Word is out to ignore the sentimental guff of the US presidential campaign because this one will truly be a contest of ideas. Mitt Romney is endorsed by distinguished economists (blogger economists include Greg Mankiw, John Taylor, John Cochrane). As a running mate Romney selected Paul Ryan, who has intellectual pedigree and policy-ready plans grounded in respectable theories of political economy that have not seen political light of day since the ‘turnaround’ embrace of Hayek by Thatcher and Reagan. Ryan’s message to the crowds -- “After four years of getting the runaround, America needs a turnaround”.
It seems an appropriate moment to generalise about the political transmission mechanism for ideas. Ideas themselves -- even their confluence on industrial revolution scale in science, economic product and process, and social science -- do not make things happen on a big scale. For that is needed intermittent ideology, a mechanism for simplifying, congealing, spreading ideas to single generations of populations.
Ideology, not ideas, turns the world around:
I have read that Paul Ryan is or was a libertarian who as a youth may have inhaled the turgid fiction of Ayn Rand. Libertarianism won’t win this election because it fails some of the crucial tests of workable ideology. To see why this is so we need only revisit the writings of an Austrian economist popular among American right-wingers -- Ludwig von Mises -- and also America’s distinguished economic sociologist -- Talcott Parsons.