Defeat Mitt Romney

By Dan Kervick

New Economics Perspectives is an economics blog, not a political one.   So in the past, while I have written freely about some political issues, I have avoided the partisan political wrangle.  But an election is taking place on Tuesday, and some things must be said.  With the reader’s indulgence, I will be fairly brief.

I am voting on Tuesday to defeat Mitt Romney and the Republican Party.   In my view, Romney represents the very worst aspects of American capitalism.  Unlike so many of our politicians in Washington, he is not just a venal and servile defender of the barbarian plutocracy that runs this country.   He is actually a ranking chief of the tribe.   In his world of compulsive financial plunder, human beings and their labor are just chattel resources to be bought, traded, dismantled, used, abused, hired, fired and sold in the avaricious pursuit of personal gain.  Now some might believe this approach to life is truly the American way.   But whether that depressing proposition is true or not, the America of Romney’s hyper-capitalist pillage not the America I want to live in; and while I continue to breathe the air for which, so far, we do not have to pay, I will keep struggling against that darker America.

Romney famously expressed contempt for the 47% of Americans who do not measure up to his princely standards of serene and affluent independence from government.  If anything, I believe that percentage vastly understates the number of Americans who mean nothing at all to him.  And Romney is not the only self-satisfied sadist on the ticket.  Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, is a man whose political vocation was inspired by his reading of the crackbrained hellion of egotistic individualism, Ayn Rand, but who also claims to be a Roman Catholic and admirer of Saint Thomas Aquinas.  One might well wonder how a rational and literate human being could fail to grasp the extent of the vast moral gulf between these two thinkers.   The most obvious solution to this cognitive puzzle is that Ryan is simply a liar and an opportunistic psychopath.

But Romney and Ryan are not just par for the Republican country club course.   They are the prettified, airbrushed faces of a surly and slavering gang that is, if anything, even worse.  Candidate Romney is the anointed leader of a party that is now vehemently dedicated to hatred, ignorance, backwardness, bigotry and fanaticism.  The contemporary Republican Party has allowed itself to become a rolling, contaminated tide of stinking evil, and their representatives in Washington have spent the last four years doing everything they can to prolong and intensify economic pain in order to capitalize politically on our devastation.  No one can doubt Republicans have pursued this course deliberately, and with zeal, and it is a measure of the cynicism of our Washington political class that the kind of dereliction of duty that would once have merited floggings and a trip to the stocks now earns only admiring smirks and knowing shrugs from embedded pundits.   If the Republicans’ presidential candidate wins this election, their party will be encouraged and emboldened even further in their reckless career of social destruction.  I believe it is important to stand up to that kind of malevolence, and punish Republican malice with electoral defeat.

It is not enough to repudiate Romney and his ilk by voting for some attractive candidate from a small party, or by not voting at all.  Elections aren’t exercises in self-indulgent self-expression.  The point is actually to defeat Romney.  And he can only be defeated by voting for the only candidate who can defeat him, that that is Barack Obama.  Nobody needs to tell me how many failures and betrayals Obama has notched on his belt so far: the endless  war-making abroad; the failure to prosecute crimes on Wall Street or to pursue serious structural reforms of the economic system that wrecked the world in 2008; the neglect of mass joblessness and the deluded embrace of the new Washington witch craze of debt fret; the acceptance of conventional neoliberal wisdom on economic philosophy; the obsequious groveling after plutocratic acceptance and right-wing respect; the betrayal of homeowners; the complacent acceptance of rising inequality and corporate profits while the America dream evaporates for millions; and the trading away of a public option in health care.  Following the catastrophic and manifest failure of US-style financial capitalism in 2008, many progressives hoped for a crusade of economic reform and restructuring, if not an outright revolution.  We got a restoration of the ancien régime instead.

But this is the hand we have been dealt.   The Republican cretins can only be defeated by a failing and corrupted Democratic Party.  Ordinary Democrats sometimes mean well.   But the Democratic Party rank and file in 2012 is paralyzed by fear and submission, lost in a wilderness of confusion and disinformation, and addicted to timidity and a visionless program of mere hanging on.  On top of that, they are lorded over by a technocratic political elite whose members seem personally satisfied with the status quo, comfortably plugged into the money machine, actively anti-democratic in their tastes and social outlook and uninterested in the instinctive egalitarian values of more progressive Democrats.   All of that is true.  But I regard the current political landscape as a two front war.  And we must defeat one opponent at a time.   After the election, the fight can be redirected against the Obama administration and its insipid grand-bargaineering, neoliberalism and financial sector hugging.  Progressives are not powerless in this fight.  The Democratic caucus needs progressive support to get almost anything through Congress.

