Romney’s Ryan play to the core will only work if the Republicans can suppress enough votes

For those who have trouble telling Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor apart, Ryan is the thin one with the angular jaw, full head of hair and arrogant demeanor.

I guess that didn’t help much.

All kidding aside, Mitt Romney’s selection of Wisconsin representative Paul Ryan as his running mate is, to state the obvious, another play to the right. It’s now clear that those who thought that Romney would “reset” and move to the “kinder, gentler” center once he won the nomination were wrong. Whatever Romney’s stands were in the past, he now represents the rightwing that has become the Republican Party’s core constituency.

The question of course is why would Romney still be playing to the rightwing instead of trying to snap up independent voters by tacking to the center with another VP selection? Why would he select as his vice president the poster child for the calls to end Medicare?

The common thought is that Romney is still trying to win over the extreme right that still distrusts him because of his previous more moderate stand on key issues. But I’ve come to believe that from the start, Romney and the Republican Party have had a two-prong strategy. One prong is to energize the rightwing base to vote and the other is to suppress the votes of those outside the base by passing and enforcing laws at the state level that make it harder to vote.  Plenty has been written about each strategy by itself but no one seems to have noted that the two strategies work hand in glove and could synergize to yield a Republican victory.

On the national level, the math seems as wrong as the immoral imperative to subvert democracy by preventing people from voting: common sense would suggest that there are many more independent voters that Romney is turning off with his bows to the rights than there are poor, minority and student voters shut out of voting by new rules and de facto poll taxes in Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Ohio and elsewhere. But the math might very well work in a handful of swing states, and that’s where the election will be decided.

Might work, but I don’t think it will, and Paul Ryan is the reason why. He wants to gut Medicare, taking $750 billion in federal funding from the program and turning it into a voucher system. After the Democrats hammer the airwaves with Ryan’s Medicare plan, Romney’s standing is bound to drop among independents. Ryan also gives core Democrats, many of whom are a bit disappointed in Obama, another reason to vote. Republican lies about death panels and government takeovers may have made many Americans distrust the Affordable Care Act. But study after study shows that Americans love Medicare just the way it is.

The combination of supporting lower taxes for the wealthy while gutting Medicare will prove deadly to the Republicans.  There are just not enough Democrats whom they can keep from voting to offset the independents who will be turned off by Ryan’s Medicare stand.

Changing the subject: I’ve been meaning to mention that Professors Richard l. Zweigenhaft and G. William Domhoff recently updated their seminal essay on diversity among chief executive officers. Zweigenhaft and Domhoff find that while there is greater racial and sexual diversity among the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, the overwhelming majority of them still come from an upper middle class or wealthy background (except among African-American CEOs). The implication of the article is that while we may have a more diverse society, there is still little social mobility (movement between economic classes). It’s a fascinating article!

 

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