Monthly Archives: January 2012

On Political Armageddon: Essay for January 14, 2012

We have endured no fewer than 15 televised debates in the Republican quest for the Presidential nomination. In addressing the remedies to the many ills that have befallen this republic has anyone of the candidates really told the truth? The Republic is in danger and neither single person nor sound bite can bail us out. Any realistic remedy will require sacrifice in the form of less government largess that extends to all of us. No one is exempt from the downsizing that government aspirations must surely endure in order to restore fiscal balance. To borrow an expression from my Great Depression-era father, we have champagne tastes with a beer pocketbook.

The status quo is simply not sustainable. We cannot spend like there is no tomorrow because there must be a tomorrow. Any person who thinks that their personal special interest can escape the budget ax is either kidding themselves or is fiendishly selfish. Perhaps both. To be sure, a strong economic recovery can serve to mask the deficit but it cannot mask spiraling government spending.

The duopoly of the Republican and the Democrat Parties and the Political Class they have created has lulled us into a false sense of security that we can fix everything without living within our means; without saddling future generations with debt that they cannot possibly relieve. We have heard each of the Republican candidates offer their version of economic nirvana: We can grow our way out of debt if we could only fix the economy; we can stem the spending tide if we could only erase one third of government spending; we can end entitlements if we make people more independent and get them to pull themselves up by their bootstraps; we could end terrorism if we could only get foreign governments to think as we do.

It is not working out for America.

Constant bearing, decreasing range. In nautical terms, that spells collision. That is where the Captain of our Ship of State, President Obama, is navigating us. With Mr. Obama at the helm, our heading is on autopilot. The radar target up ahead is a rocky shoal that can’t change its’ position. We must alter our course or catastrophe is imminent.

Here is my fear. The Republican Presidential Class of 2012 is not going to make a significant difference in the course the nation is taking. They might reduce speed but that will only serve to delay the inevitable. Circumstances demand bold action and I am not certain that our Republican candidates are up to the challenge. Scarier yet, I am not certain our electorate is up to that challenge. The electorate may ask for change but for the other guy, not for them.

This is the crux of the argument of the Tea Party and, oddly enough, the unwitting message of the Occupy movement: the parties are not up to the challenge of the moment. And that is why we must be patient but not too patient.

The election of 2010 brought sweeping change to the US House of Representatives. To that august body were added some 65 members who described themselves as outsiders. They sleep in their offices; they vote their conscious; figuratively speaking, they have lain across the tracks of the status quo. And what thanks have they gotten? The final verdict is still out but they have not captured the imagination of the unions, the special interests, the political class and least of all, the Republican establishment. Witness the recent squabble on Capitol Hill over the 2 month extension of the Social Security tax rollback. Republican leadership does not understand the position of the newest members of their own caucus, the Tea Party; they do not understand the clamor of the populace.

This is why the election of 2012 has such importance. It may be the last two-party election. It’s now or never for the Republican Party. If the Republicans are to ever lead the recovery of our worldwide position of leadership, political, economic and moral, they must first preserve the gains of 2010 and expand them in 2012. But it is not enough to expand the margin in Congress if the lessons learned through victory are diluted by the mantra of the past.

The Republican Party is the last best hope for our Republic but only if it embraces the message of change for which the people of this country are clamoring: bring common sense logic to Washington; don’t make us beg you to actually lead.

If the Republican Party misses this opportunity to capture the aspirations of the mainstream of the American people in this election, there will be a real third party challenge in American politics. It will be organized and it will pull from both parties but will come at the greater expense of the Grand Old Party. And it will be of a consequence of failure to read the obvious tea leaves of the tea party: the old way is leading our nation to ruin.

Press on.

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On the Prize: Radio Essay for January 7, 2012

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On the Prize: Essay for January 7, 2011

The New Year has turned and we have officially entered into a year divisible by four. In other words, it is a Presidential election year. We have just finished Week 1 and already he have had the first caucus and in a few short days the first primary of this election year.
The candidates spent about $12.5 million on advertising in Iowa. Considering there were less than 125,000 votes cast in the caucus that comes down to about $1000 per vote. In the meantime, some 3 million Cornhuskers had to endure mind numbing and incessant ads day and night. Mitt Romney won Iowa by a scant 8 votes, capturing just over 30,000 votes.

Let’s put this in perspective. One hundred twenty five thousand votes are enough to win a Congressional election. Thirty thousand votes in an entire State is nothing. Most of the losing Congressional candidates in Massachusetts earned three times that many in 2010. It is not a mandate: it is a snapshot. There will be 125 million votes cast in November. What those votes represent is the crucible of challenge.

It is said that primary challenges make for better candidates. I believe that is true to a point. This beauty pageant has been a long and tedious one so far with ten candidates in the limelight and another ten candidates, mostly fringe, lingering in the shadows. Some candidates, people like Buddy Roemer, have not caught fire because of lack of exposure; others with exposure, like John Huntsman, have not caught fire. Go figure.

The American electoral process may be described as a play in three acts. Act I is the ritualistic mating and vetting dance where each candidate auditions and elbows the others for time. We have just entered Act II, the primary stretch to determine the nominee. It resembles the first Act but only for a short while. Victories yield momentum and donations, losses yield nothing but unfulfilled expectations and suspensions of campaigns. Act III is the head-to-head competition between the two party nominees. Will this year bring a third party candidate, too? I hope not.

Ironically, there are three factions in the Republican Party at this moment. There is the evangelical conservative, now led by Rick Santorum; the libertarian side, headed by Ron Paul; and the conventional, establishment side, headed by Mitt Romney. What amazes and disturbs me now is just how heated and divisive the interactions between these factions have become at the grassroots level.

If Facebook is any guide at all, there is very angry debate going on amongst conservatives who are seeking the anti-Obama. By necessity, they congregate in the Republican camp because there is no place for them amongst the Democrats. But it does not mean that all is well in that expanded Republican circle. These factions are in conflict right now. Each has their own candidate for the moment but the real test will be if they can coalesce once the three candidates whittle down to one. And that decision can come fast if Mitt Romney can keep his head of steam.

Romney has the national footprint and the broad financial base. He will be difficult to overcome because he has played the game according to the standard rules. He has been at this for years and the organization and discipline shows. But it is just that discipline and mastery of the established rules that have labeled Mitt as an establishment candidate in the eyes of the libertarians and less than effervescent in the eyes of the evangelicals.

Here is my suggestion for the anti-Obama forces: get together. There is only one chance to remove Barack Obama from office before damage is done to this country that we cannot begin to imagine. He cannot kill this country and he cannot kill our spirit but he can do us harm.

Too many people are seeking a sweeping victory that will not only reverse the damages wrought by Mr. Obama, but of The Great Society, The New Deal and Wilsonian Progressivism. It is a bridge too far. As in first aid, you must immediately stop the bleeding. Once that is done, you can deal with each malady as it presents itself.

The November elections will be a referendum and an opportunity to flip the rudder hard over. Like an aircraft carrier, this ship of state will take a few miles to perceptively change course. The first step is a Republican victory in November by the candidate who is the Republican nominee, no matter who it is. It is time to circle the wagons around the candidate, yes, but then on the party, too. The party needs fixing to be sure, but the country needs our help first. That is the prize. Let us keep our eyes upon it.

Press on.

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