A Post Election Poem: Explaining the unexplainable!

As I have been contemplating the aftermath of the election, I have been reading a lot from both sides trying to hear what they have to say about the election and what I find remarkable is the dialogue from within the parties as to;

  • why they won, why they lost,
  • why they have a mandate, why they don’t have a mandate,
  • how the American people clearly spoke for tax increases, how they people clearly spoke against the tax increases,
  • the majority voted for Obamacare, the majority voted against Obamacare

As I have listened to the various talking heads and pundits, increasingly I have become more convinced than ever that we simply can’t discern desired fiction from pragmatic reality. As a nation, we seem to see things in polar opposite. As I listened and read, a poem from my youth came to mind that I have reconstructed at the end of the article. Continue reading

Do We Really Value the Truth? Preparing for November 6th

How much do we truly value the truth?  Sure we talk about it, we complain about it when we don’t get it, we have even gone to war over the ideal of it, and destroyed relationships over the lack of it, but do we really value the truth? Or, like some much of our lives, is it just a false value, a mythical thing, a posit that while we are willing to use the lack of it to our own advantage, we never expect to actually apply it to ourselves.

How often have you been told, or professed to others, that you would not have gotten in trouble if you had just told the truth.  Children hear this invective from their parents all Continue reading

President Obama describes his role for the middle class

On July 24, 2012, the San Jose Mercury News ran an article by Josh Richman and Matthew Artz, “Obama’s campaign hits Oakland. “Obama campaign hits Oakland.”

The article covers the typical campaign rhetoric. It has its requisite Romney and republican bashing, has the required promises that he will give us all everything we want if we just give him one more chance, how everything would be better already if it was not for those other guys, and of course it was all wrapped up with a large dose of scare tactics to convince those present in Oakland that the bogymen conservatives were about to take away their babies, Continue reading

Can Obama Win Election? It may be a minority opinion!

Do minority cultural characteristics belie the polling data?

If it is not already, this will be the consuming question for both parties over the next ninety-eight days.  Depending on your point of view the recent polls either show the race in a dead heat (if you are independent), Mitt Romney beginning to gain momentum (if you are republican) or President Obama beginning to pull ahead (if you are a democrat).  The main question is how accurate are the polls?  Here many pundits, again depending on their political persuasion have numerous cogent arguments as to why one view or the other is correct based on the sampling, Continue reading

Socialism again triumphs in France and Greece: Is America next?

Socialism trumps austerity in Greece, and France, is America next?

“Socialist Francois Hollande elected in France”

So, in both France and Greece, voters rejected the backers of austerity measures—Surprise, Surprise! This is no doubt the thought that most Americans had as they saw this headline in their morning paper.  For some the next question may be, “Is America going to be next?”

The two headed snake

America faces two major problems that could lead us to a French or Grecian style disaster. One is that we have the same problem in our economy; albeit we have been able to forestall, some say cover up, the problem since 1972. The second issue is we are deviating from the basic premises and rules our founding fathers established to preserve the American Republic and our engine of prosperity—capitalism.

Economic Collapse

America is very likely already at risk.  Our economic issues, the rapid unaccountable increase in currency since 1972, have caused a significant “hidden” inflation.  We have been able to avoid dealing with the fiscal realities because once we were off the gold standard and as a result of being the world’s benchmark currency most countries have had a vested interest in not calling us on the carpet.  While we have increased the amount of money in circulation from $500 Billion in 1972 to over $16 Trillion today, by most accounts an increase of over thirty-five times, no one believes that we have at the same time really increased the tangible net worth of the U.S. economy thirty-five times. Even accounting for the gains driven by technology, most would project only a $5 – 7 trillion economy at this point.

Constitutional Erosion

We were formed as a constitutional republic, specifically not as a democracy.  While early in General Washington’s first term as President of the new republic, a schism opened between John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, and other “Federalists” who believed in a strong central government structure vs. Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and other “Democrats” who believed strongly in resting much of the power in the hands of the states; none of these protagonists were advocates for a change in the U.S. Constitution to that of a democracy.  All of the founding fathers knew that democracies simply did not survive.  They realized that while the idea of democratic principles had a place in government to preserve the voices of, and provide protection for, the people; only a republic, backed by a constitution could provide the pragmatic offset to self-serving rules benefiting the masses at the long term expense of the republic itself.  They knew from history that democracies had a way of falling into revolution on the one hand and anarchy, socialism, or communism on the other.

