Divided Government and the Presidential Race

In a symposium on Culture11, I try to imagine what the candidates might say in an alternate universe where the election turned on convincing cynical libertarians with a penchant for gridlock. Here’s McCain:

McCain: My friends, let’s be honest here. It looks like we may be about to rerun the 70s: another era of stagnation and imperial decline. If we’re lucky, we’ll get some good movies out of the deal. You’ve seen what unified government can do in the hands of a nominally small government party. Elect my opponent, and you ain’t seen nothing yet. We’re entering an era of limits, where restraint is necessary. In the postwar era, unified governments have spent more than three times as fast as divided ones. And if you want divided government, I’m the only game in town. I like to compare myself to Teddy Roosevelt. But after eight years of National Greatness Conservatism run rampant, you don’t want — and the country can’t afford — a loudmouthed bellicose crusader who thinks war is a wonderful tonic for whatever ails the national spirit. In this era, the veto pen will be mightier — and more important — than the sword. And whatever glory can come from the office will be found in standing athwart the rising tide of Democratic “reform”, yelling “stop!” So my promise to you is that if elected, I’ll put aside my dreams of presidential greatness and serve a cause greater than my self interest. At one point, I longed to be another TR. But if you elect me, I promise that I’ll be another Gerry Ford.

Hey, it’s a thought experiment. I’m not saying I believe it.

Posted on Oct 15, 2008 in Uncategorized | Comments

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