Columnist Dave Brown writes for Oklahoma Lefty and Red Dirt Report.
By Dave Brown
Red Dirt Report, contributing writer
Posted: July 31, 2012
MOORE, Okla. -- In a few months, the voters of this country will cast their ballots for the President of the United States. Their options will be the current President, Democrat Barack Obama, Republican Mitt Romney, and a smattering of other candidates from various parties depending on what state the voter resides in. The situation in the nation is grim. The economy is in bad shape and has been going back to the previous President, George W. Bush. The economic mess was created by a variety of causes from greed and hubris to incompetence to parts of government doing too much and other parts not doing their job at all. At this point the how it happened isn't as important as fixing the problems (although there should be serious criminal investigations into the crash but that will never happen beyond a few patsies and scapegoats). That's where the presidential election comes into play.
The election of 2012 will be about the economy, plain and simple. The fact that millions are without work and on food stamps is unacceptable to most Americans. People should have the opportunity to find a good job that pays a living wage and those opportunities are now few and far between. In reality, the President cannot directly impact the economy, but he/she does set the tone and the direction for the federal government. This direction and the policies that it produces can influence the economy for good (see Presidents Reagan and Clinton) or bad (see Carter) and some policies acted like a band aid holding back a gushing cut (see George W. Bush).
In the long run some of the policies that made the economy improve in the 1980s have had disastrous long term affects (see cuts in higher education funding). And the politics of the 00s have turned the job of running this nation into an all-or-nothing cage death match. The Office of the President no longer answers to the people of this country, but to the special interests, labor unions, and corporate entities that fund elections and that is a sad fact of life that isn't going to change anytime soon. In reality the country has the choice between two puppets who serve masters that see their adversaries as the root of all evil, so the choice come down to the lesser of two evils (unless you are one of the polarized zealots). In one corner you have the current President, who has spent his entire adult career in academia, community organizing, and public service and by nearly all measures and accounts has not had a very successful first term. In the other corner you have a former governor who is obscenely rich and generally out of touch with the average American, but has lots of successful experience in business. Both of these men are members of the political elite and have little to nothing in common with working Americans (granted Obama at least came from a working class background).
When weighing the decision on who to vote for this year there are a number of factors to consider including personal beliefs, the background and experience of the candidates, and who the voter thinks will do a better job. This may not seem like a long list but there is a lot that goes into each factor. When I look at each candidate I see a staunch leftist on one side and a moderate conservative on the other. Folks on the left have tried to paint Romney as a hardcore right winger but that mud just doesn't stick. He was a successful Republican governor in one of the most liberal states in the union; if he was a hardline right winger he never would have gotten elected. I think of Romney as the Republican version of Oklahoma's former governor Brad Henry. Henry, a Democrat, was an exceptionally successful governor in the most conservative state in the union (he won re-election with 69% of the vote). Moderate politicians like Henry, Romney, Bill Bradley, and Bill Clinton are a dying breed and that does not bode well for the future of our country.
With the political system so disgustingly corrupt and polarized, moderate candidate get run out of town (or the party) by the zealots and extremists that control the two major parties. What these hardliners fail to realize is that the most successful governance is that from the center. Both the left and the right have valid ideas and crazy ones and one needs to balance the other. There was a time when that balance was held by moderate politicians that were willing to cross party lines and work together for the betterment of the nation. Now we have people who'd rather shout at the wind then actually do anything productive.
So with this in mind, the question becomes who will be better equipped to handle the economy and try to bring a balance back to the system. That I think is the question that voters should be asking themselves when selecting who to vote for this year.
Dave Brown writes for the Oklahoma Lefty blog and is a contributor to Red Dirt Report. He lives in Moore, Oklahoma.
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