Vail Daily columnist Richard Carnes: Paul Ryan a great choice … for Obama |

Vail Daily columnist Richard Carnes: Paul Ryan a great choice … for Obama

If anything, Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as a running mate solidifies the direction for what used to be called the Grand Old Party. Sure, we still have a two-party system, but now it’s just the Democrats and the tea party.

The problem is, the TP pretty much already has the older-than-50 white male vote locked up, but that’s about it.

And that is why the Obama camp is so overjoyed by this pick. Romney already had that particular segment in his back pocket, not because they agreed with him but because he is not Obama.

Ryan simply cemented the tea party base but does absolutely nothing to grab the independent vote from seniors, Hispanics, blacks, gays, teachers, college students, veterans, non-Catholics, union workers and women.

You know, the rest of the potential voters.

It’s not exactly what I’d call pulling a Palin, but now the Democrats have not one but two overly privileged slices of white bread to attack. If this is truly the ideological direction of the GOP, it would have been better off supporting a ticket of Gingrich-Palin, as that would have eliminated all doubt.

But there is no point in going from town to town repeating all the clap-easy catch-phrases of the moment (“Obama-loney,” “traditional family values,” “voter fraud,” etc.). It does not garner a single new vote and only makes them look like a set of twin puppets for Grover Norquist.

The polarization has already been accomplished, and sticking to that narrative does nothing to appeal to independents.

But what bothers me the most, personally, is that although I agree with his ideas about cutting back government spending, the man appears to be an intellectual lightweight who gets his main philosophical underpinning from a work of fiction.

Ayn Rand was OK reading for her day, but eventually Atlas shrugged along with most of today’s respected economists.

It just doesn’t work in the world of reality.

And then, just when I briefly thought the guy might have a slight chance at respectability with his spending cuts, he had to go and say, “Our rights come from nature and God, not from government,” in reference to Americans.

Well, that just blew the whole thing for Happy Valley’s most outspoken (at least in this publication) nontheist.

If such an asinine demagogue statement held any water, then why is it so incredibly easy for a government to take rights away, and why do the people living under different governments have different rights?

Sure, government does not give us rights, as it is established to protect our already existing rights, but in reality, those are merely the privileges that people claim for themselves, and they are only as effective as people’s ability to defend them.

Yet in a democratic society, rights are defined by a consensus of the people, and without government (or some societal structure with enforcement properties), the entire concept of rights does not even exist.

To claim rights are provided by Mother Nature or Father Christmas is as stupid as saying you were provided the right to read this newspaper on the basis of it being published.

Anyway, the guy lost me with that one. I’m sure we’ll be discussing him plenty over the next 100 days either way, but the last thing this country needs is another religious crusader intent on shoving his version of magic down everyone else’s throat.

We need leaders based in the real world, and although I disagree with Obama and Co. on most issues, if the GOP continues to head in a theocratic direction, it can kiss my support goodbye.

Richard Carnes, of Edwards, writes weekly. He can be reached at

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