Now begins the final phase of this cognitive dissonance campaign. America’s 57th presidential election is the first devoted to calling the nation’s bluff. When Mitt Romney selected Paul Ryan, Republicans undertook the perilous but commendable project of forcing voters to face the fact that they fervently hold flatly incompatible beliefs.
Twice as many Americans identify themselves as conservative as opposed to liberal. On Nov. 6 we will know if they mean it. If they are ideologically conservative but operationally liberal. If they talk like Jeffersonians but want to be governed by Hamiltonians. If their commitment to limited government is rhetorical or actual. If it is, as Daniel Patrick Moynihan suspected, a “civic religion, avowed but not constraining.”
There has to be a tipping point reached sometime when a critical mass of Americans are dependent on or at least used to government's benefits. If that has already been reached, it doesn't really matter what people say they believe. They will choose to keep getting the benefits.
The election this year is as clear a choice between more government and less government as we've had in a long time. (That doesn't mean Romney-Ryan will or can deiliver on their promise, but they do clearly articulate one side of the choice). I'm honestly not sure if Americans want to walk the conservative walk or if they're just talking the talk.