One way or another, it???s time for Americans to grow up. There are two ways to do it. One is to allow infantile behavior to lead us into an incredibly destructive, painful crisis, which will burn away our childish illusions for a generation. The other way is to grow up now, while adult leadership can still save us from collapse.
There are two general schools of thought on Mitt Romney???s selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate. The dimmer view holds that Democrats are salivating at the opportunity to demagogue Ryan???s budget plans and supposed Medicare ???cuts.??? The optimistic view holds that Ryan???s intelligence, clarity, and ability to explain complex budget matters to the layman will impress independent voters, and what remains of the moderate Democrat electorate.
Of course, there are, as always, plenty of voters who have already made up their minds to support one ticket or the other. The Romney-Ryan ticket will either energize Republican support, or galvanize Democrat opposition, to a greater degree. The political value of the Ryan pick will depend on which side is more electrified. (Naturally, in accordance with time-honored political ritual, Democrats characterized Ryan as the Worst Veep Choice Ever. You won???t find too many cases of either party cheerfully applauding the opposing candidate???s wise choice of running mate.)
But this is not entirely a political equation, in the sense that we should be handicapping which campaign has a better chance of scratching out a win through carefully applied spin and clever advertising. If there???s one point Paul Ryan has worked to drive home during his tenure as House Budget Committee chairman, it is that the inexorable calculations of insolvency grind on, no matter how politicians portray them, or how studiously people try to ignore them. Voting for Obama in 2012 will not repeal reality, no matter how intensely the incumbent President encourages you to think otherwise.
It???s no coincidence that the Obama campaign has been, not only dishonest and vicious, but incredibly childish. The ???Romney gave my wife cancer??? line of attack promoted by an Obama Super PAC, which no one in the entire Obama campaign apparatus can bring themselves to even mildly denounce, is a concentrated dose of childish resentment and blame-shifting. The Medi-Scare attacks on Ryan???s budget are likewise infantile, unable to show even the elementary maturity necessary to concede that Ryan???s reform proposals don???t affect existing Medicare enrollees at all. There is no reasoned debate from the Democrats, just intellectual graffiti depicting Paul Ryan throwing old people off a cliff.
It is foolish to believe the promises of a vagrant government that will soon be unable to do anything except pay the interest on the massive debt it has accumulated. It???s absurd to believe that America???s greatest days are behind it, and now we can do nothing accept settle for what we are given, and try to make ourselves comfortable while global leadership passes into other hands. There is no freedom of choice when one of the ???choices??? offered is a lie??? a principle we correctly insist on applying to private commercial enterprise, but seem strangely unwilling to press against a State that demands the same unquestioning faith young boys and girls offer their parents.
Identity politics are inherently childish, as they presume members of certain groups have entirely homogenous mindsets, and somehow require special coddling from the government to survive. In this way, millions of adult Americans are treated as if they were dependent children, incapable of showing the same individual initiative and self-reliance as white males. And the people who treat identity groups this way claim to be their best friends, to such a degree that voting against them is literally unthinkable for authentic members of their favored tribes!
For example, after Paul Ryan was formally added to the Romney ticket, Andrea Mitchell of NBC News fulminated, ???This is not a pick for suburban moms. This is not a pick for women. This is a pick for the base.??? In other words, in Mitchell???s eyes, women are incapable of independent thought, or behavior. They require special care from our overstressed, insolvent government, without which they cannot hope to succeed ??? leaving them no choice but to ride our dying system straight into the ground. All women are ???Julia,??? the hapless imaginary dependent conjured in a infamous online presentation created by the Obama campaign, who could do nothing from gaining employment to bearing children without Big Government programs.
Even more remarkable was Melissa Harris-Perry on MSNBC (which is increasingly indistinguishable from its ostensibly more ???respectable??? partners over at NBC.) Harris-Perry said she was actually offended by Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney quoting from the Declaration of Independence. ???I???m deeply irritated by their notion that the ???pursuit of happiness??? means money for the richest and that we extricate the capacity of ordinary people to pursue happiness,??? she fumed. ???When they say God and nature give us our rights, not government, that is a lovely thing to say as a wealthy white man.???
Understand that she is, quite literally, describing adult members of various racial minorities as dependent children of the government ??? a total and complete inversion of America???s founding principles. She???s saying that non-white people don???t have inalienable rights, and are foolish to risk their government-provided benefits by listening to such nonsense. They only have the rights our ruling class chooses to grant them, and since some of those ???rights??? involve the redistribution of property, minority voters can???t afford to jeopardize the enormous accumulation of compulsive force in Washington. Only white people can afford to take risks, and claim responsibility for the results??? and only they have the luxury of insisting the State respect certain innate rights that it does not grant or retract at its whim.
That is the attitude of a child. The times ahead demand grown men and women to face them. The Constitution of the United States was written for mature readers. The Romney-Ryan campaign promises to treat us like adults. The Obama-Biden campaign wants us huddled under blankets, telling ghost stories by flashlight. The world outside those blankets moves on, caring very little about either manufactured fears, illusions of temporary safety, or hollow promises made by politicians who will be safely out of office when their hapless ???children??? realize how horribly they have been betrayed.