It’s Halloween. So, the relevant question is, zombie or voodoo?
What’s the best way to characterize the Romney-Ryan economic plan—in terms of zombies or voodoo? Joss Whedon, above [ht: mfa], chooses the zombie metaphor. Ezra Klein, on the other hand, looks to voodoo:
Thirty-two years ago, George H.W. Bush called the idea that tax cuts would pay for themselves “voodoo economics.” He was right, but his party decided he was wrong: Bush was exiled from conservatism after raising taxes as part of the 1990 budget deal, and every Republican presidential nominee after him has offered huge tax cuts as a matter of course.
Mitt Romney, interestingly, is an exception to this rule: He’s not offering huge tax cuts. Or, to be more precise, he is offering huge tax cuts but he’s promising to pay for them by closing tax breaks and ending deductions. That is to say, he’s at least admitting that tax cuts cost money and need to be paid for. Given that his various numbers don’t add up, there’s a bit of pixie dust there, but it is, rhetorically at least, a turn away from voodoo and towards responsibility.
More worrying is what we might call Romney’s voodoo spending cuts: His promise that his promised spending cuts, despite being deeper than any in modern history, won’t hurt anyone, anywhere, at any time, for any reason. In fact – shades of supply-side economics here — they’ll probably make government services even better.
As it turns out, zombies and voodoo are related, as Timothy Sexton explains:
Those who believe in the power of voodoo look upon the stage of being a zombie not unlike many Christians look upon the concept of purgatory. In essence, according to voodoo mythology, when people commit acts of evil during their lives they open themselves up the potential of being subjected into a state of utter limbo. An even better description of this state is that they are stripped of everything that makes one human; they are the absence of humanity. Since only a voodoo priest is capable of putting another human being into this state, the priests are invested with tremendous power. In fact, it is less the zombie itself that believers fear and dread than the priest who possesses this magical spiritual power. The real fear of the followers of voodoo is not that a zombie will arise and come looking for their brains; the real terror is that they may one day face retribution for their sins by being the target of this great spiritual transformation.
What are we to conclude? Clearly, that Romney and Ryan imagine themselves as voodoo priests who will make us pay for our sins (like wanting decent and well-funded government programs for the poor, sick, and retired) by turning us into zombies.
Or, alternatively, some voodoo priest (aka the Republican Party and a long line of billionaires) has already turned Romney and Ryan into zombies, having stripped them of everything that might make them human. In other words, they have become the absence of humanity.