Brookings' William Galston says Democrats would be wise to not demagogue Ryan's selection, instead they should engage in the debate surrounding his polity proposals.
There are many Americans who believe two things about where things stand right now: The Romney-Ryan approach is unacceptable, and the status quo is unsustainable. Obama may be able to win the election by persuading a majority of the few voters still open to persuasion that in the short-term, the status quo is preferable to Romney-Ryan. But if he closes the deal by shutting the door to the reforms that we may well need in the long-term, it will be a Pyrrhic victory.
Let me be specific. A number of Democrats once believed—and some still do—that a well-crafted version of premium support is part of a balanced and sustainable long-term fix for Medicare. If the effect of the Ryan choice is to take not only the Ryan budget’s version of premium support off the table, but also the kinds of approaches that Alice Rivlin and Ron Wyden have proposed, then we’ll be left with far less appealing options for stabilizing Medicare.
This is one example of a broader point: The status quo is a very poor point of departure for the decisions we’ll have to make—if not in 2013, when we should, then later, and under duress. If Obama wins the election by playing on the fear of change, which is very real, then the election will settle nothing, and our already dysfunctional political system will be mired in gridlock indefinitely.