So there is it.  You will hear no peppy rallying cries and bandwagon boosterism from me in 2012.  Some might say mine is not a hopeful message, and they are right I suppose.  And purists might decry, as always, the sorry appeal to a lesser of two evils argument.   But there is such a thing as evil, and some of it is lesser.   That’s life.   I do have hope that progressives – the same people whom the President’s former chief of staff derided as “retards” – can eventually win great victories for the American people and help create a more equal, decent, prosperous, sustainable and democratic society.   But there are many enemies to defeat along the way.

26 responses to “Defeat Mitt Romney

  1. Nice rant, Dan! I largely agree with your analysis with the following exception. I think if one lives in a safe State then the right move is to vote for Jill Stein, or if a Senate seat looks safe for a Democrat then it make sense to vote for the Green. But, if your vote can possibly swing an election to a Republican, then I think you have to vote against them, from the top on down. They can’t be allowed anything but defeat now, until and unless they once again become a Party that no longer embraces nihilism.

    • I heard from a Republican party insider that if they lose this election badly, meaning Prez and Senate or Prez and House, there will be a major shake-up inside the party. This person said many senior party members feel the Republican party has lost its way. Ya think?

  2. I’m not a US citizen so I won’t be able to assist you electorally in defeating the Republicans, but I’d suggest there is a risk of the 2012 elections being stolen again like they were in 2000 and in 2004 as well.
    In 2008, there was no way for the GOP to steal the elections because the polls were so overwhelmingly in favour of Obama and it just wouldn’t be believable if McCain would have won.
    In case there is still skepticism as for 2004, Kerry should have won the popular vote and electoral college in 2004 according to the exit polls, plus so many more people had registered Democrat, and the turnout was much higher than in 2000, with Bush being so unpopular and all the Nader fans going for Kerry this time, it’s just not credible that that result was legitimate.

    It’s sad the system works so well against the people, and even then the plutocrats can’t get enough.
    To be able to live in peace with the wealth that they created by exploiting the rest of us, they must have an increasingly radical ideology where they are the authors of their own success, rather than parasites that are enjoying the free lunch that the people they look down on are handing them.

  3. Suggestion:
    Return NO Republican to public office – EVER AGAIN for they have demonstrated over the last four years their allegiance is to something other than the best interests of the people of the United States.

    Return NO INCUMBENT Democrat to public office – EVER AGAIN for they have demonstrated over the last thirty years that they have sold their allegiance to the highest bidder who’s agenda is something other than the best interests of the people of the United States.

    Do place into public office ONLY those of known integrity, although not a barrier against perfidiousness, it tends to increase the cost to those buying that allegiance. Make an effort to learn that integrity is, how it appears and by what means it operates, there are few if any examples currently in public view.

    Withdraw consent from the current political process, as it has been corrupted to its core. Hold the Supreme Court in the same contempt they have held the Law and traditions of the country, treason is their MO, a wall should be their fate with the same compassion given a herd-dog which has tasted blood. Theirs is a bell that cannot be unrung.

    Learn from history and decide some other form of governance, the combination to the present form is revealed and the treasure it protects is no longer secure to whatever predations that may occur. About the only major institution that still demonstrates some semblance of respect for knowledge and fact is the military out of functional necessity. If fortunate, it may provide the space and time for restructuring and developing a government that secures the public welfare; if unfortunate, a dark age will revisit the pages of history until the light of some other civilization shines, this is likely the surest option available to regain public control over power. Abandon all attempts to resurrect the status quo, the republic is dead.

    Please give most careful consideration as to posting this opinion, it may be unsuitable for this site, understandably. Should it not be posted, there is no harm, sometimes silence accomplishes more.

  4. Yeah, swing-state voters, including me, should vote for Obama. I went in early. Everyone else should use their vote for president as a protest.

