If you listen to the pundits, the 2012 election represents a referendum on “the fundamental role of government” (see this from one of my more favorite conservative publications, for example; Google the phrase itself and you will get thousands of hits). On one side, we have the Obama administration, which wants more taxes, more spending, more regulation, and more government interference in every aspect of your life. On the other side, we have Republicans who espouse less government, less taxes, less spending, fewer regulations, and a return to the good old days of what made America great. It’s a neat little narrative, all tied up in a bow, that’s easy for people to understand.
Except that’s not quite how would put it. This election is important (every one is, of course), but I wouldn’t say that it represents competing visions of the government’s role in our lives. Instead, this election is about different views of reality. On one side, we have a team that tries to work within the framework of the possible and the realistic, making hard decisions that sometimes make people mad, but have some greater goal in mind. On the other side, we have a team that sells empty platitudes that have little bearing on reality, that simply endeavor to tell voters what they think they want to hear without having a plan to back it up. Truly, we have a difference not based on the fundamental role of government, but the fundamental role of reality.
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