I grant that the president has significant influence over international affairs, although less than [David] Goldman seems to be believe. The president also has some control over benefits and the budget. The size of the debt, however, depends substantially on the condition of the economy, over which the president’s influence is far more limited that either candidate lets on.

But does Goldman really think that significant numbers of Americans are going to go back to church, have more kids, or recover their belief in the superiority of our culture if Mitt Romney is president? If so, Spengler’s pessimism conceals a truly extreme optimism about the consequences of politics.

I wouldn’t bother responding to Goldman’s overestimation of politics if it did not exemplify the annexation of American conservatism by the Republican Party. According to the defenders of this annexation, the fate of the country depends on the fortunes of Republican candidates, especially for president. But the truth is, the occupant of the White House doesn’t matter very much to many of the problems that conservatives care about. Politicians are rightly held responsible for specific policies. But the nation’s cultural health depends on us.