldn’t, compared to any “hamstringing”

                  1. “But on the balance, there’s a ton of goodies Wall Street gets that they shouldn’t, compared to any “hamstringing”

                    I’m not sure Wall Street is to blame for what George W. Bush and Barack Obama did.

                    In terms of hurting the economy, I think they were victims of the economic cycle as much as anything. They’re more cyclical than most industries. Why blame them for taking risks. We need them to take more risks.

                    And we need to stop the government from bailing them out. But I don’t blame Wall Street for accepting bailouts. I blame our politicians for giving them our money. Wall Street’s responsibility isn’t to protect taxpayers. Congress’ responsibility IS to protect taxpayers–and they’re the ones who dropped the ball.

                    Downturns in the economic cycle will happen again no matter what Wall Street does. And any attempt to blame Wall Street for downturns in the economic cycle completely misses the point. Furthermore, if the question of how quickly we get out of downturns is a function of how quickly we unwind our misinvestment, then having Wall Street nimble and unregulated during downturns is absolutely crucial to getting out of downturns as quickly as possible.

                    1. Listening to Romney, I think he understands that. He’s liquidated a misinvestment or two personally! I don’t think Obama understands the first thing about that. He dialed up on the regulation ridiculously–just when we needed the investment banks at their most nimble. He’s a stupid man, and the longer he’s in the White House, the worse it will be for our economy.

                      I shudder to think what Obama will do once he no longer has to worry about getting reelected.

                    2. “Listening to Romney, I think he understands that.”

                      There’s your problem right there. After evaluating the man’s career, you still trust a single word the guy says? Liquidating an investment in the private sector does not mean you’ll apply the same logic when you have the taxing power of the USG and the Fed’s printing presses behind you. Romney might not have regulated as much as Obama, but regulations will increase under him, just as they have for all recent presidents. And if you’re gonna bring up his rhetoric, did you not here him gushing over regulation at that one debate?

                    3. “I’m not sure Wall Street is to blame for what George W. Bush and Barack Obama did.”

                      Wall Street benefits from a cartelized inflationary monetary system known as the Federal Reserve. They benefit from a regulatory structure that crushes potential competition from smaller businesses. In the housing bubble, they benefited from government agencies that took away the risks of making bad loans. They benefited from getting bailed out when they failed. It isn’t free market capitalism when there’s no risk of failure. I would agree that ultimately the politicians are to blame. But that wasn’t the issue. You were trying to make me feel sorry for how hard Wall Street has it. They benefit a lot more from government than most industries.

    2. I live in CA. There’s no way in hell might vote makes a difference in Romney v. Obama. The state is in can for Obummer. I voted GJ to tell the Republican party, albeit in an inaudibly small voice, that their platform blows on many levels.

      1. I need to read my post before hitting submit. Here it is in English:

        I live in CA. There’s no way in Hell my vote will make a difference in Romney v. Obama. The state is in the can for Obummer. I voted GJ to tell the Republican party, albeit in an inaudibly small voice, that their platform blows on many levels.

        1. I did the same thing for the exact same reason. That makes two inaudibly small voices in a sea of California tards.

          1. *Three

            1. Me four.

    3. If you want to see another four years of Obama, then go ahead and vote for Johnson.

      A vote for any candidate who is not Obama is a vote against Obama.

      A vote for any candidate who is not Romney is a vote against Romney.

      Therefor, I will vote against both Obama and Romney by voting for Johnson.

      Now, explain to me how me voting against Obama helps him get re-elected.

      1. “Now, explain to me how me voting against Obama helps him get re-elected.”

        Six words: Single Member Districts, Winner Take All.

        ? THROW OBAMA OUT ON HIS ASS

        ? DO NOT THROW OBAMA OUT ON HIS ASS

        The only votes that count in the “THROW OBAMA OUT ON HIS ASS” column are votes for Romney.

        I wish it were otherwise.

        1. 1) Define the parameters of debate so that your argument is by definition correct
          2) ???
          3) Profit!

          Ken Shultz logic at work

        2. And btw, him not voting for Romney helps Obama just as much as him not voting for Obama helps Romney

          1. Are you in any danger of voting for Obama?

            1. Well I already voted. But I was never in danger of voting for Obama. I was also never in any danger of voting for Romney. That’s your fallacy. Romney doesn’t own libertarians’ votes

              1. I don’t know of any libertarians who are thinking about voting for Obama.

                I’m having a hard time imagining a libertarian argument for voting for Obama in this election.