    Let me ask the group: does anyone know of even a single elected official, at any level of government, in any country who gets MMT?

    Just asking.

  5. Robert Lavergne

    Not a very convincing argument for abstention – The Republican’s biggest problem has been how do they attack a guy who has adopted so many of their party’s defining beliefs? This obviously requires the time-honored tradition of depicting him as a radical menace. The Democrats have swung so far to the right that even Colin Powell approves. The election outcome doesn’t matter because the “choice” between different capitalist parties is not worth contemplating. None of them offer a viable future. What both parties are committed to is war. The choice being offered is would you rather die horribly and pointlessly with an Obama or Romney cowering in a bunker below the Pentagon? Whichever way you vote, you are voting for war.

    Why should workers vote? The most prominent crisis voters face is not the crisis of capitalism but the crisis of the working class, a crisis of political consciousness. We’ve created a situation that we’ve not yet consciously acknowledged. We’ve created conditions whereby the capitalist classes are unable to rule in the old way and have embraced a corporate model that only Mussolini (and a few others) would have admired. It is a political crisis because there is no class conscious response sufficient for a very dangerous situation. A vote is only meaningful if it can be cast for what the voter really wants and needs. What we need is an end to unemployment, a restoration and increased investment in health, education and public services. We need the wealth, which we create, to be invested in the nation’s future, that future being the capacity of workers to use their skill and ingenuity to provide a wholesome life for ourselves, our children and our childrens’ children. Is it conceivable that any of the corporate politicians can give us that? If it is, then why haven’t they done so?

    Why vote when there’s no significant difference between the two major parties. Both parties promote war. Both parties promote free-market ideologies. Both parties are complicit with fraudsters. Besides, can the public vote on ending the worst aspect of capitalism – exploitation? Mass abstention from voting would strip away the social democratic veneer. Social democracy is our own reluctance to fight back, to avoid political struggle by delegating ‘politics’ to others that sustains social democracy as capital’s political shell and has become the kleptocrat’s main weapon against us. Mass abstention from voting would not be the end of our political tasks, but it would be a wonderful start and would have the klepto/plutocrats quaking in their boots when the liberal facade is stripped away.

    A vote for Obama or Romney is a vote for war, more war, and more exploitation – preserving capitalism at any cost. Staying home is a vote for peace and for sweeping away an anachronistic system that promotes increasing deindustrialisation, income disparities and impoverishment. Both parties are in crisis and there is no clue as to how to attain the economic results they both desire – continued flow of wealth from the many to the few. As with all acute economic crises, the only resolution they offer is more wars, more austerity, more unemployment.

    Let’s do what others did – let’s say to hell with that phony and fatal choice. Let’s choose instead to vote for peace by boycotting capitalism’s voting booths (many do this already and I’ll wager anyone that less will vote in this election than in the last), which are simply the first recruiting centers for WWIII. At the same time, in voting for peace and not war by repudiating capitalist elections, we will be voting for full employment not mass unemployment, for an end to the destruction of industry and a beginning of a self-reliant progress for the good of the nation. Let’s start harnessing workers’ natural and honorable detestation of war to our equally natural hatred of exploitation in a mighty socialist crusade which will engulf the enemies of peace whose rule we still must endure. Let’s use MMT to build a socialist state that will spend the currency where the nation needs it to be spent – on jobs, education and healthcare, not on war.

  6. Good on you for voting against that dishonest snake-oil salesman.

    Only one party in your country is full of anti-intellectuals, religious nutters and Wall Street stooges. The only way the people can have a government based on reason and logic is if you elect those neanderthals out.

  7. And for the record, if you think you’re disappointed or unhappy with the President, think about all American liberals who wanted cap-n-trade, single-payer healthcare and sensible gun-control. The electoral system you live in and tolerate is something all Americans have to live with

  8. I’m not terribly concerned about a Romney presidency, as the differences between these two candidates is razor-thin, and I think we greatly overstate the scope of what a president actually can do to begin with. A Romney presidency combined with a Republican house has the benefit of actually being able to, you know, pass legislation. Whether it will be legislation we want is another question, but I don’t see any reaosn why four more years with Obama will not be the same as the last two, given that the current congressional arrangements are going to stay roughly the same.

