Here’s my prediction for the result of the 2012 Presidential election: The next four years are going to suck.
The polls are about even (heh, even in the pointless Dixville Notch first vote), which partisans on both sides are trying to spin as a win for their side. Some of them may even be right. I don’t know and I don’t care enough to try to figure it out. A day from now we’ll all know. I can wait to find out. The suspense isn’t killing me. I’m not voting for either of them.
On the day Barack Obama was inaugurated, I called it “the highpoint of the Obama Presidency.” It wasn’t really a slam at Obama; I just meant that now that he actually had to do the job he would probably not be able to live up to the dreams and hopes of his supporters. I didn’t realize how prophetic it would turn out to be. Although I expected not to like some of Obama’s economic moves, I was hoping he’d undo some of the Bush administration’s damage to our civil liberties. That turned out to be a foolish dream on my part.
Obama had complained about the excesses of Executive power when he was campaigning, but once all that shiny power was his, he didn’t give up an ounce of it. In fact, he took it up a notch by ordering the murder of an American citizen without a trial. And all those Bush guys we hated…Barack Obama didn’t do a thing to bring them to justice. His Justice Department went after people who leaked stuff about Bush, and his administration is stepping up the war on leakers. Almost everything that was awful about the Bush administration — spying on American citizens, drone strikes, the immigration mess, the war on drugs — has stayed the same or gotten worse under President Obama.
Four years ago, despite my disagreement with some of his policies, I wished Obama well. But after watching his Justice Department support every infringement on our Fourth Amendment rights, after hearing him chuckle at the plight of the victims of the drug war, after finding out about the secret kill lists and the drone strikes against innocents in Pakistan…after all that, I’ve discovered that thinking about the Obama administration’s record makes me surprisingly angry. Another four years of this will not be good for my blood pressure.
That’s not so say I’m hoping for a Romney victory.
Unlike with Obama, I’m not angry at Mitt Romney. Not because I like his policies or think he’s a great guy. He just hasn’t been President yet, so he hasn’t pissed me off. If he wins today, I’m sure he’ll do something about that. Of all the bad things I just mentioned about Obama, I don’t think Romney has ever disagreed with any of them. If anything, he has accused Obama of being soft on those issues. To hear him talk about it, President Romney would give us more drone strikes, more war on drugs, more immigration abuse, and more of a police state.
Since Romney is technically a Republican, and since they are supposedly the party of free market capitalism, it’s possible that a Romney administration might, if we’re lucky, pursue a few economic policies that will improve the economy, such as reducing government spending and burdensome regulations, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up. Cutting government spending is hard, and once Romney is in charge, is he really going to cut his own budget? The last Republican sure didn’t. And if it’s not done right, deregulation is just another form of market distortion to help out political allies.
Romney has also been cozying up to the religious right’s social conservative agenda with his opposition to gay marriage and to birth control and to pornography. He’s made a lot of promises, and if history is any guide, he’ll pay those off before he tries to improve the economy.
Of course, nobody really knows what Romney will do if he wins. He’s famous for changing his positions on issues. He seems to just tell people what they want to hear, even if it’s completely different from what the last group wanted to hear. To a remarkable degree, this doesn’t seem to bother him. It’s as if he has no core beliefs, no center. He’s a hollow man, driven only by personal ambition. Mitt Romney’s vision for America consists solely of the burning idea that he should be in charge of it. If that happens, he could do anything.
So, however it goes today, I’m not going to be happy with the result. Neither of these men loves liberty, and we’ll be stuck with one of them for the next four years.
Oh, and if you read this because you actually wanted to know my prediction for how the election would turn out, here goes: I predict Obama wins, but not by as much of a margin as last time, especially the popular vote. Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio. Probably not Florida.