The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Posts tagged ‘elections’


By way of full disclosure let me say that I have voted in every primary and general election since I was twenty-one and eligible to do so.  Despite the fact that I identify more with the stated ideals of one of the two major parties than the other, I have never voted a straight ticket in any of those general election contests.

Both parties have their share of hacks and heroes – and I have always tried to find the best candidate for each office irrespective of whether their name on the ballot had a (D) or (R) by it.  I realize that puts me in the minority of voters.  Now that I think about that, I wonder if that entitles me to some kind of government subsidy.  I’ll have to check that out.

I will never forget doing precinct work, going door to door and speaking with registered voters about their choice for governor in a contest in which then Illinois Gov. Ogilvie was trying to get re-elected versus a populist Democratic candidate, Dan Walker.

I had a voter list of the precinct I was canvassing and knew who were the registered Republicans and Democrats and those who had declared no party affiliation.  My goal was to speak to every one of these voters and get an indication of whom they supported in this race.  Then on election day, to make sure that the Governor’s supporters got out and voted.

I knocked on one man’s door – a registered Democrat – and as I was wearing my Ogilvie button he knew why I was there and wanted to speak with him.  But he was surprisingly receptive and cordial to my interrupting his prime time television viewing.

After a few minutes in which I talked about the things that the governor had done for Illinois I asked him if we could count on his support.  Much to my surprise, the accomplishments I had listed were dwarfed by this man’s praise for the governor and his enumeration of other things that he thought the governor had achieved.

So I said, “Well, sir that’s great.  Then can we count on your vote on election day?”

He said, “No, I have to vote for Walker – even though I think he’s a jerk.  I’m a Democrat and I work for the city.”

I mention this experience for one reason.  So many of us cling to a political sense of partisanship that goes beyond reasonable expectation.  And this is even more true of those politicians who are members of that party.  They will defend to the death the most outrageous and egregious behavior of other members of their party rather than betray their allegiance.  And with that as background, we now come to the subject of this post.

In the last week former President Clinton has twice made statements that conflict with the stated goals and policies of President Obama.  The latest of these was his endorsement of extending the Bush tax cuts – an idea which the current president opposes.

Why this break in Democratic party solidarity?  Certainly, President Clinton knows better.  So is there something else behind this?  I would like to suggest a possible scenario.

We all know that the November, 2012 election is going to be a close one.  In large measure the outcome will depend on how the economy improves or fails to do so.  So what could make the difference in who gets the votes necessary to administer the country for the next four years?

One of the claims coming out of the negative campaign which President Obama is conducting is that things were Utopian under Clinton (a Democrat), got bad under Bush (a Republican) all of which he inherited and that his opponent Mitt Romney (a Republican) was an evil doer as Governor of Massachusetts and as a private businessman following the Bush rather than the Clinton tradition.

Now if former President Clinton (the standard bearer for truth, virtue and prosperity) breaks with President Obama – doesn’t that cast a shadow of doubt for those who can see that the economy simply is not recovering despite government bailouts, massive Federal Reserve intervention and Congressional stimulus plans all endrosed by Obama?

Now into this fray enters Obama’s opponent, Governor Romney.  He has a record both in the public and private sector – of which you might either approve or disapprove.  He has standards which you might or might not share.  And given the tepid reception that he has received even within the Republican party, it would be fair to say that voters view him as uninspiring.  Governor Romney doesn’t have the same media appeal that President Regan or even President Obama have.

So here’s my thought.  In a tight election anything can happen and most likely will.

Here are two possible outcomes.

1)  Obama wins re-election.  We continue down the same path which we have seen for three and one half years or speed down it at an even faster pace.  The country and economy continue to flounder.  We are now at the election of 2016 and the country has woken up to the fact that Obama’s (the Democratic Party’s) way of doing things has been a dismal failure.  No matter how appealing the Democratic candidate might be in 2016, his or her election is impossible.

2)  Romney defeats Obama in November.  He provides competent though uninspiring leadership.  Things get  better – but President Romney never captures the hearts of the American electorate.  He is vulnerable in his re-election bid.  Enter Hillary Clinton as the nominee of Democrats in that election, a woman with certain credentials to her name – most recently as Secretary of State – a position in which she has earned both a title and a certain amount of obscurity.

It is seldom that I can speak honestly of our politicians having a long-term view of things.  But if there is one, it is in how they regard their own futures.  On that topic they are supremely prescient.

Could the reason for former President Clinton’s break with his party’s nominee, the sitting President have anything to do with his wife’s political aspirations?

It’s something to consider.

