The first case—Obama triumphant—obviously makes it easiest to imagine America doing what it takes to restore full employment. In effect, the Obama administration would get an opportunity at a do-over, taking the strong steps it failed to take in 2009. Since Obama is unlikely to have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, taking these strong steps would require making use of reconciliation, the procedure that the Democrats used to pass health care reform and that Bush used to pass both of his tax cuts. So be it. If nervous advisers warn about the political fallout, Obama should remember the hard-learned lesson of his first term: the best economic strategy from a political point of view is the one that delivers tangible progress.
A Romney victory would naturally create a very different situation; if Romney adhered to Republican orthodoxy, he would of course reject any government action along the lines I’ve advocated. It’s not clear, however, whether Romney believes any of the things he is currently saying. His two chief economic advisers, Harvard’s N. Gregory Mankiw and Columbia’s Glenn Hubbard, are committed Republicans but also quite Keynesian in their views about macroeconomics. Indeed, early in the crisis Mankiw argued for a sharp rise in the Fed’s target for inflation, a proposal that was and is anathema to most of his party. His proposal caused the predictable uproar, and he went silent on the issue. But we can at least hope that Romney’s inner circle holds views that are much more realistic than anything the candidate says in his speeches, and that once in office he would rip off his mask, revealing his true pragmatic, Keynesian nature.
We have, to roughly quote Vox Day, a bi-factional ruling party, wherein the only difference between the factions is that one wants huge government and the other one wants giant government. That is, the difference is a matter of degree, not kind. Both sides are Keynesians, both sides will continue to extend and pretend until the system collapses, both sides are anti-liberty, both sides will ignore the constitution, both sides are corrupt, both sides will be ineffectual. There is no difference between the two “sides.” They are simply sideshows meant to distract the easily-fooled masses, and thus cause them to ignore the fact that democracy is dead. This false sense of choice causes the masses to spend their time and energy picking sides, which is a perniciously clever way of reinforcing support for a statist system. Basically, everyone who gets caught up in politics gets so caught up in supporting certain parties that they don’t even realize that by the mere act of voting they are simply casting a vote for bigger government and a more intrusive state. The silly fools think their votes matter.
Furthermore, I see no point in voting in this election if Romney wins the GOP nomination, because it’s not like there is actually going to be a difference Romney and Obama. They are one and the same, albeit with different skin colors. They are both statists with strong desires for power. They lack the humility to see that they (and, by extension, government) cannot fix the problems currently facing the nations. They both have a pretense of knowledge, and voting for one is no different than voting for the other. The only way to have real choice in this election is for Ron Paul to get the nomination. But if there were a real choice, how could the bi-factional ruling party stay in power?