What “something” means to those inclined to this argument is almost entirely economic — which is valid as far as it goes in the face of the sluggishness of the heavily obstructed, politically hobbled recovery. But “something” is also inchoate. The middle-class choose to believe “something” will be good for them. But only a very special few have any genuine, realistic hopes of benefiting from a Romney-induced “recovery”.
In his column this morning, David Brooks of The New York Times imagines the effects of the next four years under Barack Obama or Romney. Essentially, he boils it to: Stasis with Obama. A repeat of the last four (or two) years. While under Romney, the GOP’s insurgent wing will move from obstruction of concepts and legislation their adult leaders once supported but reversed and walled off in their single-minded determination to destroy Obama’s presidency (national crisis be damned). Correctly, Brooks reminds readers that GOP politicians, most in gerrymandered-safe districts, are far more fearful of being thrown out of office by a right-wing, Tea Party challenge than the implausible rise of some populist Democrat. A Romney presidency would, he argues, neutralize the Tea Party and relax its grip around the throats of “moderate” Republicans, whoever they are.
Brooks of course is persona non grata with Republican insurgents, and has previously expressed his concerns that no voter anywhere has any idea what Romney will actually do, since the man has at some point over the past six years been both for and against every major issue under debate and has been resolute in avoiding anything remotely specific when it comes to economic management.
In these final days, with closing arguments reduced to “change” (Romney) and “trust” (Obama), I suspect voters swayed by Romney’s message are buying into Brooks’ thesis — that with Romney, “something” will at least change, where with Obama it’ll be another four years of trench warfare.
It goes without saying I’m unimpressed with the quality of deductive reasoning on display in that acceptance. In addition to avoiding a deeper analysis of what kind of “change” Romney is talking about (and who could possibly know, beyond loosening the fetters on “job creators”?), the crowd that wishfully chooses to believe that is simply impatient, and prepared to gamble that more trickle down good for them will come from a return to George W. Bush-style economics/regulation than steady, incremental recovery (from Bush economics) under Obama.
Obama plainly has the more coherent, empirically rooted argument. He has by and large done what he promised to do four years ago. The economy was saved from complete collapse. The government did have to extend credit to the auto industry, and that worked. The stimulus protected millions of jobs. The unemployment rate is falling. The housing industry is recovering. Obamacare will begin driving down every businesses ruinous cost of health care and millions more will be covered than two years ago. (OK, Guantanamo is still open. But as with home loan modification, full financial industry oversight and re-regulation, GOP obstruction is far more to blame than any other factor).
In stark contrast to a guy who has said everything and yet nothing, Obama’s “trust” argument is more logically resonant. But logic isn’t always what carries elections.
If logic and “trust” mattered there’d be a graver reaction to Romney’s shameless lie of the day — the bit about Obama shipping “all” Jeep manufacturing to China, a claim he apparently pulled off a right-wing blog which mangled it from a Bloomberg story. Worse, when called on it, by the media and Chrysler management, Team Romney’s response was to — double down on the lie.
Point being, “trust” is an antonym for Mitt Romney.
But there are valid questions attached to the Obama-brings-more-of-the-same concern. I also wonder what a second term Obama will be able to do. Avoiding complete conservative control of the Supreme Court is reason enough to reelect him. But … can he use the threat of the “fiscal cliff” to re-set the revenue equations to middle-class advantage? (As opposed to relying on the largesse of the upper classes to toss some crumbs over the castle walls.) No one can possibly know.
On the other hand, you know with absolute certainty that Romney will provide tax relief for the wealthy, many of whom have bolstered their holdings through the recession by increasing the “productivity” of their remaining work force, and have no reason at all to return to pre-2008 wage and benefit scales.
But really, what other trick does the GOP have, other than obstruction? I do not see either Mitch McConnell or Eric Cantor adopting a conciliatory line to a second-term Obama. Both of those guys’ careers depends on remaining hyper-partisan warriors. If you like operating on a worst-case scenario basis, you can only expect them to double-down obstruction, like Mitt Romney with his shameless lie of the day.
What I hope … hope … Obama will do is accept his political reality, re-set his tactics and rally both his base (liberals disappointed with his willingness to deal collegially with one-note adversaries solely focused on his destruction) and the sympathetic middle class to high indignation over the lack of functional patriotism in the GOP’s obstruction.
Even the narrowest reelection victory is a mandate for “change”.