While it can be said that the U.S. Constitution has served us well and that the strength of the republic carried us though many international crises since our founding, it has not protected us against ourselves and our own instincts to seek an easier road to survival or a weakening of our requirements for personal responsibility.  Beginning in the early 1900’s the so called progressive movement attempted to re-frame our nation as a democracy.  Slowly, our own view of our role as Americans has shifted from what we can do for our country, to what we expect to have our country provide for us.  This shift became so dramatically clear after World War II, that on January 20th, 1961, then President John, F. Kennedy in his inaugural speech felt it necessary to try to remind America’s youth that there was a higher ideal they should aspire to. He said clearly, to all Americans, “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you— ask what you can do for your country.”

Many scholars now believe that there has been a steady erosion of the constitutional basis for our republic as a result of many historical actions to affect short term problems.  Conspiracy theorists believe there has been a conscious effort to change us from a republic to a democracy by those in the Democratic Party.   Conspiracy theories are hard to fathom because it would need to attribute way more intellect and forethought to human beings that experience and evidence suggests.  History simply shows us that a series of decisions and events, each made for short term pragmatic reasons, have culminated in an ever increasing loss of core values.  You see core values are hard, they require sacrifice, they require risk, they require adherence to principals larger than us. It is by their very difficult nature that we define these values as part of one’s character, and it is this reason that we innately want to find ways to rationalize away these very responsibilities.

For about 100 years, we have been rationalizing away these values.  We have softened our education system and stopped teaching the detail of what it means to be a republic or an American.  Ask any American, under the age of sixty, what form of government we have and more often than not you will hear that we are a democracy.  If you press the point and ask what being a democracy means, they will say that the majority is supposed to rule. Interesting is it not that an ideal that brought unanimous approval to the Constitution of the United States by the founding fathers is now a tenant of which most of us are woefully unaware!

What is even more illustrative of the change to our national values and psyche, is the fact that Jefferson, Madison, and others, who were the foundation of the original Democratic Party, were strong advocates for a weak central government and felt that governing power needed to be as close to the people as possible thereby vested in each state. Also, I find it fascinating that the term “progressive”, now used as an invective by republicans as a cudgel to hammer democrats was originally an outgrowth of the republican ideals of the early 1900s. How is it that the party personalities can have so radically changed yet we remain blissfully unaware that the way we encapsulate ourselves is so transient?

Is America next?

While many of the same people who today believe we are a democracy—and believe that democrats stand for big government, that republicans want to hurt the middle class for the benefit of the rich and have no interest in helping the poor—also believe that there is no way that America will suffer the same fate as Greece, or France, or many other countries. Maybe it is time we asked ourselves some hard questions:

  • Have so weakened our own understanding of who we are, what our country is founded on, and what it is that protects us from such a declination that we no longer know how wrong we are about our own base assumptions?
  • Have we allowed this gradual debasement of personal responsibility, in favor of government entitlement and forced corporate reallocation of wealth, to go so far that a fundamental shift away from the principals of our own constitutional republican form of government is unrecognizable?
  • Are we electing leaders that are doing what is in the best long term interest of America, or are they simply willing to do whatever will get them the votes to be re-elected?
  • Do we really believe that a safety net for the helpless is the same as entitled services for all including the clueless and the worthless (fraudsters)? And do they believe that after years of hyperinflation of the currency we can continue to just print money out of thin air to pay for it or that the so called “rich” in America have enough to pay for everyone else?
  • Are we really immune to the fate of these other countries, or have we already suffered the economic collapse and have just been covering it up by printing more money and manipulating our economy to rationalize the perception of great gain?
  • When will this all come crashing down on us, or has it already started and we are just ignoring it? Is this why it is now so much fun to watch reality TV and revel in the catastrophes of other’s lives because it allows us to feel we are still better than them? Is it possible that is why the spectacle of the Coliseum in ancient Rome became so popular, because it helped hide their reality of the oncoming demise?

One last point to ponder!  If you think that we really have not lost a national understanding as to how our government functions, think of this.  No one can explain why we still have the election of the President of the United States conducted by an electoral college instead of by popular vote.  There are many who argue this is an anachronism, a relic of days before computers, and broadcast media but this is sophistry that would make the ancient Greek philosopher, Zeno, very proud. The electors have always had a duty to vote for the best candidate, not the most popular, and not the one that promised the most free-stuff.  The best candidate, the one that was best for all of America is the responsibility that rested in the elector’s hands. Now, many states have changed their laws to alter the rules for the electors to now only vote for the candidate that receives the majority of the popular vote—winner take all.  What happens if that candidate commits a heinous crime, or it is discovered that he is morally corrupt, or that he or she is conspiring to damage the country?  Are they still bound?  They did not used to be!

