Or maybe not . . . things could happen. But let’s assume Gov. Romney will make the run. This is a good time to consider the thrash we have just completed with the primaries/caucus shenanigans. We can disregard the fact that the candidates, particularly Gov. Romney, have been on the campaign trail for almost a decade. It’s just since the Iowa caucus on January 3 that we have had to endure (can there be another word for it?) 21 primaries, caucuses, and endless media events masquerading as debates.
What have we learned? Here’s one thing: If you want to run for President, all you need is tens of millions of dollars and an ego to match. Given those two ingredients, we move on to the next stage. It is a foregone conclusion that the present incumbent (in any election year, not just our current occupant) is the Devil Incarnate. Nothing the current administration has done could possibly be anything but destructive to “The American Way of Life,” whatever that platitude might mean.
In order to prove (or refute) this point it becomes necessary to spend mammoth amounts of money. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the 1996 presidential campaign cost 239.9 million dollars, the 2008 campaign 883.3 million, and the 2012 is certain to exceed the one billion dollar mark I haven’t heard anyone say it, but what a boost elections are for the economy, particularly the media! Maybe we should have a presidential election every year.
Once the money gets raised the fairy tales begin. Each speech might well begin, “Once upon a time . . . .” The message of the candidates is that we can have it all and it will not cost us anything. Smaller, less intrusive government, lower taxes, a balanced budget, increased entitlements and programs, jobs for everyone. “A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage,” as Herbert Hoover famously said in 1928. We know how that well worked! Not to worry about the debt. As Alexander Hamilton (who must be spinning in his grave) proposed, we must have debt in order to be strong; we must be credit worthy to be respected. The part he never envisioned was that government would have no plan to meet its obligations.
Slogans: Don’t you just love them? “Guns and butter” we were promised in the 1960s. Too much of one and not enough of the other was the truth. Then we had Ronald Reagan with his ‘trickle-down” theory and supply side economics. George H.W. Bush was never more right when he called it “voodoo economics.” Jim Hightower, a populist pundit, hit the nail smartly when he said the idea was to help the rich and we would all be eating seven course dinners. That happened . . . the rich got much richer and everyone else had their seven course dinner: possum and a six pack.
I suppose we will survive the next several months and on November 6 we will vote. Many will believe the fairy tales we have been told, and they will be the first to become angry when it is obvious that they aren’t true. But it is true when bad things happen, no one stands up to take the blame. The Democrats blame the Republicans (and vice versa), the President blames Congress, the radicals blame the liberal, and the atheists blame the Christian right, the ice cap blames global warming, and so on. But there is one group that has no right to complain about anything: Those that don’t vote.
We will be inundated with manufactured hype about the election but we must see through all the problems associated with the system. Former Congressman Tom Davis had it right: “Campaigns are fiction; governing is fact.” Of one thing I am sure: name calling is not going to make things better. Listening critically, not accepting hyperbole as fact, holding the candidates to answering the questions they are asked rather than allowing them to meander off to their favorite sound bite, and voting, not for the slickest, the most urbane, or the most powerful, but the one who will truly put the interest of the country before everything else regardless of the political price. Will either be willing to tell the truth knowing it might cost the election?
Unless the electorate will stand up and be counted, unless we are willing to hear the truth, swallow hard, and get on with it, then we will continue down the same path of promises not possible, a result with which we have become much too familiar.