As the 2012 presidential election dawns, it’s clear to me what choice we face. In 2008, I wrote that the impending election was “not about Obama vs. McCain; it's about smart vs. stupid.” I felt (for the first time since I began following presidential politics) that only one side was telling the truth about anything. That was the year when the Birthers first festered, their allegations having yet to be ridiculed and dismissed by all sane people. Then, following Obama’s inauguration in 2009, the Tea Party sprang up through the astroturf of nowhere with its sudden, long-running disdain of federal spending. Oh, and just happened to be composed almost entirely of extreme (and extremely low-information) Republicans and libertarians spouting racially tinged rhetoric. Gee.
Here in 2012, the Birthers and the Tea Party both remain alive and demented. The truth should have killed both a long time ago, but they press on like zombies. Slow, racist zombies.
While those groups continue to influence (infect) the GOP today, their impact has not resulted in a successful presidential contender. Instead, they’ve pushed forth Mitt Romney, who wouldn’t have been out of place in many past elections. He’s a poster boy for everything that made the Republicans awful before 2008. Those things being:
• Government of, by and for the rich;
• Demonization of the poor;
• Helping the middle class by not helping them;
• Demonization of the government;
• Lionization of business ethics without adhering to them;
• Hijacking patriotism, morals and the flag;
• A recklessly saber-rattling foreign policy;
• Applying alternate-universe solutions to real problems.
Romney is the candidate of the party whose best political bet was to run the ruthless corporate raider. And he’s running against one of the most riveting and effective presidents of the past 40 years.
That’s the choice. It’s not one.