DRISCOLL: So with all of that as prologue; with the ongoing collapse of so many aspects of what make up Barack Obama’s worldview, why is Mitt Romney seemingly flailing in the polls as of the time of this interview?
STEYN: Yeah. That bothers me too, because this guy ought to be losing by ten points at least. And I know people say well, it’s a fifty-fifty nation and it’s going to be a tight election and all the rest of it. If it’s tight this time around that says something very alarming. You know, a lot of people don’t — simply don’t get the numbers. The word trillion doesn’t really mean anything to people; it has no relation to their lives. And at a certain point it takes on a bit of unreality because if you can spend trillions of dollars you don’t have and you do it for one year and you do it for two years and you do it for five years, people think well, why can’t we keep on doing that. So that doesn’t seem like a real problem to many people.
And then I think there’s something even more worrying. That if you go back to 2008 — and we all did this at the time — we said basically those of us, you know, who however reluctantly supported McCain. When he lost we said well, the guy gave the impression he wanted to lose and people were exhausted by war and people were tired of the Bush administration and the Republicans hadn’t covered themselves in glory in the previous couple of years and this guy would be the first black president and everyone’s saying he’s the greatest speaker of all time and he’s a real glamorous celebrity figure.
You know, McCain did the thing where he was mocking Obama as the celebrity. Now we’ve had four years of him. He’s a crashing bore. He’s not a great speaker. He’s got nothing new to say. He staggers around doing the same — giving the same leaden speech as the economy flatlines, as the jobs market shrivels, as people in their early fifties go on disability and people in their late 20s move back with their parents.
If he gets sort of elected as the nonglamorous failure, what that would mean is that America is essentially saying there’s no prospect of recovery. We’re sticking with big nanny Obama because at least he’s guaranteeing our food stamps and our disability checks. And they would essentially be accepting — they would be accepting, I think kind of — a European nanny state view of America that would in effect spell the end of this country. They’d be basically saying there’s no possibility of an American dream.
Yes, we could vote for Romney, but who wants to take a flyer on economic recovery. At least if we go with Obama we have the certainty of the food stamps and the certainty of the disability checks. That’s a — there’s no hope — he’s basically offering them the hope — the certainty of no change. And he’s saying when everything gets bad, and it’s going to be bad for as far as the eye can see, vote for me because you’ll get your food stamps.
DRISCOLL: And that certainly sounds like After America to me, or at not the America I grew up in.
STEYN: Yeah. I think it is After America. And the difference, I think — the point I try to make in the book, Ed, which is, you know, really I think very important is that Europe’s post-war decline was cushioned by the United States; the successive power. The power that inherited Britain’s global networks built up over the previous century and a half, that’s the smoothest transition of global order ever in world history. To the point where I don’t think historians in centuries to come will even look on it as a transfer. They’ll look on the sort of Anglo-American imperium from the battle of Trafalgar for the next two centuries as one continuous period.
But the — it’s not going to go that way this time around. That’s really what we’re seeing on the streets of Benghazi and Cairo, is that there is no — we will be living in a world with no order. And again, the isolationist right, the Ron Paul guys say well, you know, who needs the rest of the world; screw off. We can be a nineteenth-century isolationist republic and don’t have to get mixed up with any of this stuff.
I mean, get real. Show me what’s — show me in your house something that’s made in America. Where’s your nineteenth-century Yeoman republic gone. Go take me to your local Walmart and show me something that’s made in the United States of America. When everything in your home — you know, it’s easy to say we don’t want to be the big global policemen; we just want to be rich and fat and happy and watch Dancing with the Stars. But when the TV you’re watching Dancing with the Stars on is made on the other side of the planet, and when the clothes you’re wearing are made on the other side of the planet, when everything comes from the other side of the planet you’re engaged with the world whether you want to be or not. So don’t give me this nineteenth century isolationist mumbo-jumbo. That ship has sailed. It’s a container ship and it’s sailed to Shanghai to pick up all the junk in Walmart that you guys want to buy because it’s cheaper than trying to make it over here.
DRISCOLL: Sadly, perhaps much like America itself, we’re out of time. This is Ed Driscoll for PJ Media.com, and we’ve been talking with Mark Steyn, of Steyn Online.com, the author of the last year’s New York Times best-seller, After America: Get Ready for Armageddon. It’s now out in paperback, at both Amazon.com and your local book seller. And Mark, thank you for stopping by once again.
STEYN: Hey, always a pleasure, Ed.