The final question is, “Are we about to become France, and Greece, or have we already suffered the same fate, and all that is left is the counting?”

I long for a Citizen Politician

Where have all the good men gone?

As I watch the current primary political spectacle, and await, with more than a modicum of trepidation, the coming presidential election of 2012, I long for the emergence of a “citizen politician” like those that founded, what once was, this great nation.  Where have they gone?  What has happened to our national values, that we no longer can produce such remarkable and dedicated individuals?  Have we so corrupted the elegant system, designed by the framers, that we simply cannot find those truly fit to serve the nation, instead of serving their own, or some subgroups desires and wishes.  Has the process been so corrupted that the simple citizens we most desire, and who would best serve, will not stand up to our current infinite scrutiny, or will not run because they do not want such public ablation of their character? We once had a collection of people, who felt that it was either their destiny, or their obligation, to serve their neighbors to build a better life for all, and to develop systems to assure that character, integrity, and nobles oblige, were the justifications for their fitness.

Recently, I have wondered, what were the characteristics that defined this group of remarkable men, those who risked and sacrificed so much to build this nation? Over the past year I have read a number of biographies of our founding fathers; men like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and Benjamin Franklin.  Each in its own way revealed bits of what united these men in such a grand and ambitious undertaking.  In another way, it has led me to wonder if we still have the tools in place to create others like these men, or if the circumstances of our modern world, our changed mores, faith, family, values, and education system have been altered so profoundly that we no longer build the necessary combinations of character, strength, conviction, patriotism, and dedication to generate leaders with a sense of purpose, responsibility, and faith in something grander than themselves with unshakeable and selfless commitment to their country and fellow citizens.  I guess the real question is, are we lost?

Our First President

George Washington was a complicated and interesting man.  All of us, who have studied history in modern schools, have read about Washington as the father of our nation, but the image of Washington that I learned in school both understates his contribution to the birth of this nation and fills our head with minor and false facts (like the story of the cherry tree) that do not provide a true measure of the man. To the continental colonists at the end of the revolution, George Washington, was more than any other, the father of this nation.

As the country was being forged, Washington, and many others just like him, felt a profound sense of duty to the rest of Americans to fight to the death against tyranny and eventually to build a great form of government to perpetually protect the nation’s people from the resurgence of tyranny from both abroad and within.  Today, we often hear as to what the framers felt was the role of faith and God in the creation, prosperity, and future of our nation.  Today, in our modern world of agenda based spin, we hear polar opposite views.  On the one hand, it is stated that the founders believed there is no role for religion in government.  Religion was not to have any part in the governance of the nation. And at the fringe, there are those that profess that it is a violation of the constitution to even allow and discussion, mention, or intimation of religion in any public venue, action, or event.  On another hand, we hear that religion is a clear part of our government, and became the basis for the governing system we chose. Further, at the fringe of this side, we hear that this, or that, religious view was inculcated into the constitution to promote this or that moral value.  Like everything else today, the truth is much more complicated than a sound-bite, and lies somewhere, nuanced, in the middle of the argument.

President Washington felt that National Policy needed to be rooted in private morality, which relied on “the eternal rules of order and right . . . ordained by heaven itself.” It was in consideration of the grand opportunity wrested by the sacrifice of the American people, through the providential victory of the revolution against England, that Washington’s held the view that this opportunity was granted by the unknown machinations of an almighty God. Washington wrote, “The sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly and considered as deeply, perhaps as finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.”

Washington and many of the other founders were big believers in the hands of some higher power guiding them to their destiny.  They also felt that only good and just men could reap the benefit of these grants from some higher power.  They believed in strength, justice, and the power of courage and conviction.  They were humanists, who felt it was their duty to help the downtrodden and the weak.  But, we should not confuse this humanistic view with their additional view that people were also individually responsible for their own destiny and lot in life.  As an example, Washington also wrote,

“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity; religion and morality are indispensable supports.”

Washington also wrote,

“Let no one go hungry away . . . provided it does not encourage in them idleness.”

