On a campaign swing last week, Mitt Romney offered to voters a clear comparison between him and President Barack Obama. “If you’re looking for free stuff you don’t have to pay for, vote for the other guy,” Romney told a young woman who told him that free contraception would make her happy.
Want free stuff, vote for the other guy, that’s the theme of this year’s presidential campaign. The president and his campaign are stoking envy politics. There is no serious effort to restrain deficits and huge spending. The president’s own budget calls for trillion dollar-plus annual deficits through his administration. If the president can convince enough voters that they are entitled to “free stuff,” he’ll win re-election. If the administration is successful with its explode-the-deficits-for-votes strategy, it may be impossible to implement future spending reforms without having to deal with protests of the type that are occurring in Greece.
Romney is going to be the Republican challenger to President Barack Obama. The campaign will go on, Rick Santorum will win a primary or two, Newt Gingrich will growl, and Ron Paul will pop up in the news, but Romney is the GOP guy. The task for Romney is persuading millions of independents who voted for Obama in 2008 to switch to him. How these independents respond to the huge deficits, and Obama’s embrace of the spending, will be interesting. If they like the “free stuff,” Democrats know what to continue to give voters. If these independents’ sense of self respect and self reliance is offended by the budget shortfall and its future consequences, Romney will be elected with a mandate to stop the insane spending.