Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Calibrating The Meters

One of the Holy Grails of physics (my original trade) is the measuring
instrument of absolute precision: a device designed to measure some
objective phenomenon with zero "plus or minus." It's in
the nature of things that such an instrument is impossible to design or
construct. If you're curious about why this is so, it's because
standards of measurement are themselves limited to a specific precision,
and all calibrations are founded on a standard of measurement. (For
further information about immovable limitations on the scope of human
knowledge, please see God.)

But in the realm of human action, something approaching absolute
precision is possible. The aspect I have in mind this morning is the
question that lurks eternally beneath all decisions about whether to
support a particular candidate for office: "How far can I trust this

Think about that for a moment.

* * * * * * * * * *

It appears that Mitt Romney has a better than even chance of becoming
the next president of these United States. If you're an "anybody but
Obama" voter, that might settle the matter for you. I'm not one such; I
want to know whether Romney will improve on Obama's record in office
sufficiently to justify voting for him.

There are gradations to this inquiry, of course. Were Romney to behave
as badly as Obama (if not even worse) once installed in the Oval Office,
surely conservatives wouldn't consider it an improvement. But let's
imagine that President Romney were to govern as he did while he was
Governor of Massachusetts: mildly left of center, not as far to the left
as Obama, but detectably not as a principled conservative. Would that be
good enough to justify supporting him, or would it compel us to seek
another avenue?

Opinions will vary. The "anybody but Obama" voter would be undisturbed
by the prospect. The hard-core or "movement" conservative would be
outraged by the mere possibility. Voters in the range between
them...well, that's why we're here.

President Bush's 2004 campaign for re-election benefited considerably
from his accurate characterization of opponent John Kerry as a
"flip-flopper." Even nonaligned voters want a reasonable degree of
confidence that a candidate's espoused principles and statements on
policy will be consistent with his decisions in office, and Kerry's
frequent switchbacks denied them that confidence. It might have been
Dubya's best campaign weapon.

HOWEVER...several of President Bush's decisions on policy were
detrimental to the health of the nation, and therefore to the
conservative cause. Indeed, on one occasion he openly commented that he
had to set free-market principles save the free market. This
is not a recipe for endearing oneself to conservatives. Worse, it gives
the Left a huge opportunity to blame conservative principles for
negative outcomes, even though nothing could be further from the truth.

A candidate who talks Right but governs Left is a singular danger to the
future of the Republic. Not only will he do objective damage to the
country; he'll also blacken the reputation of conservative principles
and the policies that flow from them. President Bush has several such
blots on his escutcheon. The Left made capital out of them during the
2008 campaign to elect Barack Hussein Obama.

* * * * * * * * * *

Every campaign is unique in some ways and standard in others. The 2012
presidential campaign is standard in this regard: neither party is
perfectly happy with its candidate. The "base" on both sides -- that is,
persons whose alignment with the party is based on its supposed
principles rather than on mere partisanry -- has had to be mollified
into supporting the candidates. Nor has that job been done to
perfection; some number of voters will "sit out" the election because of
their dissatisfaction with the nominees. But it's unique in this regard:
neither candidate can run effectively on his record while in power.

The records-in-power of both Mitt Romney and Barack Hussein Obama make
it exceedingly difficult to accept their declarations of principle and
position at face value. We hear their words, then we review their
records, and we ask ourselves, "How far can we trust these guys?"

As a libertarian-conservative, I'm concerned with individual freedom and
strict observance of the Constitution above all other things. I find
myself wondering whether a Romney Administration will cleave acceptably
to that standard, or whether it will depart from it to an extent that
will support Leftist claims that "the Republicans are doing damage to
the country." I have no doubt that a second Obama term would do further
harm, possibly very great harm, to what remains of our Constitutional
order. But it would have the saving grace that the blame for that damage
would fall where it belongs: on left-liberal social-fascist principles
and policies. For those are the principles from which Obama has acted
and the policies to which he's given his assent. Should the country
survive, it would be unlikely to make an Obama-grade mistake again any
time soon.

So it develops that I have two questions:
1. How far can Mitt Romney be trusted to govern according to
conservative, Constitution-respecting principles?
2. If Romney can't be trusted sufficiently, then how likely is it that a
second Obama term would do irrecoverable, perhaps fatal damage to the
United States?

I expect many Americans will be asking themselves those questions, from
now to November 6.


Weetabix said...

1. I think he can be trusted to do what he's persuaded to do. He's a windsock. The real question is, "Will the conservative wind be stronger than the liberal wind?" I fear it won't, but I hope that the cross currents will keep him jittering ineffectually.

2. Unity. I fear the certain harm Obama would do in a second term more than I fear the possible harm Romney would do.

If Obama is elected again, it will be the majority of the country electing its own doom. To quote a Star Wars character, "So this is how democracy dies: with thunderous applause."

ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

It grieves me to type these words, but candor requires it. We cannot vote our way out of this unfolding catastrophe. The policies of the past century have brought us to this pass. We are a bankrupt world empire which is cordially loathed by actors who have adopted fourth generation warfare against us. Our military (as has always been their want) is focused laser-like on pouring borrowed and conjured money into preparing for the set-piece wars of the last century while our politicians remain obsessed with the purchase of their re-election by currying favor with this or that special interest group. This is unlikely to end well.

KG said...

Leonidas sums it up perfectly.

rickl said...

Yes, I agree with Leonidas.

I just posted a comment at Neo-Neocon. She disagrees with me, but that's OK. I guess time will tell who is right.

LindaF said...

No politician can measure up to a perfect standard. We, the people, have to do our part, and keep an eye on the machinations of those in government.

We also need to stop focusing on the national level as much as we all have, and realize the impact we can have (for about the same time committment) as a local watchdog/participant. For example:

- county government - a WHOLE lot of money is spent with very little oversight
- county boards: soil and water, education, zoning - the ability to influence/change things is tangible - and very few people can do a lot to make things happen - for good and for ill
- judges -- in those states that elect them, people need to know what their decisions were, and how that affects them.

It's tough. It takes time. But, I believe that it's worth it.

For my part, I'm planning to include a once-a-week post on my blog dealing with local politics. I encourage everyone to do the same.

Dan said...

"Should the country
survive, it would be unlikely to make an Obama-grade mistake again any time soon."

Don't underestimate the power of
stupid people in large numbers.

Obama-grade mistakes by the electorate occur with shocking
regularity do first of all to the
fact that stupid people exist in vast numbers and are allowed to vote but also to the less publicized fact that elections of any real influence and importance rarely have candidates on the ballot who are not owned lock stock and barrel by the movers and shakers behind the scenes.

As for Obama winning term 2 vs Romney turning him out....again,
not a huge change in the outcomes for America. Darth Soros himself observed that from his perspective there were no appreciable differences between the two.

I'd venture to guess that win or lose come November Obama and more importantly his handlers and minions have accomplished more than enough this term to insure that freedom in America has been put to rest barring something CWII or a Junta
overthrowing Washington.