Monday, November 5, 2012

So there is an election tomorrow?

I just haven't been able to summon up any interest in the election in the last week, and changed the channel when the national media talked about it. But the day is now at hand.

The RCP average has Obama at 47.8%, Romney at 47.4%, so far within the margin of error. Pennsylvania might even be in play.

Michael Barone is calling a big Romney win in the electoral college, 315 to 223. I have a lot of regard for his knowledge and feel, as the Editor of the Almanac of American Politics. On the other hand, Intrade is pricing a 67.6% chance for Obama, and prediction markets as a rule tend to be slightly more accurate than polls.

It comes down to the vagaries of likely voter adjustments in the polls and turnout. It is going to be a very exciting Tuesday night.

One vote against the left

I'm going to - reluctantly - vote Romney, even though I'm not particularly enthused by him. The main reason is I detest and distrust the hard left, and the preachy zealotry and bigotry they display. Every time they indulge in shrill name-calling, or trying to trying to reduce everything to vague anti-intellectual emotions - "hate", "fear", "greed", they just turn me off.

I think many on the left simply don't see potential problems with their polices, and this makes progressive change far more difficult. I said in a previous post about Jonathan Haidt's studies of what makes people conservative or liberal:

So I think the main reason I'm a registered independent with a rightward tilt, rather than a liberal, is because I think moral capital is important. I think you can better achieve liberal goals by controlling downside risks, rather than ignoring them. I want change, but pragmatic change that works in practice and delivers better lives to people, not a romantic dream which turns into darkness.

Moral capital, in Haidt's definition, is the resources that sustain a community - that restrain selfishness and free-riding and help people pursue common goals. It is the things that make cooperative behavior possible, which liberals often fail to see or just assume will be in place. Intentions are not enough. Outcomes matter. And that makes me more socially conservative.

On economic issues, I could accept a Clinton-style economic policy. I have no sympathy for the libertarian aspects of the GOP. I think tax is a matter of technical advantage rather than a zero-sum distributional struggle, however. It is more complicated than many believe. It is a matter of dynamics , rather than comparative statics (i'll discuss that in more detail in a coming post) so that sometimes tax cuts can increase the capital stock, productivity and hence growth and income. Tax is more than simply distribution of an existing pie, but the size of the pie in the future.

I'm also fairly fiscally conservative, and think current entitlements are largely a way to transfer income from poor working families to richer older Americans. Medical costs are unsustainable. We need massive entitlement reform.

Ultimately I will vote against the left, rather than positively for Romney, because I think the left is the opposite of the things it likes to claim -I.e diverse, tolerant, open-minded. I see it as shrill, hateful towards those who have a different view, and deeply tribal and sectarian and racist in outlook. It has a deeply inadequate conception of "fairness" and "justice" and "equality" as all meaning essentially the same thing.

Leftwingers generally don't talk to conservatives about ideas, but demonize them in adolescent ways. I see the left as much more zealously dangerous than the tea party ever would be. Because the left controls so much of the universities and mainstream media and major corporations, it is a much more present danger.

Obama himself seems intelligent and capable. But he enables the liberal left. When they talk about "forward", I think of the Great Leap Forward. And you should really look before you leap. More spending won't really help the poor so much as the teachers' unions and rich retirees.

Progressive intentions and narrow notions of "fairness" can produce catastrophe, if everything is just a moralized drama of helping the "vulnerable" or hastening the irresistable march of history.

Shrill screaming romanticism and closed-mindedness is the last thing we need, and that's how I see the partisan left. Obama may be cool-minded and pragmatic, but he turned domestic policy over to Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank and Charlie Rangel in practice. And he will be beholden to the gay lobby and La Raza and union pension plans and the whole outdated "blue" model.

In any case, G is going to vote for Obama, so we will cancel each other out. And it won't make one iota of difference to New York going for Obama regardless of what we do.


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