                1. In Internet conversations, I’ve talked to a few. Their argument is either 1) Obama will hasten the collapse, which I want to happen 2) If Obama wins, we have a shot at electing a good president in 2016. If Romney wins, we at least have to wait until 2020 3) Obama is less likely to start a war with Iran. I would agree that all three arguments aren’t sufficient, just as none of the arguments for voting for Romney are. But it’s really irrelevant. While some libertarians may be willing to vote or consider voting for Romney, I never considered it. So Johnson didn’t steal my vote in any way. I didn’t help Obama in any manner. For a libertarian, you sure do enjoy using collectivist logic when it comes to voting

  11. What a bunch of horseshit. No one questioned that Obama’s election was an overwhelming repudiation of W. His whole campaign was about how horrible W was. And the moment his ass hit the thrown he stared governing exactly the same way. Repudiation of the guy in power is fucking meaningless. The major parties are both on Team Establishment. Vote LP or don’t vote at all. Anything else makes you part of the fucking problem

    1. +1000000000

      Thank you Warren…no idea why this is not obvious to everyone.

    2. It might have been different if Kerry had beaten Bush.

      That’s the scenario you should be comparing this, to…

      Would it have been better if Kerry had beaten Bush?

      I think so.

      Comparing that to Obama beating McCain is a non-comparison. It’s different when there’s no incumbent. Bush wasn’t thrown out by Obama.

      If we throw Emperor Obama out on his ass, how can that be meaningless?

      1. Because we’re replacing Emperor Obamney with Emperor Robama?

        1. Yeah, I think one is worse than the other.

          Just because they’re both not libertarian doesn’t mean they’re the same.

          And I promise I, along with all other thinking libertarians everywhere, will oppose Romney from them moment his butt hits the Oval Office chair.

          It’s always appropriate for a libertarian to be in opposition to the emperor–whomever he is.

          1. … And then you’ll vote for him again in four years

            1. Probably not.

              1. You also said just a couple months ago that you wouldn’t vote for anyone for emperor, not even a libertarian. We know how that turned out

          2. Oh and is Obamney or Robama worse? You said one was worse, but didn’t say which

      2. It might have been different if Kerry had beaten Bush.

        Obama was a far more anit-war candidate then Kerry ever was.

        1. Yeah, but Bush was running for a second term.

          That’s the difference. If Kerry had won, he would have unseated a sitting president.

          Obama never ran against Bush. Obama didn’t unseat a sitting president. There wasn’t an incumbent.

          1. Yeah, but Bush was running for a second term.

            Very thin gruel.

            Bush Sr and Carter.

            Clinton did not drastically change policy away from Bush Sr.

            Reagen did not drastically change policy away from Carter.

            Your claims about a first term loss is without merit.

            Obama never ran against Bush.

            Give me a fucking break

            Obama did frame McCain as Bush’s successor and Obama did run against Bush’s record. Hell all the way up until a month ago he was still running against Bush’s record.

            1. Point: Voting for the LP candidate when there’s no incumbent is not like voting for the LP candidate when there is an incumbent.

              Restatement: Voting for a Libertarian candidate when there is no incumbent emperor is not the same as throwing an incumbent emperor out of office.

              I’m not sure I can simplify the point any further.

              Voting for Romney is voting to throw an incumbent emperor out of office. Voting for Johnson will not throw an incumbent emperor out of office. Voting for Johnson is voting to make a statement.

              Not sure it can be simplified any further than that.

              1. Ken, your logic would maybe make sense if people voted as blocs. While certain groups (whether they be political, ideological, ethnic, racial, religious, geographic, etc) are more likely to vote one way or another, votes are still cast on an individual basis. An individual vote is a vote supporting that candidate for president. Nothing more, nothing less. Pretending it matters more because of how other people vote is nonsense.

                And btw, who cares whether a candidates an shitty incumbent or a shitty nonincumbent? Throwing out bums doesn’t help if you replace them with other bums. Which is what you want to do

                1. “Throwing out bums doesn’t help if you replace them with other bums. Which is what you want to do”

                  You seem to be operating under the delusion that Johnson might win? Or that there might be no president?

                  That isn’t one of the options.

                  We two alternatives.

                  One of them is better than the other.

                  1. “You seem to be operating under the delusion that Johnson might win? Or that there might be no president?

                    You seem to be operating under the delusion that your vote is going to somehow alter the outcome of the election

                    “One of them is better than the other.”

                    In discussions with you and Tulpa, I’ve countered this argument on multiple occasions as to why this might not be true in reality, and every time I fail to get a response, but I’ll post it again. Romney, rhetorically, is better on economic issues, though still awful and not worthy of my vote. However, in practice, there are areas where he could be worse than Obama, even in the economic sphere. For example, Romney wants to drastically increase military spending. That alone is bad enough. But then when you consider the likelihood that Romney will compromise whatever “cuts” he wanted to make to domestic programs in order to get Democrats to support his military budget. Also consider that congressional Republicans have a history of fighting to limit spending a lot harder when a Democrat is in the White House. Add all this up, and it’s not improbable that Romney would spend more than Obama would. Romney also seems to think Obama hasn’t been tough enough in his trade war on China. On taxes, Romney’s been really vague, though it’s possible his plan will include raising taxes on middle and lower class people. Also, tax cuts are good, but without offsetting spending cuts, much of their economic benefit is wiped away.

