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Again, I generally factor away the specific politics as neither "side" is going to come even remotely close to anything but politically awful, and I also don't see an imminent threat of totalitarianism from either party despite whatever alarmist rhetoric might be heard on either side.

This is a mistake. Due to the widespread confusion in the Republican party, they sometimes support good things and sometimes support bad things. I'll refer you again to my example in Wisconsin. If you vote for them when they are trying to do "good things" it incentivizes them to do more. The Democrats, on the other hand, are wrong about their chosen morality, but not confused about the political implications. That means they consistently support awful things.

Later in your post you indicate that Republican support of tax cuts will result in greater deficits, and cite this fact as an indication that the Republicans are hopelessly out of touch with reality. Well, the Democratic prescription for "fixing deficits" is to tax rich people. I've got news for you; taxing the rich will have no meaningful effect on the deficit. Most of the wealth of rich people isn't taxable, and there aren't enough of them to make their taxable income matter. The only meaningful way we can hope to decrease deficits in the next year or to is to repeal the PPACA.

The Republican party does have some whackjobs like Bachman and Santorum. The last time I checked, Romney was neither of these people. Your original statement indicated that you thought Romney was worse than Obama, but you've only addressed how you think Republicans are, in general, worse than Democrats. To support your statement, you referred to Bachman's nonsense, or empty tax-cut shenanigans, or commitment to welfare statism. These are specific policies, so its worth revisiting one of your statements:

Again, I generally factor away the specific politics

Your criticisms of Republicans do not support this statement. From what I can see, you aren't disregarding specific political stances generally, you are simply disregarding Democratic stances along with the better of the Republican stances. This is called, "cherry-picking," and I wish you wouldn't do it. If you don't think policies matter, don't bring any up. But a conversation about political figures would likely be impossible without reference to policies. So, again, I think disregarding policies in this discussion (and in formulating your own private opinion of the candidates) is a mistake.

But I don't want to talk past what I think is your point. It seems to me that the point you are trying to make is this: Support for a political party can meaningfully effect the culture at large. Specifically, this happens by spreading the philosophy of the party.

I don't think this is an accurate depiction of how ideas take hold of a culture. Sure, there is some dissemination of party philosophy, but it isn't the driving cultural force you seem to think it is. I think the parties' philosophies are dependent on the culture at large. We have a chance to influence how Republicans think by rewarding them in their efforts to break Union control in politics and to repeal the PPACA. The alternative is to tell them that trying to repeal Obamacare was a disaster, and that they are better off trying to spread illegitimate government faster than the Democrats.

Obama is, by historical standards, operating pretty far to the Right.

This might not be relevant to our conversation, but you've lost me. Specifically, what do you mean by, "historical standards," how does that apply to Obama, and where does that put Romney?

One GOP Congressman (I forget his name but he's an MD who is on some committee related to health-care) was suggesting that the GOP solution could be designed so that states would have to enact individual mandates or end up paying a chunk of the costs for uncovered folks. Since such a mandate was supposedly well-within states-rights, it would be okay. Sigh!

The same GOP congressman came up with another possibility: Obamacare does not actually mandate health-cover, but fines people who don't have it. Instead, the GOP could create a tax-credit which would achieve exactly the same thing under a new name.

The only suggestion that is not just a copy with a new name is the voucher part of Ryan's plan.

That sucks, and it reminds me of a recent piece by Paul Hsieh. He referenced an NPR program where they talked about what a congressional committee seat is worth. If we don't change course, there will come a time when the primary job of a congressman will be to increase his committee's earning potential - accomplished by expanding regulation. We may already be there.

Fortunately, the second of the congressman's suggestions is already out of his hands; the Supreme Court will decide on that one soon. As to his first suggestion, it's pretty bad. We can only rely on public sentiment against it.

Edited by FeatherFall
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According to the recent Gallup poll, Ron Paul is polling just about neck-to-neck with Obama. http://www.gallup.co...hmann-paul.aspx Ron Paul has very steadily increased his support since his la

Ironically, that same article has all the evidence to suggest that the numbers from August polls have zero relationship to actual outcomes. Not sure why they still do them. I think a better way to

"The most basic principle to being a free American is the notion that we as individuals are responsible for our own lives and decisions." - Ron Paul Unless, apparently, those individuals organize

Fortunately, the second of the congressman's suggestions is already out of his hands; the Supreme Court will decide on that one soon.
I'm not sure of that. The SCOTUS might say that the Feds cannot impose an individual mandate. However, the SCOTUS does not use individual rights as a starting point. It is more about "what can the Feds do?". So, even if they decided against an individual mandate, states may still be able to impose mandates. For example, even if the SCOTUS throws out Obamacare, Massachusetts' RomneyCare will remain legal.