The New Constitution

In 1787, as the continental congress was meeting to establish the foundation for a new and necessary form of government to control this new nation, there was significant controversy.  Read either of the recent biographies of George Washington, Washington, by Ron Chernow, or of John and Abigail Adams, First Family, by Joseph Ellis and you will see that the current level of histrionics, division, diatribe, and intrigue are nothing new.  Further, most of America had no knowledge of what was transpiring inside the State House in Philadelphia, in 1787, or what kind of government was being developed by the men who had assembled to compose our new nation.  The mystery was so complete that after the vote by the members of the congress in approval of the new constitution, Benjamin Franklin reportedly was approached by Elizabeth Powell as he left the State House.  When she saw Franklin, she is reported to have inquired as to what form of government had been produced by the members inside the convention.  Franklin responded, “A republic, madam, if you can keep it!”

Like politics today, this new constitution was not immediately revered by all.

George Mason, a friend of George Washington, declared that the new form of government “. . . would end either, in a monarchy, or a tyrannical aristocracy.”

Looking at the current state of America and its politics I think many would argue it has met Mason’s fate. It just depends on which side of the political spectrum one is, as to whether or not it is now ended as monarchy or tyrannical aristocracy—Occupy Anywhere anyone?

Citizen Politicians

I think we need to find a way to alter the current political selection process, and fundamentally eliminate the position of professional politician from our culture and revert to the original concept of government of the people, by the people, and for the people.  The “by the people” part was not designed to be rule by a professional political class as we are today.  Just what was the concept of citizen politicians at the time of the founding?

Many of the founders regarded any open interest in power as unbecoming of a gentleman. As a result, people like Washington, Adams, and Jefferson preferred to be drawn reluctantly from private life by the irresistible summons of public service.  Ron Chernow writes in his book, Washington, “George Washington felt even to say the word, president, or to merely broach the topic, even in the strictest confidence with friends would seem to betray some secret craving for the office on his part.” Chernow reports that Washington confessed his quandary to Alexander Hamilton in a letter where he said,

“For situated as I am, I could hardly bring the question into the slightest discussion, or ask an opinion, even in the most confidential manner, without betraying, in my judgment, some impropriety of conduct.”

John Adams and most of the founding presidents, all felt that nobles oblige, should be the guiding sentiment for their service.  As such, they did not believe that a candidate should campaign for the office.  They felt that people should be elected because their prior contributions and actions were so remarkable, as to render the populace unable to see any another as capable of assuming and performing in the office. As such, it was the fact that they had to go and actively campaign for such a position of power innately under-scored their lack of suitability for the job in the first place.

The solemn and grave nature of properly taking this almighty gift of independence and effectively creating and implementing a new government, worthy of the people who had sacrificed so much for this opportunity, led James Madison to create a strong metaphor for Washington to use to captivate the populace.  Madison wrote,

“. . . to be shipwrecked in sight of the port would be the severest of all possible aggravations to our misery.”

Meaning, that after we had collectively sacrificed so much, cut our ties to England, and now were left with such difficulty and strife if we fail to provide a just form of government for the people would just be the worst sort of failure and pain.  Madison’s view was predicated on the sacrifices and misery suffered by the new Americans in 1787.  How much more has been sacrificed and suffered in this quest to live up to our potential, and love of country and its promise in the past 225 years? Are our current politicians living up to the sacrifice of those who have gone before?

Nobles Oblige Often Led to Financial Hardship and Ruin.

For most of the first 152 years, elected public service was a significant economic burden. Many left political office with their business and personal financial interests in significant disarray.  These individuals accepted the service to their nation as a patriotic duty or to establish a historical place for their family name.  As an example, at the time Washington became our first president, his prior service in obligation to the needs of his forming country had left is estate on the edge of financial ruin.  As he was being elected president, he was left with no choice but to put his extensive land holdings in Ohio up for sale and to seek a loan of 500 pounds from Captain Richard Conway of Alexandria Va. Shortly after he made this initial request, he had to ask for an additional 100 pounds from Conway, to defray the cost of moving to New York and the cost of lodging so he could assume the new presidency.  So committed to the service to his nation, Washington still felt it was his duty, as he had throughout the Revolutionary war, to forgo any salary. Despite his dire fiscal situation, Washington informed congress of his intent.  Luckily for Washington, congress insisted that he accept his salary, so in some small measure, the fiscal burden was somewhat ameliorated.  Once again, when Washington left office, his personal fortunes had continued to suffer as a result of the demands of service to his country.