                    1. And then on civil liberties and foreign policy, while both are awful, Romney is more likely to start a war with Iran, and would likely prosecute the war in a more vigorous manner than Obama would. In addition to the human costs, a war would also have severe economic and fiscal consequences. Romney would probably expand some of Obama’s programs, like the drones, etc, just like Obama expanded Bush’s programs (which Romney would continue as well).

                      I’m not saying Obama is better than Romney. Just that the difference is not as clear as people like Tulpa and you make it out to be, and in any case, it’s not enough for me to vote for someone who I know would be a terrible president

                2. “And btw, who cares whether a candidates an shitty incumbent or a shitty nonincumbent?”

                  It was a direct response to Warren’s failed analogy.

                  “Repudiation of the guy in power is fucking meaningless.”

                  I’m not sure repudiation of a guy in power is meaningless–I think there’s some communicative power to voting for Johnson in this election.

                  But even if repudiation of a guy like Obama in power is meaningless–actually throwing Obama out of power is not meaningless.

                  How can actually throwing a president out of power because of his record be meaningless?

                  Indeed, voting for a protest candidate when there’s no incumbent is NOT like voting for a protest candidate when there is an incumbent.

                  1. “It was a direct response to Warren’s failed analogy.”

                    It’s only a failed analogy if you think incumbency is important. It isn’t.

                    “How can actually throwing a president out of power because of his record be meaningless?”

                    Because your replacing a big-spending, big government, Fed-supporting, civil-liberties destroying warmongerer, with another big-spending, big-government, Fed-supporting, civil-liberties destroying warmongerer?

                    I’m not voting for a protest candidate. I’m voting for who I think would be the best president, realizing that my vote isn’t going to mean more or change anything regardless of who I vote for, so if I am going to spend my time voting, I should vote for the guy who I want to be president. It isn’t my fault if there are too many people like you voting for Obamney

    3. There ya go. You vote for Romney just to get rid of Obama if you think nobody could possibly be any worse than Obama.

      But if you think things can’t possibly get any worse, you need to lay off the drugs. Or start.

      1. “You vote for Romney just to get rid of Obama if you think nobody could possibly be any worse than Obama.”

        Logic fail.

        You vote for Romney if you think Romney is going to be better than Obama.

        If Romney wins, the president won’t be “nobody” or anybody. It will be Romney.

        There are reasons to think Romney is superior to Obama. Just because Romney and Obama are both not libertarians does not mean they are just as bad as each other. One of them is demonstrably worse on economic issues.

  12. I’d like to visit the alternate universe in which Romney wins out of morbid curiosity. My money is on him resigning after a week, since he would have achieved his personal ambition but has no apparent interest in governing or having any principles of governing. A Democratic senate would work with him more on basic stuff than the Tea Party House has with Obama, and the latter will behave the same way no matter what happens–“pass our retarded ideological wishlist to the letter or we’ll blow the fucking country up we swear to god.”

    But to the article’s point: I’m not sure there’s much of a grand vision of governance for there to be a referendum on. It’s basically technocratic competence and the 20th century social welfare state consensus vs. fact-averse ideological anarchist Norquistian bullshit. On foreign policy it’s, again, technocratic competence vs. radical neocon fact-averse warmongering bullshit.

    1. Romney is an ideological anarchist Norquistian? Good god, the Team Blue propaganda sure has worked on you. It’s posts like this that make me wonder whether you’re not a sockpuppet. And btw, I haven’t seen much technocratic competence from either party in a long time, if ever

      1. Romney is whatever he thinks he needs to be.

        1. Do you think he thinks he needs to be a “Norquistian anarchist” in order to get reelected (if he were elected on Tuesday)?

          1. Yes. Or they will primary him.

            1. Hahahaha I love how Tony simultaneously argues that Republicans are blind followers, and that they’ll primary a sitting president. Short of vetoing a repeal of Obamacare (which is unlikely to pass, especially if the Dems keep the Senate), there’s nothing that would result in a serious primary challenge. Let alone failing to live up to “Norquistian anarchy.” And I say this as someone that would love to see Rand Paul unseat him in 2016 if he wins. But I know it wouldn’t happen

    2. T o n y| 11.2.12 @ 5:40PM |#

      I’d like to visit the alternate universe in which Romney wins out of morbid curiosity.

      Really the best argument for voting for Romney I have seen in the comments here.

      Vote against what Tony wants.

      Tony is the the same guy who yesterday wrote that he “believes birth control should be mandatory”.

      1. “Tony is the the same guy who yesterday wrote that he “believes birth control should be mandatory”.”

