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Home/Daniel Larison/Conservatives Are Being Taken For a Ride By Romney, and They Don’t Care

Conservatives Are Being Taken For a Ride By Romney, and They Don’t Care

Michael Walsh says a lot of overwrought things in this post, but this may be my favorite:

A vote for Romney tomorrow is a vote for a restoration of the old Jacksonian — Andrew, that is — Democratic party, a true populist party shorn of its Communist accretions that is every bit as all-American as the other guys.

This is complete nonsense. Whatever one thinks of the modern Democratic Party, a Romney victory will not result in the return of the Democratic Party of long ago. Insofar as a Romney win would make the Democrats more openly populist in their politics, it would not be something that Walsh finds satisfactory. It probably would make it a party more receptive to the arguments of Sherrod Brown and Elizabeth Warren. I suspect that is not what Walsh has in mind. On the whole, the Democrats will continue as they have been, and a Romney victory isn’t going to change that. Supporting Romney because of a fantasy that it will transform the other party in some way is a mistake. It won’t pay off.

What we do know is that a vote for Romney is a major defeat of populist politics inside the GOP. He is the embodiment of everything that conservative populists claim to dislike about the current political class. Whatever conservative populists have tried to promote in the last twenty or thirty years, Romney has typically been against it before he was for it, and even once he is for the things that some conservative populists want there is no reason to believe that he will do anything to advance their preferred policies. Even now, he is often on the side of those in the Republican Party that wish that conservative populists didn’t exist.

Romney has never stood for the “rollback of the federal leviathan.” He wouldn’t even know why that would be desirable, and he wouldn’t pay lip service to it until someone told him that it might gain him a few votes. On the contrary, he has represented everything in the GOP that favors its continued, gradual expansion, and he will continue to do so should he be elected to office. Conservatives are obviously being taken for a ride by Romney, who will end up doing very little that they want and will frequently abuse their trust. The amazing thing is that their antipathy to Obama is so great that most of them long ago ceased to care.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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