As the immaturity, demagoguery, and childish behavior continues to grow within the political class in Washington, it is a good time to take the following short quiz and ask ourselves the following questions before deciding who you want to be your next President:
- Is our nation’s economy better or worse than in 2008?
- Is our nation’s unemployment situation better or worse off than in 2008?
- Is your job security and job satisfaction better or worse than in 2008?
- Is our nation’s foreign affairs position better or worse off than in 2008?
- Is our national unity and civility better or worse than in 2008?
- Are gasoline prices better or worse off than in 2008?
- Is our level of freedom better or worse off than in 2008?
- Is the influence in our politics from the obscene amount of union, corporate, lobbyists, and PAC money better or worse off than in 2008?
- Is Social Security’s fiscal solvency better or worse off than in 2008?
- Is Medicare and Medicaid’s fiscal solvency better or worse off than in 2008?
- Is the fairness and effectiveness of our nation’s tax system better or worse than in 2008?
- Is the nation’s national debt situation better or worse than in 2008?
- Are college costs better or worse than in 2008?
- Is government incompetence and waste better or worse than in 2008?
- Is your home worth more or less since 2008?
- Is the ability to get a home mortgage better of worse than in 2008?
- Is the country any closer to solving the major issues of our times such as failing public schools, a lost war on drugs, the lack of a nation energy strategy, leaky borders, and ever escalating health care costs than in 2008?
- Is the nation’s leadership any better or worse than in 2008?
- Is the nation’s ability to handle disasters, e.g. Gulf oil spill, any better or worse than in 2008?
- Is the nation’s foreign military entanglements and associated costs any better or worse than in 2008?
- Is the nuclear threat from rogues states like Iran and North Korea any better or worse than in 2008?
I would bet most Americans would answer negatively to the above questions if recent opinion polls are any indication. Now repeat the above questions and change 2008 to 2004 or 2000. I would bet your answers are basically the same, regardless of who is in the White House and what party controls Congress.
If you answered negatively to most of the quiz questions, you are not alone:
- The results of a CBS News poll, that was summarized in the July 15, 2011 issue of The Week magazine, found that 39% of Americans say the U.S. economy is in permanent decline, which is up almost 40% from the 28% who felt that way last October.
- The same poll found that 57% of those surveyed felt the economy would eventually recover, which is down 16% from 68% who felt that way last October.
- A recent Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll found that 63% of those American surveyed believe the country is on the wrong track, up from 60% who felt that way last October. Not only is the number getting worse going forward but it is distressing high even at 60%.
- A recent Harris poll among small business owners found that 84% of them feel that the U.S. economy is on the wrong track.
Nasty stuff. A major problem with this kind of pessimism is that at some point it probably becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. As people get more and more depressed about economic prospects they tend to hunker down, spend less, invest less, and before you know it things are even worse than they would have been.
And this is not just a rant at the current Presidential administration, although they certainly have contributed to the pessimism. No Presidential administration has made much headway against the issues listed above either. The war on drugs is over forty years old, the lack of a national energy policy is over thirty five years old, our public schools have been failing for decades, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid have been heading for insolvency for decades. The list goes on and on, regardless of who is running the show in the White House and in Congress.
Which is what always puzzled me. If we were treated this poorly by a car salesman, our dentist, our retail store, would we put up with this nonsense and nonperformance? Absolutely not. We would either return the product or service we purchased for a refund and/or never use that car dealer, dentist, or store again. But in politics, we continue to hire the same types of people for the job even though we are constantly disappointed by their performance and waste.
The only explanation is that those people in office and in politics that constantly disappoint us have rigged the political process so that we really never have a choice to opt for competence over incompetence, we are only given two different flavors of incompetence.
Consider some insights from Franklin Delano Roosevelt: “The country cannot get a firm sense of direction if it has two or more national parties which merely have different names but are as alike in their principles and aims as two peas in a pod.” I would slightly adjust his quote to say we are stuck with two parties that have very few principles between them both and it seems their only aim is to get and to stay elected, regardless of the damage they do to the country.
Several steps need to be implemented to start breaking this monopoly of incompetence we currently suffer through with the political class:
- Step 1 – allow only individual American citizens to contribute to political campaigns, removing the obscene amount of organizational money from corporations, unions, PACs, and lobbyists that overwhelm our votes and our voices when we vote.
- Step 2 – do not allow any one to contribute to any election campaign that does not impact their lives, e.g. do not allow a resident of New Jersey to contribute to a Congressional campaign in Kansas. Only Kansas residents living in that Congressional district should be able to contribute to their district’s campaigns.
- Step 3 – any Presidential candidate from ANY political party that has a mathematical chance of winning the election, from an Electoral College perspective, must be included in he Presidential debates.
- Step 4 – eliminate the Democratic party’s politburo-like “super delegate” process so that the chance that the votes of millions of Americans would be overruled by a handful of politicians would never happen.
- Step 5 – institute term limits for all Federal elected posts so that elected officials vote for the best interests of the country and not their re-election campaign which would no longer be an option.
Until we fix our election processes via some of the steps listed above, we will continue to be blessed with the defective political class we currently suffer through. Wasteful, selfish, and ineffective, a losing hand if ever there was one. We have to find a way to start electing dedicated Americans to office who will act in the interest of the country and not just their own political careers, people who offer real, concrete plans and not just fluff, wishful thinking and empty hope.
Remember the words of Dr. Julie Gerberding: “Hope is not a strategy. We have to plan.” Current and past Presidential administrations only had hope, and no matter how audacious that hope is, hope is not a strategy, it is simply nonproductive, wishful thinking. Hope does not pass quizzes like the one listed above. Hope does not solve the major issues of our times.