The Magazine

Obama’s Ennui

And Romney’s achievement.

Oct 15, 2012, Vol. 18, No. 05 • By HARVEY MANSFIELD
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Romney looked confident in himself and in growth, and consequently in the prospects of America. This is not logic, but it’s politics. Government has a role different from Obama’s view. Its purpose is not to “cut out the middleman” so as to provide fairness to the people (as Obama boasted he had done in putting government in charge of student loans), but to foster growth. Growth means growth in jobs more than in wealth, because growth redistributes wealth through jobs, in which people earn their checks for themselves rather than wait for them to come in the mail. Government does not really cut out the middleman; it becomes the middleman. Romney was willing to guess that the private sector would be less costly than the government. This is not the antigovernment animus of the Tea Party, but it aims at the same goal with greater effect because it can reasonably claim to be bipartisan. With the same stroke Romney gave his party a considerable boost.

Harvey Mansfield is professor of government at Harvard and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.


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