The Coming Storm

As I look at this year’s presidential primary election, and listen to both sides of the debates, I wonder if we have, in Madison’s words, been left shipwrecked in sight of our port.  I find myself more and more longing for a Washington, an Adams, a Jefferson, a Madison, a Monroe, a Jackson, or a Lincoln to emerge.  I yearn for some citizen politician, motivated by their love of country, their own nobles oblige, some sense of destiny to arise from the depths and steer us from the fate of the looming rocky shore. I desire the rise of a true citizen politician, one who feels it is unbecoming of the character of a gentleman to seek power or political office.  I know there are those who believe that in this larger and more expansive world, politicians must campaign actively and very extensively and obtrusively be in our face to gain election. I wonder, is this really and sadly the case?

We have had a few this political cycle whose names have been floated for office, individuals apparently not overtly seeking election—people like: Chris Christie, Paul Ryan, and Marco Rubio.  Each of them to date has rebuffed the invitation to lead their party in this election for various reasons.  Despite their apparent reticence, there are some who are still actively interested in wresting them as candidates to the national stage.  Despite their resistance, feigned or real, sadly, they are also firmly entrenched as members of the professional political class.  Where are the real citizen politicians?  The ones who would be dragged to this lofty, powerful perch as a result of their sense of duty and obligation?  Can we not find some method to identify them and bring them to the national attention without the need for a popularity contest composed of little more than national character assassination? Though I do which this is not the case, perhaps it is simply a pipe dream to believe once again we have and can find such men.

I now most fervently hope that we will not soon be laying plans for all of our children to be reading Daniel Defoe’s, 1919 work, Robinson Caruso, as our new national survival guide!

The Two-Bit-Kid vs. The Come-Back-Kid: Which do you want for your candidate?

Entering the Florida primary-of-the-moment race  are ‘The Two-Bit-Kid‘ (Mitt Romney) versus the ‘Come-Back-Kid‘ (Newt Gingrich).  Clearly, Newt has earned the title the Come-Back-Kid, as he has been counted out at least three times in the recent months by many pundits on the left and right. I have called Mitt the Two-Bit-Kid for his inability to gain or stay above 25% in the polls for more than just short period. Often, he has risen above this apparent wall only when others implode, sometimes on their own, and then sometimes with a little help from his friends.

Is it just me, or if you’ re a Californian doesn’t Herman Cain remind you of Willy Brown? Or Marion Berry if you’ re from DC?

The Republican race thus far has not been an awe inspiring process has it?  If we were to take a path along the lines of creating the next “Steve Austin” we clearly could have combined the candidates into our own “One Billion Dollar Elephant Man.”  We could have taken Newt Gingrich’s brain and policy experience (Newt is consistently one of the smartest guys in the room–and he knows how to nail those that the people want nailed!), Hermancain’s simple 999 style(I say Hermancain because, I have never heard any other name for him.  I can’t even tell if this is his first or last namecan you?) Let’s add in some of Rick Perry’s reversion-airy ideas on converting our professional political class back to part-time citizen politicians (something that is definitely needed). How about some of John Huntsman’s ability to speak Chinese (he could tell Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao the inside dirty jokes or tell them where the best Chinese food is in Washington, DC–who would know?) Let’s take some of Ron Paul’s views on the Federal Reserve (and their big bank cohorts)  and their complicity and obfuscation in the current financial crisis (and perhaps his relationship with Arthur Dent, a hapless Englishman who travels the galaxy, could help if the aliens lose all common sense and decide to invade the planet–Come on, you think he doesn’t know him personally?) Now let’s put in a dash of

John Huntsman seems like a nice enough person but he reminded me of a bobble-head doll every-time he spoke!

Rick Santorum’s ability to keep talking to everyone while not  really enhancing the conversation one iota, but seemingly not pissing people off (other than convincing them he is really truly a conservative–and after-all to Rick, that is all that matters right?), Michelle Bachmann’s attractiveness to the Tea Party and her singular focus on repealing Obamacare (Do they still find her attractive?–I mean in a political sense of course), And Mitt Romney’s uncanny ability to continue to run for president after, what is it?–eight years–wining only one state and still not get more than about 25 percent of the electorate interested in him, but still he continues. (Don’t forget the hair–Mitt has great hair! The best that money can buy!)

Please, will someone tell Mitt Romney not to put jell on his implants? It makes them look like a well cultivated cornfield owned by some anally-retentive Iowa farmer.