A few days ago, I caught another example of GOP-related wisdom, this time about oil-prices. Sarah Palin was doing a show on oil-prices (she might have been guest-hosting the Huckabee show). With her, she had a self-proclaimed Wall Street guy who comes on one of the CNBC programs and tells people whether to buy/sell etc. They talk about having a secret solution that will bring the price of oil down. It will all be revealed soon, but first they first talk about how we should drill more -- Alaska etc. All that makes sense. Then, they wheel out the big secret -- complete with a guy in dark-glasses delivering a sealed packet. And what is it: "control Wall Street oil-speculators"!

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[...]

But I don't want to talk past what I think is your point. It seems to me that the point you are trying to make is this: Support for a political party can meaningfully effect the culture at large. Specifically, this happens by spreading the philosophy of the party.

[...]

The point I was trying to make was the opposite: at this juncture, supporting a political party is a pointless exercise. Right now the only meaningful place to change our culture is in the realm of philosophy and ideas. This will, for instance, require writing that is at present decidedly unpopular and "out there" (compared to where the culture is now) in hopes that the truth will ultimately catch on. This is a thousand miles away from partisan politics however.

The only meaningful way we can hope to decrease deficits in the next year or to is to repeal the PPACA.

Huh? Want to take a look at the current US Federal budget breakdown and try that again? Over half of our Federal budget is SS and Medicare (see my interesting posting on the federal budget :-) ). Getting rid of the deficit will require a massive sea-change in thinking in the USA, which neither party is even remotely near.

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SoftwareNerd, the SCOTUS is currently hashing out whether or not the mandate is a tax, whether they can rule on it now or have to wait until 2014, whether federal mandates are constitutional, etc. You're right that none of this has to do with state mandates, which are currently accepted by the SCOTUS. I don't need to be convinced that Republicans support lots of bad policies. My contention is that the (soon to be) Republican nominee is better than the Democratic nominee. Not that Republicans are a "good" party.

Getting rid of the deficit will require a massive sea-change in thinking in the USA, which neither party is even remotely near.

You're right that getting rid of the deficit will require a massive change. But I never suggested that a repeal of Obamacare will fix the deficit, only that it is a significant move in the right direction. Massive sea changes will require the cultural work you mentioned, and are certainly not on the table this political cycle. Getting rid of the PPACA does not require such a massive change, and is on the table this cycle.

By the way, I agree with what you've presented in the "Ideal Federal Govt." thread.

Edited by FeatherFall
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It is for one reason alone that I will vote for whoever looks most likely to beat Obama, even if I don't support them- the next president will likely be appointing the next two SCOTUS justices. While the more conservative leaning judges make some decisions I don't agree with they have nothing on the justices nominated by democrats.

We simply can't afford more Kagans and Sotomayors on the Supreme Court.

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My contention is that the (soon to be) Republican nominee is better than the Democratic nominee.
I think Romney is clearly a better guy than Obama and will make a better President. They're both constrained by politics. Obama wanted to do much more than he has managed to do. Obamacare itself barely squeaked through. Romney will probably do something around the edges of health-care. Also, his appointees will probably do better in a lot of small and mid-level decisions (think keystone pipeline).

I wonder if Romney can do anything significant on spending. Paul Ryan's plan is very unambitious, but it sounds like he's Ayn Rand when compared to the average U.S. voter. My main beef with the general U.S. voter is that a lot of lip-service is paid to deficit-reduction, but nobody wants to cut Medicare/Medicaid. Social-security and everything else are relatively small and easy fixes compared to Medicare/Medicaid.

It doesn't say much for the quality of candidates, but compared to most past 20th century presidents, I figure Romney would be somewhere in the top, because he's basically a pragmatic businessman.

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It is for one reason alone that I will vote for whoever looks most likely to beat Obama, even if I don't support them- the next president will likely be appointing the next two SCOTUS justices. While the more conservative leaning judges make some decisions I don't agree with they have nothing on the justices nominated by democrats.

We simply can't afford more Kagans and Sotomayors on the Supreme Court.

Row v. Wade will absolutely, positively go down in flames if a Mormon president is allowed to appoint two justices.

I know this is a judgement call, but I'm far more terrified of a government clamping down on my basic rights than one who will just raise taxes some more. One is a matter of degree, and the other is all or nothing...

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Actually, I don't agree that RvW will absolutely go under if Romney is elected. He was pro-choice much longer than anti-choice. I think his more recent anti-choice stance is appeasement as opposed to Paul's principled stand.

Also, I disagree with you about what is and isn't a "basic right".

Yes, a right to one's body is a basic right, but so is a right to property, a right to defend oneself and so on. Which Obama absolutely intends to destroy.

Obama has made clear he intends to rule as a dictator. Romney will be less of a cult of personality.

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Actually, I don't agree that RvW will absolutely go under if Romney is elected. He was pro-choice much longer than anti-choice. I think his more recent anti-choice stance is appeasement as opposed to Paul's principled stand.

Also, I disagree with you about what is and isn't a "basic right".

Yes, a right to one's body is a basic right, but so is a right to property, a right to defend oneself and so on. Which Obama absolutely intends to destroy.

Obama has made clear he intends to rule as a dictator. Romney will be less of a cult of personality.