    Another thing to consider would be the ability for a white, Wall Street man to push austerity measures through our political system compared with a black “socialist”. It may well be that a Republican austerity package is just what the doctor ordered for getting the left energized and pissed off enough to get their asses back out in the streets, while that same package coming from Obama will just leave them grumbling and subdued.

  9. Great rant, Dan. Never saw you quite so livid. But it is all true. We are trapped here. If we win this election, it will be past time to start working for the next time around.

    I personally think this third party stuff is nonsense. But for those so inclined I have the perfect candidate: Jack Rabbit. He will do all Jill Stein will do. He told me so. Plus Jack will implement MMT and the JG. And he is not squirelly. Then on November 7 we can all meet at the local Mickey D and make plans for next time – – you know like electing councilmen, mayors and the like so that four years from now we are not in the same fix AGAIN!

  10. Hey, I voted 3 weeks ago. Why isn’t he defeated yet?

  11. As a counter proposal respectfully submitted by –

    The Progressives for Romney! (PAC)

    Five reasons:

    1. Mitt Romney is a bad liar.
    Americans need a break. They are just too gullible, the 1% should cut them some slack and usher in a president that is not such a good liar, unlike the current one. Even now the press and many republicans know Mitt is lying. It took republicans two Bush terms to come to this realization.

    2. Mitt Romney is white.
    Yes, we need a white president to end the racial prejudice that has run rampant in this country for the last 4 years. If we had a white president, the progressives, liberals, and blacks would all wake up to see exactly what is taking place domestically with the war on drugs(war on blacks) and overseas with our wars of aggression. Perhaps if we had a white president liberals would recognize that we have already invaded Africa and the majority of blacks would wake up to see that they are the hardest hit segment of our economy and worse off now then 4 years ago.

    3. Mitt Romney is a vulture capitalist.
    Only a real jobs destroyer can truly represent the continuing economic agenda of wealth transfer and financialization that has been implemented over the past two administration. Motive, Means and Opportunity. They are greedy, technical, and we as people, through government undersight and deregulation have given them over the past 3 administrations the opportunity. Let’s stop lying and elect a person that represents the real spirit of America: Willard (Mitt’s first name) Romney!

    4. Mitt Romney knows little about the constitution
    Because he knows so little about the constitution he will not be as effective in it like the current president, who is a constitutional scholar.

    5. Mitt Romney is a Mormon
    With a Mormon as president, he will not be able to talk about religion because after all the Church of the Latter Day Saints is a faith only held by a minority of Americans. He will keep his religion, as during the campaign, private. Unlike previous republicans he will not be able to use his religion to mask his actions. (See point #1 above.) This will usher in a habit of what used to be called ‘Religious tolerance’ within the party of Lincoln.

    PS – don’t worry Conservatives there is also an alternative PAC for you.

    The NeoConservatives for Obama PAC
    * Because he is the best republican we have had since Ronald Reagan. (Made possible through a new revolutionary Teflon coating process.)

  12. How is it possible that the race is this close anyways?
    I don’t think rational well informed people will vote for the GOP.

  13. It is hard to see your point on this one Dan. I mean vote for what? The SCOTUS has seen to it with Citizens United that there is no say for anyone with less than $1B. Disfranchisement continues unabated in Fla, Ohio and perhaps PA. While Romney/Bain continues gutting the economy (see Bainport Ill), Obama continues his hapless path. Things won’t get better with Ben’s policies at the Fed though they may keep us from sliding into a depression for a while assuming no exogenous shocks force the matter. So there you have the guy with his finger in the dike as Washington is busy counting their payoffs. 6 months of inane BS from these two and not a word on on ZIRP and the wealth transfer it has caused the public to suffer.

    The time for voting ended some time ago Dan. The next step is now indicated.

    BTW, New Economic Perspectives is a fantastic site and if there is a ray of hope it is a site like this (and the Levy site) that speak to the people after politicians have long ceased to be relevant in this regard.

    • What is the next step???? There is nothing that the Levy Institute policy papers or NEP writers have advocated, as far as I can tell, that doesn’t involve politicians.

      • Hi Dan,

        thank you for your reply.

        “What is the next step???? ”

        Yeah I am not sure. I was hoping that you might be able to tell me. Excuse me if I have the wrong Dan, but didn’t you study philosophy and Decision Theory? I would say with that background you would be eminently qualified to come up with an alternative. You must have had a few courses in Game Theory in there too which should prove to be extremely helpful.

