The Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne wrote on Monday, “In making Ryan his running mate, Mitt Romney guaranteed that this election will be about big principles, but he also underscored a little-noted transformation in American politics: Liberals and conservatives have switched sides on the matter of which camp constitutes the party of theory and which is the party of practice.”
Of course, Dionne goes on to claim that Americans don’t like to vote on theory, they’d rather vote on practice.
“Republicans mock President Obama for still thinking like the professor he once was, yet in this race, Obama — far more than today’s conservative theorists and to the occasional consternation of his more liberal supporters — is the pragmatist,” Dionne says. “He’s talking about messy trade-offs: between taxes and spending, government and the private sector, dreams and the facts on the ground. In embracing Ryan, Romney has tied himself to the world of high conservative ideology.
As liberals learned long ago, ideology usually loses.”
Except, of course, when ideology does win — say, in 2008, when an untested senator swept the election with an unfathomable message of “hope” and “change.”
But don’t bother the left with facts right now. They’re too busy celebrating Romney’s choice — an easy target, they feel, because he advocates austere reforms to entitlement programs and other federal spending.
And the Democrats have already launched an ad in Florida, interviewing people “on the street” about Ryan’s budget specifics.
“As highlighted in the video, seniors in Florida know they can’t afford the cuts to Medicare as proposed in the Romney-[Ryan] budget,” a Democrat press release says.
Of course, those seniors know nothing of the sort. In fact, there is no “Romney-Ryan budget.” There’s a budget authored by Ryan’s congressional committee that does reform Medicare, but it leaves all benefits for current recipients as they are.
(That’s the problem with “man on the street” opinion polls and attack ads; they usually show more conventional ignorance than conventional wisdom. Don’t these guys ever watch Jay Leno?)
But back to ideas. They’re exactly what this election should be about.
Is it the free market, or is it government oversight, ensuring fairness? Do we guarantee equal opportunity, or do we guarantee equal outcomes?
On an even more fundamental level, is America exceptional? If so, how? Is America in a decline that must be managed, or in a temporary rut that can be overcome?
So for now, both sides are in agreement — Rep. Paul Ryan was a great choice for Romney’s vice presidential running mate. They’re celebrating for different reasons, maybe, but they’re celebrating together, at least.
And so they should.