I don't think I ever said property rights aren't a "basic right"... I guess that wasn't worded well, but it was meant to convey the "all or nothing" aspect of the downsides of the Supreme Court decisions going the wrong way. If I had to pay twice my taxes, I would be sad, but I would still be able to more or less do what I do. Specific laws on behavior, on the other hand, would stop me dead in my tracks.

To be clear here, this is an issue of "48/52" for me, not some sort of drastic difference.

I'm not sure how "Obama has made clear he intends to rule as a dictator" anymore than, say, Bush did. Frankly I find Obama middle of the road (and right of center based on the scale of the last 30 years) and generally ineffectual (which can be a good thing).

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Romney would probably rank a little above the median! Somewhere near Hoover ;)

At this point I guess we gotta take what we can get, huh? He strikes me as such a non-entity I'm pretty inclined to vote for Obama just to teach republicans a lesson in my own tiny way. Either that or Gary Johnson. Romney just doesn't strike my as genuine enough to believe I know him well enough to think that he would be meaningfully better. Obviously Obama is a guarantee of my life getting worse whereas Mitt is just a strong likelihood, but the difference is splitting hairs as far as I'm concerned.

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Romney's presence in the upper half of 20th century presidents is an indictment of 20th century voters... Which brings up an interesting topic, if anyone wants to start that thread (my favorite was "Cool" Cal Coolidge, for the record).

But back to this thread. I would absolutely love it if Gary Johnson polled at 15% so he could be in a debate. This is unlikely, so, when do we start talking about American's Elect? This is an effort to have an online primary to select a President and Vice President from different parties, and to get the two on the ballot in all 50 states. I'm not entirely certain how it works, but I think that if the primary ended now it looks like the ticket would be Ron Paul/Buddy Roemer. Roemer appears to be a weak-sauce, middle of the road nobody. His positions appear to be mirrors of "centrist" sentiment.

Edit: at the moment, Americans Elect is on the ballot on 25 states.

Edited by FeatherFall
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I think a rule of thumb ought to be: when in doubt (every 4 years?) change parties.

The good news is the U.S. made it all the way through the 1900s with presidents who were not much better.

The USSR "made it" through most of the 20th century with Stalin too. Western Europe made it though 1000 years of feudalism. Not really a comfort. Only tolerable because we have no way to measure the massive opportunity cost of our present corruption.

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Row v. Wade will absolutely, positively go down in flames if a Mormon president is allowed to appoint two justices.

I know this is a judgement call, but I'm far more terrified of a government clamping down on my basic rights than one who will just raise taxes some more. One is a matter of degree, and the other is all or nothing...

Nobody wants to reverse Roe v. Wade, despite all protestations to the contrary. Abortion rights enjoys the support of a majority of the public. As long as that holds true, it will never be overturned. The SCOTUS would simply deny writ. They don't want to get involved in that either.

I really don't understand Objectivists that see the right as a threat vis-a-vis the left. It seems to indicate an absolute political tin ear, as if we were politically on the very precipice of falling into a theocracy if <insert Republican candidate here> is elected. It ain't going to happen. There is no political will to go there. One might hear stuff like that from the crazies that tend to get the attention of the press, but it seems only other crazies take them seriously. Generalizing that view onto an entire swath of the electorate, and the candidates that make tangentially obsequious noises in their direction (because that's where the press is looking) is a mistake.

One must realize that the Presidential Election is a game much like Survivor, and integrity is not included in the rules.

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Utabintaro, while I don't think the threat is nearly as bad as CrowEpistemologist seems to think it is, I do think the threat is more serious than you seem to. The Roe v. Wade decision does not necessarily prevent states from banning certain types of abortions. A President/congress could conceivably bend federal money to incentivize states to create their own bans (this is similar to SoftwareNerd's suggestion that the Fed's might try to get states to enact their own individual insurance mandates).

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Utabintaro, while I don't think the threat is nearly as bad as CrowEpistemologist seems to think it is, I do think the threat is more serious than you seem to. The Roe v. Wade decision does not necessarily prevent states from banning certain types of abortions. A President/congress could conceivably bend federal money to incentivize states to create their own bans (this is similar to SoftwareNerd's suggestion that the Fed's might try to get states to enact their own individual insurance mandates).

I imagine that is possible, but from a viewpoint of political pragmatism, highly unlikely. After all, Bush 2 had the Presidency and both houses, and it didn't happen. Like it or not, the political will of the electorate matters, and nothing is likely to happen in the foreseeable future to change that. Basing one's political choices of the possibility of an exceedingly unlikely scenario seems ....wasteful.

The more likely scenario is that Barry gets a 2nd term, turns even more ridiculously to the left (since he'll have more "flexibility" by being relieved of the burden of reelection), nominates 2 Justices to the SCOTUS, and we'll relive the massive expansion of Federal power brought on by the Warren court, only on steroids and crystal meth. Or we elect Romney, and realign more center-right, get 2 Justices of the Roberts mold, and find that we still have to guess how cases will be decided.

In either scenario, BTW, we encounter an economic crisis which may render all this moot.

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