        Speaking of game theory, in chess there is an expression from chess which describes where we are right now IMHO. We are in zuqzwang which for anyone who might not be aware is German for move compulsion. We are in a position where although the game does not appear to be lost yet, we are forced to make a move with all options leading to a lost game. We are in a completely lost position politically (and so economically) for the reasons pointed out in the previous post (among others) so voting would seem to have very little relevance at this point.

  14. I am not voting and would love to see bigger number of Americans who won’t vote this time.
    I actually think Romney would be a better choice. American people need to wake up, and President Obama has the ability to keep them asleep with his talking, talking, talking. They need somebody, like Romney/Ryan, to shake them up with rough actions and throw them in the icy waters.

  15. No. Just no. Obama is a disaster more because he nullifies the opposition to the extremist right wing path America is on, than his policies , which are heinous in every respect.
    Romney/Ryan would be less effective because they would attract opposition from the “left”.

  16. OK, Dan, what do you really think?

  17. Dan Kervick,

    I think jag has a really good point on this. An Obama vote as the ‘lesser of two evils’ seems like an emotional vote. I normally find your writing illuminating, but I think in this piece you’ve allowed your emotions to get the best of you.

    Athough Romney is the one that SAID he doesn’t care about the poorest half of the country, would it be fair to say that Obama’s actions have SHOWN that he doesn’t care about the poorest half of the country?

    I think there is a lot of value in a vocal Left that seems to only make noise if a Republican is doing the damage. It’s only in that context that true liberal third party candidates like Jill Stein and Rocky Anderson could actually gain enough momentum. These candidates are drowned out by a quiet Left when we have a Democratic president.

    Third party candidates (Stein, Rocky, etc) that I suspect many followers of this site agree with more than the Democrats or the Republicans will NEVER HAVE A CHANCE unless liberals’stop rewarding the Democrats for inching to the Right. In order for third party candidates to get on stage, they must start getting more votes.

    And we all continue to be duped in the meantime…

  18. The differences between Obama-style Democrats and Republicans are not so great as I would like. But they are not insignificant. Obama attempted to pass a jobs act. It wasn’t much, but it was something and would have succeeded in getting us a somewhat lower unemployment rate than we have now. The Republicans summarily rejected it. There are also a whole range of issues that I never write about here because they have little directly to do with economics – issues relating to the role of women for example – on which the Democrats are superior to Republicans in my book.

    I think it’s a mistake to base votes on theories about how candidates will end up doing something very different than what they ran on. In 2008, Obama argued that it was necessary to wind down the war in Iraq in order to devote more resources to Afghanistan. I stupidly imagined that he was just saying the part about Afghanistan for political effect, so as to give himself a hawkish, security-oriented reason for finishing up with Iraq. But I was completely wrong. He meant it. I think the wisest course is to assume that Republicans, Romney included, will attempt to accomplish precisely the things they say they want to do, and that Romney will attempt to serve precisely the interests he appears to serve.

    After the election, I plan to re-register following the election as an independent. The parties are corporate machines that exist to collect money and produce election victories. They way to get their attention is to starve them of money and encourage others to starve them of money.

