His Voice: Clear choices in 2012 election
by Roger Adhikari / Submitted to the Tracy Press
Sep 06, 2012 | 1051 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
By selecting Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate, the Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, has unwittingly provided the American public with a stark choice between the two presidential candidates.

With Ryan as his vice presidential nominee, Romney can no longer speak from both sides of his mouth on an array of issues.

Ryan, an Ayn Rand disciple, made a comment in a 2005 speech that, “I grew up reading Ayn Rand, and it taught me quite a bit about who I am and what my value systems are and what my beliefs are. … It’s inspired me so much that it’s required reading in my office for all my interns and my staff.”

Rand, a Russian-American novelist and objectivist philosopher, believed that every man is for himself in this world. She championed individualism and has become a philosophical lantern-bearer for neoconservatives.

Her philosophy is at odds with almost all social values and existing religions of the world, including Christianity. Most religions believe that the collective good and helping one’s fellow man is not only the right thing to do, but also an expected deed from a person of belief. The Bible is full of verses on helping others, such as, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4).

Ryan’s extreme individualist position is also in contradiction to his Catholic belief. But, then again, most so-called conservatives have a twisted view of what religion is and should be. On the one hand, they are up in arms to give embryos full-blown human status; on the other hand, they oppose any kind of government support to the poor and vulnerable segments of the population. Shouldn’t someone so passionate to save an unborn embryo have compassion for poor, living, breathing fellow countrymen?

Before Ryan came along on his ticket, Romney was careful not to utter anything related to a women’s right to choose. But with Ryan on board and the recent Todd Akin fiasco, the issue is simply unavoidable now, especially when Ryan has been almost a soul mate of Akin, the Missouri congressman, on abortion.

Both are opposed to giving women any power to control their bodies, even in cases of rape and incest, and have sponsored a bill in Congress to prevent just that.

It’s ironic that the party that claims to be on the side of the individual’s rights wants take away women’s right to make decisions about their own bodies.

Romney has flip-flopped on the abortion issue since his days as Massachusetts governor. As a governor of a liberal state, he supported the abortion law; however, Romney the Republican nominee supports it only in cases of rape and incest.

Ryan, by entering the race as No. 2 on the GOP ticket, has also injected the debate of individualism versus the collective good in the fray, which leads to important questions:

Is the role of a government to let survival of the fittest dictate who lives and dies? Or does the government have a responsibility to establish rules and boundaries to create a just and fair society?

Obviously, social Darwinism is not the answer. Because the sole purpose of a government can’t be just to facilitate the rich getting richer. The notion that creating a just society has to stifle individual innovation is also the furthest thing from the truth.

An individual can be rewarded for his or her own personal effort, innovation and sacrifice while nevertheless offering a safety net to those who are in need. That’s a real compassionate conservative idea — a catchy phrase Republicans like to use but that is far from their comprehension.

Most government programs are rooted in the common-good idea, which has served well both this and other nations. Where would the country be if there were no public school, Social Security and Medicare, government programs that have provided peace of mind to millions of Americans?

The words “society,” “community,” “village” and “nation” are deeply rooted in the idea that we are in it together — hardly a socialist idea, as hyperbolized by those on the right. The concept of community is neither socialist nor capitalist; it’s simply humanist.

While Romney has so far avoided giving details on Social Security and Medicare and has offered confusing opinions about health care reform, Ryan has been very clear: He wants to privatize everything.

Good or bad, Ryan’s vice presidential candidacy has made a clear distinction between the Obama-Biden and Romney-Ryan tickets, giving a clear choice to the American public in the 2012 election.

• Roger Adhikari, a Tracy resident, is a finance manager for a company in Dublin. He can be emailed at roger.adhikari@gmail.com.

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