I can't think of any other VP pick in history who has ever made the activists on both sides of the political divide so immediately ecstatic. Most VP picks are snoozers picked to balance the ticket geographically or demographically. Some are unknowns like Palin was last time, and/or like Palin and Quayle quickly become seen as duds that weigh down the ticket. But the Ryan pick instantly electrifies and clarifies the political dynamic for both movement conservatives and movement progressives. It is the dream ticket for both sides- but in the end I think it will be a dream for us Democrats and a nightmare for the Republicans.
At the top of the ticket you have Mr. 1%, the Wall Street tycoon poster child whose brutal brand of corporate ethics made him wealthy beyond his dreams while laying off workers, cutting benefits, pioneering out-sourcing, and bankrupting companies. And as his number 2, you have the ultimate cheerleader and intellectual wunderkind for this style of Ayn Randian capitalism. Paul Ryan, whose open worship of Rand (his inspiration for getting into politics) will be a major discussion in this campaign, crafted the ultimate budget document for rewarding the Romneys of the world and punishing everyone else, and Romney rewarded him with the VP pick.
Romney's strategy will be to use Ryan to try and make this campaign about the federal debt, but don't be fooled: the Ryan budget doesn't project actually balancing the budget until 2040, and then only with wildly optimistic economic growth projections that no economist with a straight face could back up. Yes, he radically slashes the budget in Medicare, Medicaid, education spending, services for the poor and disabled, and other domestic spending- but his spending cuts are basically just given to the wealthiest people in America, the Romneys of the world, in the form of tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires as deep as his radical spending cuts.
The Ryan budget, which Romney has enthusiastically endorsed, is the ultimate fantasy of the far right and the extremist followers of Rand. It has virtually every cut and tax cut for millionaires ever proposed by right wing think tanks over the last 20 years in programs for the middle class and poor; it ends the guarantees of health and nursing home coverage for seniors and those with disabilities in Medicare and Medicaid; it completely deregulates Wall Street, health insurers, and oil and coal companies while keeping all their tax loopholes; it dramatically increases defense spending far beyond what even those in the Pentagon have been calling for, giving a massive benefit to defense contractors; it will, according to Brookings and every other analysis of the Ryan budget done, will force taxes on the middle class and the poor to rise in order to meet their deficit targets.
This budget is the ultimate document for making people like Mitt Romney and his wealthy benefactors like the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson and all those Wall Street bankers far richer while at the same time cutting the heart out of the things everyone else in our society benefits from. Our elderly parents will have to move in with us; our children will be going to devastated schools, and their student loans to go to college decimated; our kids with disabilities will have the programs to help them slashed; our air and water will get dirtier and dirtier; and the Too Big To Fail banks will have no one watching over them. All of this so that millionaires and billionaires can get larger tax cuts than even George W. Bush gave them.
The Romney-Ryan budget could just as easily be called the Ayn Rand budget, because it does everything Rand dreamed of. She proclaimed selfishness as the ultimate virtue, and said that Christian charity and compassion was evil and weakened society. She rejected the idea of the Golden Rule and that we are to be our brother's and sister's keeper. She glorified the wealthy as the only ones who mattered in society, the only ones who weren't leeches and failures. This is her budget, the budget that she inspired Paul Ryan to write. Bain Capital was her kind of company, where the wealthy and well-connected did whatever it took, ran over whoever it took, to be successful. If there is an afterlife with a heaven and a hell, I think it is quite likely she is being tormented in hell, but even so she would have to be looking up and glorying in this selection today. The founder of Bain Capital and the author of the Ryan budget as the Republican nominees for President and VP: this is Ayn Rand's moment.
This is the dream ticket for Democrats and progressives. They have given us the ultimate chance to make our case as to why the Wall Street ethics of Bain and the ultimate suck-up-to-the-rich budget of Ryan are fundamentally wrong for America. This is not a debate about how we cut the federal deficit, as many Democrats have far more realistic and responsible plans to do that. This campaign instead is about the ultimate debate in values and morality and what will benefit the future of the vast majority of Americans more. If we preach the historic values that made this country great -- our beloved communities, our belief that we are all in this together and that we rise or fall as one people, our belief that our policies should be oriented toward making the middle class prosperous and growing, our belief in the Golden Rule and government of,by, and for the people -- we will win this debate and this campaign. The values of Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and Ayn Rand will not prevail if we make our case without fear and equivocation to the American public.