Monday, August 13, 2012
The Ryan Choice
The Ryan choice is a good one, or so it seems to me. Whatever mysteries emanate from the persona of Mitt Romney are now forever resolved. His positions on issue will trouble people no more because with Paul Ryan on board, there's no question about the direction of the ship of state. He's going quite right.
It doesn't seem all that long ago when some people I knew were convinced a third party simply had to be created because the two-party system offered little alternative to bland sameness. Not this time around.
I don't think anyone really knows what makes Barack Obama tick, whether he's a centrist or plain old progressive; but he's certainly not the demonic Muslim communist the far right claims he is. What we do know, however, is he's not Paul Ryan. This November, coming to a polling place near you will be a stark choice between two significantly different views of the role of government in the lives of the governed.
Both sides will continue to vilify each other, of course--that's politics. The truth of the matter--or so it seems to me--is that all truth is elliptical; it has two centers, and, frequently, that reality produces paradox: we need government and we don't need government. There, both assertions are true; either one of them, standing alone, is nonsense. No one, save Karl Marx, really wants government running our lives, and no one, save the maddest libertarian (not even Ron Paul), really wants the government to roll over and die.
The key here, as anywhere in life, is balance or moderation, even though moderation is not a word you'll hear often from the floor of either of the upcoming conventions. A government has to be strong enough to compel justice and loose enough to encourage freedom.
Justice--equality, fairness, regulation--is in some ways the polar opposite of freedom. Nobody, really, believes in a totally unfettered free market (well, some do, but witness where the banks have taken us in the last five years). Nobody wants to get on an airplane or enter a coal mine where maintenance is unchecked (well, some claim they do, but wouldn't). On the other hand, everyone hates "red tape."
Paul Ryan believes in strong government, strong enough to deliver a military that can take care of us, and even solve some of the world's problems. And Barack Obama believes in the free market, even if there are times (as with the auto industry) when government needs to do something to keep doors open and families fed.
Both liberals and conservatives exist and have their being somewhere with the continuum of liberty, on one hand, and justice on the other, or strong central government on one hand and unfettered markets on the other. No one is pure (well, I suppose there are, but they're lunatic fringe); both are somewhere in the middle.
Nonetheless, if Ryan is Romney's bottom line, then the choices are clear--even if they're not polar opposites. The choice is between two different (not radical) views of the government's role in our lives.
My wife has been employed for the last several weeks attempting to understand the storm of insurance billing statements created by three or four fairly significant medical procedures in the life and times of her feckless husband. Republicans have created a horrifying bogey man out of Obamacare, but even most supply-siders confess that, if it's repealed, something has to be done about, say, pre-existing conditions. Even Paul Ryan would say the government has a role in medical care in this country. How great?--there's the rub.
Ryan defines the Republican agenda in ways that squishy Mitt just couldn't. And that's good.
There'll be a choice this November. And choice is something becoming in a democracy.
Posted by J. C. Schaap at 5:39 AM