Paul Ryan as Vice President Means More Trouble for Mitt Romney in 2012

Back in the 2008 campaign, I was stunned by the change in John McCain. He had empathy and compassion, and even when he had strong viewpoints that clashed with my own, his reasons were well thought out. Overall he impressed me as a strong possible contender on the Republican ticket.

Then things changed. They changed a lot. McCain began backpedaling on positions he had previously supported in order to line up with the party platform. His explanations for his changes in view were weak at best, and on camera he looked visibly uncomfortable presenting them. What had happened to the John McCain that I thought would give Barack Obama a run for his money?

When he named Sarah Palin as his running mate, all I could think was that he was exhausted by the playacting and would do anything to get out of the obligation of being a puppet of his party for four years – he chose her to make himself as unelectable as possible. It was painful to watch his public appearances with her. His words, his facial expression, his body language, all seemed to reinforce the impression that he was excruciatingly uncomfortable with the whole situation.

So is Romney doing the same thing? Is he trying to salvage some political credibility by choosing a running mate who is so reviled that his loss in November can be credited to his VP pick? I don’t know if we’ll ever find out for certain. The pattern, though, seems oddly familiar.

Romney has always been a little stiff. That makes it harder to discern how uncomfortable he is with the new set of values he’s been assigned. The very fact that he dissembles so poorly, and blatantly contradicts statements he made even up to the point that he began his run for the nomination seems to point to party manipulation. As a politician, he needs to lie. As a person with a strong moral code, there are lies he cannot tell. The conflict he faces here is reflected in the abysmal quality of his lying.

Is it possible that he has realized the depth and breadth of the commitment he will have to make to supporting the inflexible platform of his party at last? Has the stress of defending the indefensible and supporting the insupportable forced him to make the only choice that would allow him to escape with any shred of dignity? I would like to believe this, because even the man he was as governor of Massachusetts might have appealed to me as a voter. The man he is as candidate for POTUS is repellent.

Paul Ryan is well-known for his economic plan, a targeted assault at redistribution of wealth that would negatively impact Americans who have already been hardest hit by the economy. He has a handsome face and lovely blue eyes, and gosh, he sounded so reasonable when he describes it. But then the details came out, and a lot of people realized the impact it would have on them, and the public’s opposition was resounding.

From where I stand, his position on Social Security, with only those over the age of 55 grandfathered in, would mean that all the money my husband and I had contributed over 40 years would be appropriated and used for. . .something else. Instead of having 40 years worth of savings to help us get by when we became too old to work, we would have about 10 years’ worth. We simply could not see how we could save for retirement in ten years, especially since we would be paying college tuition for eight of those.

To replace this, he advocated a voluntary plan that would allow individuals to invest in the stock market. Well, my husband works for a small business and has no retirement benefits besides his personal payments towards a 401K. That 401K was invested in (wait for it. . .) the stock market.  As a result, our 401K is now worth a third of what it was. So on top of our Social Security money being taken away, we would have the “choice” of saving for retirement through a plan that has already taken away several hundred thousand dollars from us.

In addition, he proposed eliminating Medicare, and replacing it with a voucher for private insurance.  The age for eligibility would increase to 67.  I’m not sure how many of you out there have to pay for your own medical insurance, or pay a large amount of out of pocket expenses for things your insurance doesn’t cover, but let me tell you – the $8,000 isn’t going to cover it.  Coverage for our family of four is close to $3,000 a month, doctor visits are $40 a pop, which adds up when you start needing to see orthopedists and surgeons and endocrinologists, and prescriptions are $70 each. 

I’m also not sure how many of you are caring for aging relatives, but I am.  \When you’ve spent enough time in the emergency room, or caring for your parent with dementia while your other parent recovers from necessary surgery, see their struggles trying to fight the insurance companies for coverage they’re supposed to have, and deciphering medical bills with failing eyes and slowing minds, you’re all too aware of the needs of the elderly. You may also have witnessed the reality of age-related disability that occurs well before the age of 67.

Ryan’s plan would have removed much of the care seniors absolutely require from the subsidized insurance plan, and put it into the hands of Pasteurized Process American State Medicaid Food Product. Their level of care would be subject to the vagaries of state legislation. Their amount of care would not be based on need, but on available funds. The process of getting care and paying for it would be insurmountably difficult for many. 

Right now, the demographic of Republican voters is pretty predominantly older. Those who would not be affected by Ryan’s policy have children who would be. Regardless of their level of altruism in general, they’re going to be thinking of the welfare of their loved ones. When “The Path to Prosperity” was unveiled, there was backlash from these Republican voters from all over the country. Despite the carrots on a stick dangled in front of seniors immune to the cuts, everyone who cared about their loved ones who’d be hit realized this “prosperity” would not benefit them.

The resistance, surprisingly, made an impact on Republicans, and their save-face voting tactics allowed them to not support it without actually being on record as not supporting it.  Romney’s not a stupid man – he’s got to know that this is electoral poison. Has he chosen his running mate to free himself from his party’s geas? Is he deliberately throwing the race? I can’t say with authority, but that’s what it looks like to me.