Now, if we could pull that off we would have the One Billion Dollar Elephant Man (BDEM).  The Republicans are going to need this to go up against the One Billion Dollar Donkey Man(BDDM). (I thought about using the pejorative that I know many of you are thinking but, it would not be appropriate!) Oh yea, he already has one billion dollars doesn’t he!  I think we should put this fact in a bit of perspective.

Lee Majors vs Barack Obama

I did not realize, until I began to research this article, that the show The Six-Million Dollar Man began in 1974.  The same year that President Nixon took us off the gold standard!  Now, how about that for a coincidence!  Lets take a look at what it is going to cost to build a modern replica of Steve Austin and compare that to what either the BDEM or the BDDM is going to actually cost us all.

In 1974, when Steve Austin was being constructed to protect mom, apple pie, and the American way, He cost America $6 million to build and there was a total of $500 billion of currency in circulation (CinC.)at the time.  That was about 0.0012% of the total money in circulation.  Now, if we look at the Billion Dollar Donkey Man or the proposed Billion Dollar Elephant Man, using the benchmark of Mr. Austin, either of these candidates should only cost about $192 million based on having almost $16 trillion total Currency in Circulation today.  But, they will likely cost at least $1,000,000,000.00 each! That equates to 0.0625%–an increase of 520.83%. That is an inflation rate of 13.71% per year since 1974. What do we get for our money?

That’s a 520% Increase!

I guess we should not complain all that loudly, should we?  We only had a 520% increase in the cost of the $6 million dollar man but we increased the total amount of money circulating in our economy by 3,200% Yep, that’s correct! We increase the total amount of money in our economy 32 times what it was in 1972. And of course the value of all the assets of the U.S. increased 32 times as well didn’t they?

While our ideology, and its complete polarization, have made for great copy; no single person or party is responsible for this mess.  We all are!  As I read the paper this morning, I start to see the new push against Gingrich as angry, unpredictable and undisciplined.  I see the attacks on Romney as not in touch with the common man, driven more by greed, and not able to close the sale with voters.  Overall I saw so what!  In sales and marketing there is a thing called the “so what test!”  If after someone tells you something they think is a selling point you can say so what, then they have not made the sale!  I think we need to all say so what a bit more!

Conversely, now I hear, over and over, how the democrats are more afraid of Romney than Gingrich–that Gingrich has so much baggage they feel they can easily beat him. And as Yul Brenner said in The Kind and I, “Etcetera….  Etceteraaaa….  Etceteraaaaaaa!”  Deep inside, when I hear this I wonder if the words of the queen in Shakespeare’s Hamlet ring true?

_____________________________

Player Queen:
Both here and hence pursue me lasting strife,
If once I be a widow, ever I be a wife!
Player King:
‘Tis deeply sworn. Sweet, leave me here a while,
My spirits grow dull, and fain I would beguile
The tedious day with sleep.
Player Queen:
Sleep rock thy brain,
And never come mischance between us twain!
Hamlet:
Madam, how like you this play?
Queen:
The lady doth protest too much, methinks.
Hamlet Act 3, Scene 2

_____________________________

Logically thinking about this, I am not sure I agree with the conventional, or contrived wisdom, that the Democrats are more afraid of Romney.  He has more money at this point, he is more organized, and his background accomplishments key him up directly as the economic foil to illustrate the Presidents economic failures.  In the long run, if we get our collective heads out of our nether regions, I don’t think the rap against Romney on his fiscal achievements, and liabilities,–Bain Capital, taxes et. al.–amount to much in balance.  For everyone who begrudges him his success and fortune, others will want him to translate these skills to work on their behalf.

Likewise, Gingrich may have baggage, but it just different baggage.  Like the others, in many of the attacks on Gingrich the supposed weaknesses also become strengths.  Unpredictability, is well, unpredictable.  Unpredictability makes it difficult for others to prepare their game plan and stick to it.  Clearly, Newt is the strongest debater, and by almost every account the smartest man in almost any room.  Some have charged this leads him to be undisciplined and that his idea-a-minute brain makes it hard for others to find focus and achieve.  Clearly, this is not the case for some others.  Newt himself has had a disproportionate share of successes, accomplishments and achievements in his lifetime.  Recognized as a quintessential American, more along the lines of the early framers and founders.  He is and been a successful politician, author and consultant. He has been Times Man of the Year in 1995 for his role in leading the Republication Revolution and creating the Contract with America, Earned his PhD from Tulane University, has taught History and Geography,  founded Conservative Opportunity Society, American Solutions for Winning the Future, The Gingrich Group, and the Center for Health Transformation and co-authored over 27 books and documentary movies. Yes, his marital history and admitted infidelities are cause for some to find him inappropriate to hold the office. A number of our founding fathers had similar transgressions.  And for one I am really tired of this as a litmus test for an elected candidate.  I want someone who can lead the country, come up with good ideas and solutions and fight hard and passionately to bring them forward to conclusion.  I want someone who will call things as they are.  I am tired of the politically correct version of our history and our life.  Most importantly, I am tired of our desire to offend no one standing in the way of our ability to recognize the issues on either side and deal with them effectively, timely and efficiently.

