Thank goodness the tedious presidential campaign is over. It was enough to put a caffeine freak into a coma. If all you cared about was the horse race, you missed how anemic the past year was. Rhetoric aside, the differences between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were virtually inconsequential; big government was never in doubt. That being the case, Obama’s four-year record went largely unexamined.
But didn’t Romney spend the last year blasting Obama’s record? Superficially, yes. But that’s all.
The American people reelected a president (barely) without a full airing of how he spent his first term. This does not bode well for the next four years and beyond.
Romney couldn’t call Obama to account because he fundamentally agreed with most of what the president did. He could hardly have substantively criticized Obama’s fiscal record: Romney had little specific to say about cutting the government’s deep-in-deficit budget, and he even proposed to leave education and other federal spending intact. While Romney talked about cutting income-tax rates, he emphasized that he had no intention of cutting government revenues, which represent resources extracted from the private economy. He proposed only revenue-neutral tax “reform.”
So get a grip, Republicans: Our republican experiment in self-government didn’t die last week. But a useful message has been sent to a party that spent too much of the past four years listening intently to echoes of itself. Change the channel for a little while.