Yes We Might! | Issue 21

Yes We Might! | Issue 21

Okay, so he wasn’t on my list. Shut up.

Last Saturday, Romney confirmed Paul Ryan, a 42-year-old Wisconsin congressman, as his Vice-Presidential running mate. Various US hacks immediately churned out a series of useless factoids: naming Ryan the “most conservative” VP candidate ever, obsessing over his ideological debt to libertarian banshee Ayn Rand, and estimating that Ryan will net Romney 1,231 more votes in Wisconsin and increase his electoral college vote by 0.1% (personally, I think it’ll be 1,316 and 0.098% but hey, I’m a maverick).

First off, measuring candidates in terms of how “conservative” or “liberal” they are is misleading. These measurements define “conservative” and “liberal” policies based on which political party – Republican or Democrat – they are traditionally associated with. In reality, there are more than two political ideologies. Because Ryan is more libertarian than conservative, he loses “conservative points” on areas like gay marriage, to which he has given qualified support, and foreign policy, on which he has been quite vague. He is not the “most conservative” VP candidate ever – that’s Dick Cheney – but he is by far the most economically right-wing. An emerging Republican ideologue and policy wonk, he drafted the party’s vetoed congressional budget that would have slashed income tax for the rich, removed capital gains and interest tax, and passed the costs onto the lower and middle classes through tax hikes and welfare cuts. Under this budget, Mitt Romney would have paid 0.82% tax. Which says it all, really.

Apparently, in his youth Ryan, like innumerable other maladjusted teenagers with delusions of grandeur, became inspired by Ayn Rand’s uplifting message about how shit poor people are. Still, this was decades ago, and Ayn Rand is often just a lazy tag that gets slapped on anyone with libertarian leanings. In Ryan’s case, it doesn’t really fit. Ryan is a staunch Catholic and extremely pro-life, two positions of which Rand was sneeringly contemptuous. He articulates his views not with the Rand-inspired harping common among US libertarians, but with the sort of dry righteous drivel and empty community-oriented rhetoric that recalls David Cameron’s chimeric “big society.” Basically he’s a bit of a boring fucker, glisteningly bland, numbingly sleek, Ebenezer Scrooge driving a brand new, spec’d-up Toyota Corolla at 6km/h over the speed limit while C-3PO leans over from the passenger seat and gently fellates him.

So why Ryan? He won’t boost Romney’s meagre support among women, minorities or moderates; but he will shore up the conservative Republican vote and help secure donations from the super-rich. His selection means Romney almost certainly won’t win unless something goes wrong with the economy; but in that not-implausible event, having Ryan on board will significantly boost Romney’s chances. Picking him is therefore a high-stakes game. Will it work?

Meh, probs not.
This article first appeared in Issue 21, 2012.
Posted 4:26pm Sunday 19th August 2012 by Creepy Uncle Sam.