Wednesday, May 18, 2011
In Which I Declare My Candidacy for President of the United States
Q: Who the hell are you?
A: I’m a middle-aged white guy with a wife, two kids, a dog, and a house with a white picket fence. (Seriously!) I have a birth certificate showing I was born in the USA, and I meet the height requirement.
Q: Okay, but how about a name? A picture?
D: If there’s one thing I’ve learned from reality shows, it’s that Americans love the “big reveal.” They’ll get it at the inauguration.
Q: Why run as a Republican?
A: Because there are no plausible candidates in the Republican party, and nobody running as a true conservative.
Q: But aren’t you a bleeding heart liberal?
A: I’m a true conservative. I believe in conserving the best traditions and institutions of our country. I believe in maintaining public education, public services, Social Security, and a sustainable health care system and military. These are all under attack by people who falsely claim the mantle of ‘conservative.’ Conservatives conserve; it’s what they do. I will conserve the best of what America has been and done. I propose to take our tax structure back to the days of Republican President Dwight Eisenhower, who knew a thing or two about protecting American institutions from threats.
Q: Sustainable health care system? You mean like vouchers?
A: I mean like single-payer. Get the marketing and cost-shifting out of there, and get our costs down to those of other advanced countries. Making health care a right of citizenship would make it easier for people to start their own businesses, since they wouldn’t have to worry about losing their health insurance. Small business are the heart of the economy, you know. Main Street and whatnot.
Q: But what about God, guns, and gays?
A: What about them? I believe in the uncoerced exercise of religion, and the uncoerced freedom from it, just like Thomas Jefferson. I believe in well-regulated militias, and I will not hesitate to regulate them accordingly. As for gays, I believe in the proud American traditions of civil rights and integration.
Q: What about a strong defense?
A: I reclaim the proud conservative tradition of skepticism towards military adventurism. This is the tradition of Robert Taft and the younger Bob Dole. Anyone who truly cares about maintaining a sustainable military will not squander blood and treasure on wars of choice.
Q: You still sound like a lefty.
A: That’s because political conversation in America is so plutocratic that we’ve lost our bearings. A true conservative is not a plutocrat, since wealth is so fluid; a true conservative maintains the underlying structure of things, the better to allow people to find their own ways. A true conservative understands the dangers of forcing utopias, and the folly of impulsiveness. Better to get the rules right and stick with them.
Q: But are you a viable candidate?
A: Have you seen the field? At this point, it’s basically me and Tim Pawlenty, and that’s just sad. Besides, I’ve got plenty of Republican bona fides. I’m a balding middle-aged heterosexual white guy who thinks Sarah Palin is kinda hot. I’ll fit right in!
Q: Do you have any electoral experience?
A: Nope. I can run as an outsider! They love that stuff.
Q: What political base do you bring?
A: Well, there’s no polite way to say this, but the Republican party has become a non-factor at the national level in the Northeast. You just can’t do that NASCAR crap around here and get taken seriously. I could bring the Northeast back into the fold! I speak “academic,” and don’t have even the slightest trace of a Southern accent.
Q: What about the South?
A: What are they gonna do, vote Democratic? Puh-leeeze. Landslide time!
Q: Any thoughts on a running mate?
A: I’m thinking of asking Lesboprof to join me. She’d bring good geographic and gender balance to the ticket, and she’s funny as hell. And talk about conservative! She and her partner have been together for decades! Besides, we’d have a mortal lock on the long-neglected “Jewish lesbian” vote.
Q: Well, good luck with that.
A: Hey, it’s a better idea than President Romney.
--DD is not a replicant or android, so he's ahead of Romney.
--DD is on his first marriage, and his personal life is spotless, so he's ahead of Gingrich.
--DD can name the newspapers he reads, so he's ahead of Palin.
--DD's hair is only a little goofy looking, so he's ahead of Trump.
I look forward to seeing him portrayed on SNL by Tina Fey.
I'll cheerfully give you the Eisenhower tax regime if you'll give me the Eisenhower health care delivery system. Your advocacy of single payer is at odds with your disclaiming "forcing utopias."
Despite the 90% top marginal rate of the Eisenhower era, so beloved by liberals, the federal share of GDP was not higher then than it was under Bush before the recession. The top 5% of taxpayers pay a larger share of gross federal revenue now than they did then, so today's system is more progressive in practice, even if the top rates are lower. The 90% rate encouraged tax shelters that provided no economic benefit except to the tax lawyers and accountants who devised them. A better approach would reward economic growth. If you believe economic growth is a good thing, that is.
What you probably really want is for the spread between the top and bottom of the income cohorts to be smaller, as in the 1950s. Frankly, I'd like that also. But that's not a tax issue, that goes to structural changes in our economy.
Although I wouldn't point so quickly to single payer healthcare as the fix-all for our healthcare crisis. There are other countries that do not have single payer that do a pretty great job (Germany, for example) and there are single payer systems that leave anyone with a chronic condition in the limbo of long lines, uncertain coverage, etc. (England, for example).
I've done research in several countries on the various intricacies of different healthcare systems and it's not quite so simple as "single payer fixes all problems." You just get different problems. As long as we continue to cover ever increasing options for treatment for all conditions, and we don't raise taxes or find another way to pay for said coverage, and we don't incentivize the right behaviors for actually keeping people healthy, healthcare will bankrupt us.
But who, in the moment, wants to give up their chance to get their potentially life-saving treatment? Exactly. Not that I think our current system is working all that great, for those unlucky enough not to have great employer-provided benefits. Obama's legislation is a step in the right direction, at least.
However, if you ran on the republican ticket, and I had to vote Republican, I'd definitely vote for you.
The myth is that there is a conservative philosophy. The actuality is that conservatives are conservative. They believe in authority and hierarchy and helping the big man against the little man.