by Barry A. Liebling
While every presidential election is described by partisan boosters as the most important in history, the 2012 election is especially significant. The candidates are advocating domestic policies that are both incompatible with one another and tremendously consequential for the American people.
President Obama – the team captain of the Democratic party – is determined to continue growing and strengthening the welfare state. The Democrats’ credo is that all problems should be addressed with government intervention. In situations where there are no problems, the “helpful hand of government” should be used to make things “even better” and “more fair.” While not all government actions are necessarily good, all good outcomes are the result of government actions and permissions.
Of course, President Obama’s position is perfectly synchronized with that of some of the most influential elites in the country. Most of the high ranking officials in the education establishment – from public schools (kindergarten through high school) and from the most prestigious universities – fully support the president’s agenda. Executives in the largest media companies – colloquially referred to as the main stream media – are famous for their commitment to leftist politics and their intense infatuation with the president. And a clear majority of celebrity entertainers are enthusiastic supporters of President Obama and his vision for a “transformed America.”
Challenging President Obama is the Republican candidate, Governor Romney. His domestic theme is that President Obama is mistaken and that the country has gone too far with its ever expanding government. If Romney is elected it is not clear exactly what course he will take. However it is a safe bet that he will act to slow down the growth of the welfare state – putting some limits on it (a policy that is anathema to Democrats). Notice that this is not the same as stopping the growth of regulations and entitlements, or reducing the government’s hand print, or eliminating entire agencies.
Voters who support Governor Romney for president are more heterogenous in their political attitudes than those who favor President Obama. Some are simply uncomfortable with the outcomes that the president has achieved since he took office. They are attributing the domestic malaise to President Obama’s poor performance and believe that Romney might do a better job. Some are more philosophical and believe that less government will lead to a more prosperous country and see Romney as a means to that end. A few genuinely appreciate the idea of individual rights and regard the election of Governor Romney – since it would mean the end of the Obama administration – as a promising small step towards eventually rolling back the welfare state.
The polls indicate that the two candidates are fairly evenly matched with respect to their popularity among voters. There are only a few “swing states” that will determine the final outcome of the election. It is noteworthy that less than two months before the election a substantial number of voters say they are undecided. They might vote either way depending upon how they feel between now and election day. And, if the polls are correct, the undecided voters will ultimately determine the outcome of the election.
What characterizes a voter who is undecided? An undecided voter is someone who is not particularly interested in politics. Anyone who is even moderately concerned and pays attention to the issues knows full well whether he or she is in favor of expanding the scope and power of government. The core issue is not subtle. It is hard to imagine what President Obama and his surrogates could possibly say that would convince a voter who is repelled by a bloated, invasive government that ballooning the state even more is a good idea. In a parallel fashion, it is highly implausible that the Romney team could persuade a voter committed to the leftist agenda that brakes should be applied to the welfare state.
Bear in mind that there is nothing wrong with not being interested in politics. Many people just want to live their lives in peace and have no desire to get mentally involved in the machinations of Washington. But if politics is not a salient topic, and a citizen votes, the decision will be made on the basis of peripheral – perhaps trivial – issues. For example, the undecided voter might vote for the candidate who looks better, who appears more charming, or who has a more attractive family. Likewise, the undecided citizen might vote against the candidate that seems to be (or is described by trusted sources as) insulting, prone to making foolish mistakes, or motivated by malice.
This suggests that in the final weeks before the general election both the Democratic and Republican campaigns will benefit most by putting a lot of effort into making their candidate look superficially appealing to inattentive, apathetic American citizens. It is the uninterested voter who will decide the election.
*** See other entries at AlertMindPublishing.com in “Monthly Columns.” ***