Useful article, but mainly reverses and thus replicates the error that it seeks to correct.
It goes without saying that every individual subjectivity is endless from the point of view of analysis. Wherever the analysis, the reification in words, stops, there precisely would be where the authentic self begins – another way of saying that the authentic self is a question for mystics or philosophers. We can however differentiate between different forms of presentation of the self that correspond systematically to different conceptions of the self politically and socially, that in turn are crucial to and distinguish competitive political ideologies.
This observation is potentially the basis for a complex discussion, or for a number of them, but an offhand statement in the main post frames the issue. The blogger says about Romney that “there are reasons why he performs on the stages he does—he’ll never be any kind of liberal—but he doesn’t just play the same character every time.” Keeping in mind that human beings are complicated entities and that no one or thing is ever all only one thing or another, Romney in fact represents a very particular kind of liberal. He speaks or performs as the economic liberal or classical liberal, the liberal properly so-called prior to the emergence of social liberalism. He knows the principle of money and the free market, but the principle of money annihilates the public self. Its interest in the human character is mainly utilitarian – in no way “sympathetic” – and from every other point of view at least somewhat destructive.
Social liberalism (Democratic Party ideology broadly speaking) and social conservatism (paleo-conservative, evangelical – Palin, Santorum) emphasize very different presentations of self. To state the obvious, they are “social.” Romneyism is in this sense as nearly perfectly as possible anti-social within the bounds of “mainstream” politics: It displaces its irreducible social remainder onto other generally accepted sacred objects, typically the blessed nation of hyperpatriotism, and the family. The analysis of “Mormon economics,” but also Frank Rich’s insight into Romney’s overdetermined concealment of his Mormon identity, help explain how the “Romneybot” ends up with a transparently false salesman’s persona: It’s the reduced self adapted to free market capitalist purism, the stunted religion of “private equity” above all, which, like money itself, is generally transparent to the contents it proceeds to price.
In other words, the economic liberal whose personality is another “private equity” is the human exponent of the universal equivalent, money, and approximates its mode of operation in his chameleonlike adaptability. Yesterday he was a social liberal, today he’s a social conservative. He doesn’t “really” care. He isn’t “really” anyone, at least as far as we’re concerned. And that’s who he is for political purposes – same as what he comes across as – no one in particular.