  19. Stanley Mulaik

    I’ve come to the conclusion that the T-Party dominated GOP is one huge Flat Earth Society. They deny
    science, facts, don’t know how to reason with facts, but lie. Their conceptions of economics are primitive. They think that federal government finance is like household, business, and state and local government finance. You have to get your money from elsewhere, which means you shouldn’t spend more than you now have. So, they use these cases, which they are most familiar with from their everyday lives to understand how government finances its expenditures. They deplore deficit spending, national debt. They think our government is going to become insolvent. It’s like the flat Earthers. They think something different is like something else they immediately see and are familiar with. They do not have the perspective of a wider understanding of how our country’s money system works to see that their demands for balanced budgets, for paying down the national debt, for not going further into debt with deficit spending just are misguided and misinformed. And if they pursue their false ideas, they will drive this country further into depression. They do not see that unlike a household, a business, or a state or local government, the federal government has to create the money supply and further to spend new money to get it into circulation in order to facilitate growth and fight recessions: in short deficit spending is a normal and necessary thing government must do in some circumstances to get the economy to grow and function with enough money. The problem is that they just know that somehow the Treasury has to borrow money it uses to deficit spend, and so they think this is like when they borrow money from a friend, or a bank. They do not realize that this “borrowing” involves the Treasury issuing securities, essentially IOU’s, and selling them at public auction. Usually the securities are bought by agents of private banks that regularly participate in these auctions to coordinate actions between the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Bank (the Fed). The private purchasers of the securities turn around and offer them for sale to the Federal Reserve bank, which comes along and buys them with money it creates out of thin air. This is the way a fiat money system works under a sovereign government. And we have had a fiat money system since President Nixon took the dollar off of gold in 1971, because there was not enough gold to expand the money supply needed to conduct the War on Poverty and the Viet Nam War. In fact the French were reducing our gold supply by exchanging their dollars for gold.
    So, now the Fed holds these securities, these IOU’s. And everyone believes taxpayers must provide their tax money to buy them back. Further, the federal national debt at the Fed is just the accumulated value of Treasury securities not redeemed, equal to the unpaid-for deficit spending since 1834 when Pres. Andrew Jackson last paid off the national debt. And how does the Treasury keep this debt going and growing?
    It just rolls-over the debt by issuing more securities (borrowing) to replace old securities with new. So, in theory we can go on forever rolling over the old debt with new debt. And you, naturally, get anxious because the debt is getting bigger and bigger. And there is a real problem that the interest on the national debt is getting bigger and bigger (much to the delight of the private banks behind the Federal Reserve, who get about 6% of that interest before it is returned to the Treasury. Nowadays they get about $8Billion dollars in interest or more each year tax free. Now there are a couple of problems with the idea that the Treasury and the taxpayers have to come up with the money to buy back the securities. If they do, they will have to take all of their savings, all of their current cash on hand, all of their bonds and turn them into cash to do this. And there will be no more money in circulation. Because all of that money came from deficit spending as new money at some point and constitutes the national debt. A program of paying off the national debt with taxpayer money would cause a depression. Where do you think money comes from? China? No, even the Chinese know it comes from our government, because they are willing to purchase bonds as a way to stash extra dollars safely in the Federal Reserve bank. And because the Fed is exercising a power only granted to Congress by the Constitution, the power to coin money, when it creates money out of thin air, a case could be made that the Fed has already, automatically redeemed the securities when it bought them from the private purchasers of them, and so there is no debt. The government has already bought them through the agency of the Fed, using powers delegated by Congress when it created the Fed. If that doesn’t rid us of the debt, the Secretary of the Treasury, and either Congress or the President, can exercise powers already granted by congress to mint a platinum bullion coin in any denomination and any quantity and deposit it/them at the Fed in a special account. Suppose the coin is a $10 Trillion coin. And we deposit 10 of them at the Fed. $100 Trillion. The Fed has to create the money to credit that account, It does so by simply entering $100 Trillion in its spreadsheet entry for the account. The Treasury then withdraws from this account whatever amount is needed to buy back all of the securities plus interest, and buys them back.
    The national debt is gone. No taxpayer money was needed to do this. No need to draw from savings to do this. And no inflation, because none of the money exchanged between Treasury and Fed goes into general circulation chasing goods and services and driving up prices. The ability to create money out of thin air by the Fed is also used by the Treasury to mint the coins, and the coins cancel the money owed created by the Fed out of thin air to buy them.
    So, it’s not just the Tea Party followers who have these “flat Earth” notions about our money supply. Most Democrats have them too, including the President, who has heard of Modern Monetary Theory which the current essay is based on. But when Galileo came up with evidence against the flat Earth, he was initially ridiculed and imprisoned. And perhaps many will ridicule the account of the fiat money system we already have described. But the national debt, deficit spending, are not ultimately problems. We cannot become insolvent, because our government can create any money it needs to pay off debts. This is not to say that a fiat money system has no risk of inflation. That is its most serious danger. But we have not had hyperinflation since 1971, because the Fed has ways of selling bonds to soak up excess money in circulation, and we can seek budget surpluses by raising more taxes than spending, during the inflation. So, there are ways to counter inflation in our system. But that is another topic.

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