Amy Walter at ABC News calls this election "an ideological battle that voters don't want." Both sides, she says, are eager to characterize the election as a contest about the proper role of government.
In picking Rep. Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney assured an ideological campaign where a debate over the role of government will be front and center. It is a debate the Obama campaign and partisans on both sides are also eager to have.I beg to differ. I believe this election is specifically about the role of government. If it's about "function" then it's also about "ideology." It's about the way ideology defines function.
...Both President Obama and Mitt Romney argue that this election provides voters with a very stark choice between two competing ideologies. One that says that government can be part of the solution (Obama) and one that says that government is getting in the way of the solution (Romney).
But there are plenty of voters out there who are more concerned about function than ideology. They aren't spending their evenings debating the benefits of Hayek or Keynesian economic models. They are just trying to figure out which candidate is capable of getting something done.
There's an obvious ideological difference in tax policy between the two camps. This is clearly an issue that matters to voters, and it could end up defining the election.
Unemployment is another area where there's a clear ideological difference. Very few voters believe that if we'd just be a lot nicer to big business we'd have more jobs. At the same time, voters aren't all that impressed with Obama's track record on job creation. How the two camps promise to address unemployment could be another decider.
For the Tea Party right, the civil libertarians fighting for personal freedom and clamoring for smaller government, every election is about the role of government.
A century ago, Republican President Theodore "Trust Buster" Roosevelt used the power of government to break up big-business monopolies. He helped the United Mine Workers win their fight for better wages and a more reasonable work week. His administration gave America the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act.
Breaking up big business and instituting effective regulation and oversight brought us the prosperity of the Roaring Twenties. This prosperity, of course, inevitably led to relaxed regulation, ineffective oversight, and the Great Depression. Sound familiar? The prosperity of the 1990's led to deregulation, lax oversight, and the mess we're in now.
The Tea Partiers can't see that government needs to be big enough to keep big business under control. Rather than allowing more personal liberty, smaller government leads to excessive corporate liberty. The smaller the government, the less able it is to defend your liberty from the forces trying to take it away.
For example, big business and its unlimited funds - with a huge assist from Supreme Court rulings saying that money is speech - has already severely limited your right to free political speech. The average citizen figures, "If money is speech, I can't even afford to whisper. So I might as well just sit down and shut up."
I believe it's time for some more old-fashioned Republican trust-busting, more effective government, better regulation and oversight.