Readers of this column know that during the GOP primaries, I threw my support behind Ron Paul. Paul was a flawed candidate in several respects, but he not as flawed as his competitors. Besides, most of Paul’s disadvantages were primarily stylistic. Those of his rivals were mostly substantive.
Now, though, the primaries are over and Mitt Romney has safely secured his party’s presidential nomination.
During the primary contest, many Paul supporters swore that they would vote for no one but Paul. This, of course, remains their prerogative, and given the unjust treatment to which their candidate, as well as they, had been subjected by Republicans, it is understandable if they insist on exercising it.
Still, I hope that they will consider changing their minds.
My reason for this is simple: for all of Romney’s handicaps—and they are ample—he would make a significantly better president than Barack Obama.
Paul supporters have an objection to this thesis ready at hand, one with which we are all familiar: between the Republican and Democratic establishment candidates, there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference.
This line invites two replies.
First, while it is hard for the remotely astute observer—the person with the ability and the will to resist confusing rhetoric with policy—not to sympathize with the thrust of the Paul supporter’s objection, it is equally hard to buy into it lock, stock, and barrel.
And this in turn is because it is not altogether true.
There are indeed some important issues—like Obamacare, say—on which Romney and Obama disagree. Even when their disagreements are in degree (not in kind), if and when they are fleshed out, they promise to have keenly felt consequences for the rest of us.
Let me reiterate: Romney is neither a conservative nor a libertarian. At best he is a neoconservative (which isn’t saying much); at worst, a left of center moderate.
However, he is not as bad for the country as is Obama.
This brings me to my second response.
When we think about the well being of our country, we can’t just think in terms of legislation, for our country is much more than this. The habits, the mores, of a people are more important than their laws, for if the cultural prerequisites of sound law and law-abidingness are absent, the law can no more guide conduct than the proverbial paper tiger can bite.
A liberty-loving people is a people with a deeply engrained, indeed, an intractable, inclination to be suspicious of all concentrations of power. To minimize the odds that this power will be corrupted and their liberties curtailed, liberty lovers will resolve to avail themselves of every lawful measure with which to counter this power.
Now, the President of the United Statespossesses enormous power (far more than the Founders ever dreamt of allocating to this office). The President’s is the face of the country. Because of this, it is not just a good thing that the President be bombarded with criticism; it is necessary. However baseless, scathing, or hurtful, there is no criticism to which the President of a free country should be immune.
This is how it should be. Since our current President is (half) black, though, what should be the case is not the case.
True, Obama is criticized, but his critics invariably pull their punches. They insist upon focusing on his policies alone, and they insist on doing so without paying attention to the character, convictions, and history of the flesh-and-blood person whose policies they are. It is as if Obama was not a person, but an inanimate tool, a policy-producing machine devoid of beliefs and values.
Satirists and comedians, along with journalists and pundits, aren’t nearly as relentless in their attacks against Obama as they have been and continue to be when attacking other politicians (and former politicians, like Sarah Palin). In fact, they aren’t relentless toward Obama at all.
It isn’t just Obama’s blackness that accounts for the timidity of those who are expected to be otherwise. More importantly, it is his eagerness to exploit this widespread fear of “the R word” that explains this phenomenon.
Obama not only milks whites’ fear of being branded “racists” for all that its worth. As we have seen in the cases of Professor Henry Louis Gates and the Cambridge police, voter intimidation courtesy of the New Black Panther Party in Philadelphia,Pennsylvania, and, more recently, Trayvon Martin, Obama does his best to exacerbate this fear.
In short, far from the post-racial President that he promised to be, he has manipulated race relations for the worst in order to suppress criticism.
This can only be deleterious to liberty.
This November, Obama has got to go.