Conservative opponents of President Barack Obama have made a cottage industry out of warning the American people about the dire consequences they think will surely follow if the president wins another term.
Books like "Fool Me Twice" and mockumentaries such as "2016: Obama's America" conjure up a vision of gullible Americans in Mao suits spending their days as unionized moochers counting their socialist entitlements. This is what happens when guys with vivid imaginations become drunk on politics, don't get out much and avoid reality.
While ruination nation has about as much chance of happening as a sudden epidemic of truth on the campaign trail, paranoia-tinged hatred is the only booming industry right now and who am I to depress the economy further by suggesting that some people take up saner hobbies? As the field of anti-Obama science fiction isn't going away before the election, the only helpful contribution might be for me to suggest what happens if Mitt Romney takes over as president. Yikes and double yikes! Yet such prognostication is overdue and is not only a matter of equal-time fairness but also pride -- surely liberal lunatics are just as capable of coming up with creative nonsense as conservative lunatics.
As ever, I stand ready to help. That's because anybody can predict the future with uncertainty; it's not just for meteorologists anymore.
As we know from Obama's poor showing in the first presidential debate, the first reaction of triumphant conservatives is industrial-strength gloating.
Of course, a good gloat would do anyone good, but only hard-core conservatives know how to sustain a gloat for hours. The best of them can be smug in their sleep and even snore in haughty fashion. These guys are black belts in the black arts of sneering and smirking.
Independents still stroking their chins and wondering who to vote for may consider the likelihood of four long years of nyah, nyah, Nancy Pelosi wears Army boots, we're No. 1, you're losers, etc. and etc. If you're cool with that, Mitt Romney is your man. But the political weather won't all be periods of gloating with intermittent gusts of ridicule and a chance of snow jobs in the upper elevations.
If Romney wins, curmudgeons of the right-wing variety will have very little to do. They have spent the past four years holed up in their flag-bedecked retirement cottages sending vile anti-Obama e-mails to each other. In the giddy aftermath of a Romney victory, in the midst of a huge gloat, it will suddenly occur to them that life has lost its meaning.
No more sending emails that say Barack Obama is a communist or a Muslim and that he has banned prayer, flag etiquette, Girl Scout cookies and puppies. This broken throng of critics will be reduced to walking the streets, stopping strangers to ask for their birth certificates in case they might run for president.
If that brings no pleasure, they will concoct conspiracy theories involving liberals to explain why their golf game has deteriorated.
Worse yet, the joy of blaming the mainstream media will not be there, not after Mitt Romney has captured the White House. Some nostalgic cranks will do it for old times' sake, but it won't be the same.
But what of the nation as a whole? You might suppose that Romney's debating skills are the perfect skill with which to refute the world's despots. But that would mean negotiating with them, and that is not Romney's plan.
Instead, he will be tough, tough, tough and anybody who messes with us will be served bombs for breakfast. He will not cut the defense budget because deficits don't matter when evil-doers are asking for trouble. This was the same neo-con philosophy adopted by Obama's elfin-eared predecessor and it will be repeated because it was such a success.
On a more familial note, Congress will pass and the president will sign the Wholesome Intimacy Act, which will mandate that married couples adopt the missionary position (as you know, this involves knocking on the bedroom door and handing religious tracts to a potential convert of the opposite sex).
I could go on about the coming changes in America during the reign of Mitt Romney -- how the elderly will amuse themselves by making paper planes out of their Medicare vouchers, how his appointees to the Supreme Court will wear actual Viking horns as they subject liberal laws to legitimate rapine -- but I'm keeping the choicest observations for my book and film, "2016: Romney's America." Remember: If you don't want the gloat, you'd better vote.
Reg Henry is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Email at rhenry(at)postgazette.com.