Newt has baggage but he also has a long and diverse list of accomplishments!  While Romney resonates with women Newt does not.  While Newt creates the feeling that nothing is beyond his intellect and willingness to take a risk and to fight the full fight, Romney often appears to favor the safe path.  Overall, Newt presents to Americans the Passionate Risk Candidate, while Mitt presents the Safe Bet Candidate.  Who will eventually win may still be anyone’s guess.

Being a Mugwump, I will end up voting for the person that I believe will do the best job and accomplish the most.  There are things that are attractive to me about Newt as I feel what we need now is a fighter, someone who is willing to passionately address the issues we face both inside our nation and abroad.  I think now, I want someone who will not play it safe and who will take the risky path and fight for the best outcome.

I do not worry about Newts baggage, I am concerned that we have changed so much as a society that we no longer want citizen politicians with all their flaws–just read any of the recent biographies of Washington, Adams or Jefferson and you will see what I mean they were all flawed men.  I am worried that today we want political-celebrity-rock star-gods.  We seem to really want to have a Professional Political Class, telling us what to do.  We seem to be willing to accept anything they do as long as they do not become regular everyday people like us!

There are things about Romney I like as well.  I like his tenacity, his success, and his history in the private sector.  His religion and long term commitment with his wife neither sway me nor bother me.  I am not voting for a political-celebrity-rock star-god.  I will vote for the person I think can and will do the best job.  I am still forming this opinion, but I am now down to two candidates only.

What I am most concerned about is us!  I am concerned that the criteria we are using to select our next president is not based on the things we really should be evaluating.  We have said in years past, mostly in furtherance of political objectives, that it is about character.  I think in some cases character matters.  But like everything else, even a persons character has to moderated against the other factors and issues we face.  Genius lies in many people, many cultures, many demographics, many ethnicities, and many degrees of fidelity.  Overall, I want the best person to solve the problems that our country faces today.  The characteristics I have looked at in many ways become conflicting with each other and sometimes conflict with basic human nature.

What do I want?

  • I want plain talk, I want workable solutions, I want clear answers,
  • I want a dedication to America more than I want a dedication to my own self interests,
  • I want someone who knows how to get things done in Washington DC, I also want a citizen politician,
  • I want a strong leader, I want a leader to balance compassion with responsibility,
  • I want a person who can elevate the nation, and myself,  to a new level of greatness in the world,
  •  I want someone who believes enough in our capability to think big thoughts but deliver pragmatic solutions,
  • I want a leader who builds admiration and respect in our nations friends and abject fear along with respect in our nations enemies,
  • I want someone to lead us to a new era of tolerance and respect for each other as Americans,
  • I want someone who can move our full-time professional political class back to part-time citizen politicians,
  • I want a president who is selfless who will sacrifice the potential for “4-more-years” to do the correct thing for the country,
  • I want a president that can help re-engage our youth and re-invigorate our education system in teaching our next generations our real history–what it takes in terms of knowledge, commitment, dedication, hard work, respect and compassion to be successful and responsible national and family leaders,
  • I want a leader that will resolve the ongoing conflict between the powers at the federal level with those at the state level,
  • I want a leader that will inspire all of us to be bigger than ourselves, become more self reliant, and do better at helping each other as Americans.
  • I want a Washington, or a Lincoln, or an Adams, or a Jefferson, or a Jackson, or either Roosevelt
  • I want a pragmatic idealist
  • I want a person who believes that faith plays a role–which faith is not important
  • I want someone who can sees how the Federal government can provide the checks and balances to make sure we all do our best for the country and each other but not one who sees the Federal government provide for us all
  • I want a leader that knows the value of our history–all of it–not slanted to one political side or the other
  • I want a leader that will make the hard choices–the ones none of us want to make and does not soft peddle the solutions to preserve the livelihoods in DC

I could go on and on but this is long enough already .  I would hope that most of you do not find much, if anything, you disagree with–despite your political affiliation.  I also, hope you will notice what you do not see on this list: things like; marriage status, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, size, weight, personal predilections or anything else.  In the long run I am not even sure that in the end I want to ‘like’ the candidate. By this I mean they do not have to be someone I want to go have a beer with.  I really just want the best person, with the best ideas, singularly dedicated to fix the problems and make us a better country.

