A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
Nobody likes Mitt Romney. The progressives don’t like him because he’s too conservative; the conservatives don’t like him because he’s too progressive. The media doesn’t like him because he’s not Barack Obama. Personally, I don’t much care for the guy either. He’s way to “Man from Glad” for my liking. If I had a dog in this fight it would be Jon Huntsman — if for no other reason than while Romney speaks French, Huntsman speaks Mandarin. Do the math! Fortunately, I don’t have to like Mitt Romney, and neither does the American public. They just have to elect him because, if they don’t, the road to hell is paved and right now America is using up all four lanes trying to get there.
To those of us who don’t live between Maine and Malibu, it looks pretty seriously like America is coming apart at the seams. This isn’t journalistic hyperbole; it’s real time observation. The litany of problems is exceeded only by the list of stumble-bum ideas currently on the books to solve them. You can disagree if you want to, but you’d better check your pulse because you may be in a coma. I realize that over the last two centuries our neighbour has had its share of little ups and downs. I also understand that America is still dancing at the coolest party on earth. They still hold all the records for achievement above and beyond any other place in the world, and accounts of their imminent demise are greatly exaggerated. However, here in 2012, it looks remarkably like the ground is shifting out from underneath its feet. Open any media website and you’ll find a whole lot of “Ain’t it awful?” and not very much “Wow! That was close.” This has got to stop. If it doesn’t, those grandchildren in Nebraska are going to find out what comes after WTF.
The problem is for the last four years, America has been on vacation. In 2008, after eight years of George Bush, 9/11, colour-coded Home Security, war, terrorists, economic meltdown, disease, pestilence and floods, they needed some time off. And they took it. The timeshare condo guy came wheeling through with his “Hope” and “Change” sales pitch, and they bought in — without ever thinking it through. Now, like all vacationers, they’re back home with no money, a couple of trillion dollar mortgages and a suitcase full of useless crap that’ll probably end up in the yard sale next summer. Oh, yeah — and most of them are about to lose their jobs. They’re pissed. The last time Americans were this mad was 1776, and that ended up with everybody reaching for their muskets.
This election is not going to be about “Hope” and “Change”; even the most ardent Obama supporter has given that one up. But it is going to be about change. Americans are fed up with politicians. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a Tea Party rally or an Occupy Whatever! campsite, Americans have had it up to their teeth with petty politics. They are a pragmatic people, and they’re tired of spending the real money they don’t have on political crap they don’t need. They want something done about it — yesterday. This is going to result in a seismic shift at the ballot box. The Populist candidates (Republican or Democrat) are going to win and they’re going to win big. Congress will be so down home they’ll be installing porch swings and issuing banjos.
This is not necessarily a good thing. The will of the people is sacrosanct to Americans — even if it means shooting themselves in the foot. We’ve been witnessing that for the last two years, as a reluctant president skirmishes with a recalcitrant Congress. It’s only going to get worse after November when a pile of “We the People” politicians start flexing their muscles on what has already become a lame duck president. As Niall Ferguson said, they’re going to want to start turning back the clock to a time before Franklin and Eleanor were sitting by the fireside, and there won’t be anybody there to stop them. After all, Obama couldn’t pull off Healthcare properly back when he had Pelosi on his side. What’s going to happen when he’s counting his friends on one hand? Government gridlock will look like a reasonable option.
Romney as president solves this. He’s the centre-right executive that America needs right now. America doesn’t need any more ideology; the place is oozing with it. It needs someone pragmatic, someone who can get the government of the people, by the people — and in spite of the people — moving again. But, most importantly, Romney can beat Obama; Newt, Paul and Perry don’t have a hope.