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The Social Contract

Legitimacy. All governments depend on this, even totalitarian ones. None can survive without the sense from the governed that the government is based on some sort of legitimacy, whether it be by force of arms or by popular will. Our system is a combination of the two, with the latter being tightly circumscribed by the media as to what options are available and what issues are on the table. The trouble with the Romney campaign, whether he wins via skullduggery or outright, is that his campaign is based on nothing. Lacking specifics, his government will have little mandate to do anything without arousing the ire of a great many people. Nods and winks to the committed are insufficient when it comes to actually implementing policy where the devil is in the details.

I believe both candidates intend to end Social Security as we know it but, like George Bush, who pulled the issue out of his ass after his “re-election,” Romney will face incredible resistance by Democrats and Republicans alike. After years of balancing the so-called recovery on the backs of ordinary people, demanding further sacrifices from them to benefit the 1% is becoming a cross-party issue. While the difference between the candidates is breathtakingly small, at least Obama has dropped hints of a “grand bargain” (however unpopular) after November.

Romney’s big problem, exacerbated by his secretive, top-down business experience in which legitimacy is totally irrelevant, is that he has no idea how humans really think and behave. His prior limited governing experience of a small, cohesive and well-run state has taught him nothing; his tone deaf utterances would shame Richard Nixon. He truly thinks he just has to give orders and his minions in Congress will do his bidding and the people will simply take it. But a nation is not a market and does not follow the laws of the marketplace. Nor is a nation a corporation condemned to follow its CEO's every fart, even as craven a people as Americans have become. Failing to campaign on anything in particular, a Romney presidency will leave voters feeling ripped off much of the time by anything he does. He has painted himself into a legitimacy corner.

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