        But remember Corning,he only supports slightly more government power than we do

        1. I wonder what the punishment for not taking the pill Tony would impose on 13 year old girls.

          1. Sterilization? Wouldn’t be unprecedented in this country’s history. And we know how much liberals love Oliver Wendell Holmes

            1. I wonder how married women wanting to have children will get by the mandate.

              Apply for a waiver?

              “Please please Mr government can i please stop taking the pill so i can have a child?”

              1. Yep. And we’ll have Top.Men (or rather Top.People. Can’t reinforce the Patriarchy, especially on this issue) to decide who is worthy of having children

      2. That was a joke. I really do hate children and think spawning them is the most selfish act imaginable, but mandatory birth control only when we have an immediate crisis. We can start with the slightest passing interest in environmental conservation.

        1. “I really do hate children and think spawning them is the most selfish act imaginable”

          This has got to be the stupidest thing you’ve ever said. I mean seriously, think through the implications of that statement.

          Btw, is it just me, or is Tony gotten more and more ridiculous lately? I know he’s been here for years, and I’ve only been here a few months (lurked for a while before that) and it seems that he was more reasonable when I first starting reading and posting here

          1. Tony’s a sockpuppet of at least one of the editors (probably Mr McArdle).

            He has to keep getting more outrageous to keep the concern trolling rolling.

          2. Just think about it.

            Having children is the most selfish thing people do. Prove me wrong.

            1. Alright is this real life? You’re legit trolling now. This is John-esque. “I’ve made a claim and I don’t have to prove it right, you have to prove it wrong or else I’m right!”

      1. I’d like to thing that’s the highest level, but unfortunately I know better.

    3. Re: Tony,

      It’s basically technocratic competence and the 20th century social welfare state consensus vs. fact-averse ideological anarchist Norquistian bullshit.

      What is definitively fact-averse is your notion that Grover Norquist is some sort of anarchist.

      The other thing that is so woefully fact-averse that makes one think you’re inside a holding cell for people that cut themselves, is the notion of “technocratic competence.”

      1. So when we gut government down to its bones, will Grover Norquist say, lo, thee may stop cutting taxes, and perhaps raise them if necessary? Or is he a zealot who lacks the ability to think critically at all?

        Government can’t be competent? Yeah not if you elect incompetent people. We’ve had our fair share of that. They’re not all equally incompetent; that would be a ridiculous claim. So what does that make you? A zealot who lacks the ability to think critically.

        1. “So when we gut government down to its bones, will Grover Norquist say, lo, thee may stop cutting taxes, and perhaps raise them if necessary? Or is he a zealot who lacks the ability to think critically at all?”

          I think the funniest party about all the TEAM bullshit is the bogeymen each side create (the Kochs, Soros, Adelson, Norquist, Alinsky, etc). Still no proof Norquist is an anarchist. Let alone any proof that Romney (or a significant portion of the Republican party) is some sort of Norquist small government disciple. Though I guess to the left, where proposing to grow a few welfare programs at a slower rate than they’re currently growing at, though not cutting spending, makes someone a Rand disciple, it’s probably a low bar

  13. Wow no way man thats like insane dude.
    http://www.u-privacy.tk

  14. Republican/FOX’s problem is there are not enough racist, angry, bitter, rich, immoral, unethical, bigoted, old men voting to beat President Obama.

    There are now too many College educated Americans for the Republican/FOX party to survive as it is.

  15. The American people aren’t stupid. They can see the reality of the world we live in and President Obama’s record. You talk of whose side somebody is own but say nothing about what it is we have supposedly gained. Obama never talks about his record because he’s accomplished practically nothing. Here’s the reality:

    1. The economic recovery, which began in 2009, is the weakest in more than 70 years. Economic growth since 2009 of 6.8% is the weakest of any recovery since the end of WWII. At this point in previous comebacks the economy had grown an average of 15.5%.

    2. Consumer spending since 2009 of 6.5% is the weakest of any economic recovery since the end of WWII. At this point in previous comebacks consumer spending had grown an average of 14%.

    3. Hiring since 2009 has replaced 46% of the jobs lost during the recession. At this point in previous comebacks hiring had grown to an average of 350% of jobs lost.

    4. Current unemployment of 7.9% is the worst of any economic recovery since the end of WWII. At this point in previous comebacks unemployment averaged 5.3%.

    This is personal for me since my cousin just lost her job. Obama’s economy is a disaster because he doesn’t believe in or understand economic growth. He thinks investment should come from Washington, not from the marketplace. His bad investments have cost taxpayer’s more than $ trillion. We can’t afford four more years. Get the facts here:

    http://www.votesmart2012.org/

  16. Speak for yourself Petersuderman. I quiet like his policies better than Romney’s policy. Don’t create stories here.

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