In the long run this alone would be a great start!  Wouldn’t it?

Ron Paul:The Republican’s Pall

Recent Pitts Article

Perhaps it is just me, and apologies to those Ron Paul supporters out there, but I do not understand the fascination with him as a candidate.  Yes, there are things he says that I agree with, but there are also many things he says that I find, quite frankly, astounding. Yes, he has a number of concrete plans, but his unbending ideology takes his positions to a ludicrous (I don’t mean the rapper–Ludicris) level.  Yes, he is a non-Romney candidate but given his positions in some areas you could say the same about Michael Moore. Because in some cases, I am not sure I can find much difference in the level of both extremes. I am not saying he and Michael Moore share the same views, just that often I see Mr. Paul taking his ideas to the same level of incredulity.

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

In a article by Leonard Pitts Jr., Ron Paul’s consistency doesn’t make him right, He sums up what it is about Ron Paul that has confounded me for so long.  I am fiscally conservative and often socially moderate and given the correct circumstances, sometimes socially liberal.  So I should be attracted by a committed Libertarian, but in this case I am not. To confound the problem, I don’t understand how he could have rated so high in Iowa. While there is an old joke that Iowa stands for “Idiots Out Walking Around,” I know many people in Iowa and I have traveled there many times over the years and conducted business in Iowa as well. I find the people of Iowa to be highly intelligent, dedicated, perhaps slightly more conservative, and very hard working. In short, I see nothing that would explain to me why so many have gravitated to someone who is often so far in the extreme.

I find myself in agreement with Mr. Pitts.  Something that is not a common occurrence.  This in itself gives me pause!  But Mr. Pitts summed up my exact sentiments about Ron Paul when he said, “Ralph Waldo Emerson, meet Ronald Ernest Paul. He is the very soul of a foolish consistency. Meaning that he is willing, often to a fault, to follow his ideology to its logical and most extreme conclusions.”

I also do not find some of the extremes of Ron Paul to be that conservative.  I know a few other very conservative people who refer to Ron Paul as really one of the most “liberal” people in the presidential race, some proclaim he is to the left of President Obama in many areas.  I am not sure that I would draw the same conclusions. I do, however, think his brand of extremism is more than confusing; it is at least very risky–perhaps even dangerous. It is in any event at least dangerous for the Republican party.

One pundit last night suggested that perhaps Iowans were sending a message to the Republican leadership. Well if so, it is to my way of thinking a very problematic message.  This election, more so than any others in recent history, will be decided by independents, and moderates in both parties.  Non-Republicans, and some Republican moderates, tend to worry about the extreme views of the Republican party and the potential extreme conservative segments of its platform, just as non-Democrats and Democratic moderates then tend to worry about the extreme liberal segments of the Democratic platform.

Sending such a message and ignoring Paul’s foolish consistency in the areas of civil rights, Iran and their nuclear ambition, and the recognition that there are some areas where the federal government must play a role to promote the general welfare, if in fact that is what is being done, is not going to go far toward endearing independents and moderates to the benefits of a Republican executive branch and congress.  Not since the period of the 1880s to the early 1900s have we seen such a divided ideological ocean between the parties.  With it has come a broad distrust of the professional political class and significant suspicion as to motivation and potential corruption in their platforms and agendas.

In the end, Ron Paul’s finish in the race last night in a virtual dead heat with Romney and Santorum worry’s me.  If the Republican party members in the U.S. now are willing to accept such a level of foolish consistency in their candidate in order to adhere to other desired ideals, we will run the risk of ignominious defeat in the presidential election.  Independents and moderates will likely see Republicans as a party driven so far by  ideology that these key voters will not be able to accept their perceived risk of this foolish consistency.

Perhaps the pundits are correct and Iowa is a Paul anomaly, and as we move through the remaining caucuses he will once again fade into history as did James G. Blaine in the election of 1884 or Alton B. Parker in 1904.  If not, I fear, in about one year, we will be recalling the Paul pall of 2012.