Sunday, 19 August 2012

Romney-Ryan Roundup

Others have said far more and far better on Romney’s veep pick than I am likely to: CA Constantian, Mark Thoma and Paul Krugman via John at EifD, and David Lindsay (here and here) have all done a very fine number on the news, as well as exploring the issues around it, particularly with Mr Ryan’s intellectual flirtation with one Alisa Rosenbaum, an expat hack writer of bad Twilight-precursor fanfiction about Mary Sues who get into dysfunctional relationships with abusive and controlling men. (All you really need to know about her political philosophy comes straight from there, and all you really need to know about her fandom also, which is every bit as creepy, dogmatic, aggressively lowbrow and lacking in critical faculties as Ms Meyer’s.) Ryan’s claims to the inspiration of Catholic social teaching on his budget plans have also rightfully drawn the indignation of those who take Catholic social teaching seriously, notably the staff at Georgetown University and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, including Cardinal Timothy Dolan. Add another reason not to vote Romney onto the pile.

But the really interesting thing is the direction the veep pick seems to indicate for the Republican party and for American politics generally. Mitt Romney is as much of a political chameleon as David Cameron, it’s true, but he really doesn’t seem to care about the social issues most people who will turn out to vote for him will care about; in fact, he profited directly from abortion procedures as head of Bain Capital (which his opponent has not done). The abortion issue has become just so much political chaff to the Republican party, a way to turn out single-issue voters against their own best interests both spiritual and economic. On the other hand, thoughtful social conservatives should be (and some already are) looking to the Democratic Party as it begins flirting with concepts of transcendent public and social order which come close to the thought of Pusey and Newman, whilst continuing to hold fast to the left-leaning economic policies which do most to aid the most vulnerable: the unemployed, the underemployed, the working class (particularly working women) and children. In short, this forebodes a shift in the way we think about American left-right politics - we may end up having more conversations about libertarianism and communitarianism rather than liberalism and conservatism.