As a footnote, in the election for Illinois Governor, Dan Walker defeated incumbent Governor Ogilvie by a very narrow margin.  He served only one term as the people of Illinois saw the economic disaster he wreaked on the State in those four years.

After leaving office he was indicted and convicted of bank fraud and served a prison term.

Partisan politics exacts a very expensive toll on each of us.  The people of Illinois came to realize that.  The question at issue this November is will the voters throughout our country have the wisdom to learn from their experience?


Most of us do not go out of our way to look for trouble.  Trouble seems capable enough of finding its way to our doorstep without our having to solicit it.  But occasionally, something that is so important is presented to us that we have no choice but to take action – even if that poses a threat to our safety.

In my view, the election of November 6, 2012 is just precisely that kind of an event.

This election may be the most important in my lifetime because it will shape the way America functions, not only for the next four years but, possibly for decades to come.  By that I refer to the implications of President Obama’s making appointments to the Supreme Court during the course of a second term should he be re-elected.  That is the gravest concern should Mr. Romney lose his bid to defeat the incumbent this November.  Of course, it is not the only reason for concern.

The immediate implications of an Obama second term are that we will continue to muddle along in the same way that we have now for three and a half years with rising deficits, continuing record high unemployment and nobody at the helm to offer positive programs, guidance or encouragement.  We both need and deserve better as individuals and as a nation.

In fairness to the President, he has a willing partnership in ineptitude which he shares with the Congress.  One of the bumper stickers I created, referring to members of that august institution reads, “Never before have so few done so much to screw so many.”  Even the most partisan of us have to admit that there are many members of our party serving either in the House or the Senate who haven’t had a creative idea since Moses was a pup.  Those people should be replaced by We The People.

Well, the subject of bumper stickers brings me to the title of this quote.  Late last year I wrote up more than one hundred slogans for them and found a local graphic designer who did the artwork.  The subject matter covered President Obama, the Congress and our need as a people to take responsibility for our actions – whether in terms of healthcare or driving, among other subjects.   These are issues about which I have written frequently on this blog.

Of course, every writer would like to think that all of her work is brilliant, but pride of authorship often belies the truth.  So I asked some friends and neighbors to review these slogans and see which ones had the most appeal to them.  They were very courteous in doing that for me.

One of the comments that was made was, “Oh, you’re not going to put these on your car, are you?”  That seemed a curious statement to me as, if the appropriate place for a bumper sticker weren’t on your car, well then, where exactly were you supposed to put it?  So I said, “Of course I am.”

“You know, you may get your car ‘keyed’ if you do that.”

Notwithstanding their warning I displayed four of my favorites on my car and have done so for the last five months.  If we are not free to express our opinion in the United States – we might as well move to Iraq.  There has been no “keying” done during all that time – until last night.

A friend invited me to join him at a restaurant in North Las Vegas.  The restaurant was located in an area where during the 2008 election, according to election statistics, ninety-five percent of the residents voted for President Obama.  As I started for the dog park this morning, I noticed that both on the driver’s and passenger’s side of my vehicle there was evidence of scratches made by someone’s key.

I cannot say definitively that this property damage was done by a supporter of President Obama – but I think that there is a high probability of that being the case. I do not believe the President would endorse this sort of bad behavior.  In fact, I’m sure he would not.  This speaks not to the President but to a hooligan who happens to support him and who has little respect for other people’s rights or property.

Well, cars can be touched up and re-painted.  In the ultimate scheme of things this is not a big deal and both my car and I will survive this episode.  My car, however, will potentially be subject to yet more damage in the months ahead because, if anything, this has simply firmed my resolve to display my bumper stickers and to voice my opinion.

I mentioned in an earlier post that when I was in college I was ambushed by three thugs who kicked me unconscious and stole what little I had on me.  I spent five days in the hospital with a concussion – and came close to losing the sight in my left eye.  The worst part of this episode was breaking this news to my parents.  I made a full recovery and the incident lingered with me only as a bad memory.

My parents wanted me to transfer schools – or at the least – find an apartment away from school and commute to classes.  I thought about that suggestion and realized that their only motivation was concern for my well-being.  But I felt they were wrong and I told them why I thought so.

“There are good people and bad in the world.  They come in both sexes; they come in every color; they subscribe to every religion or lack of one; they are young and middle-aged and they are old; the are rich and they are poor.  But if all the good people run away and try to hide themselves from the bad ones – those people will eventually find them.  No, I refuse to change where I live because a few cowardly thugs mugged me.  I won’t give them the satisfaction of scaring me into moving.”

I stayed and lived in that neighborhood for many years until moving out west – and I am grateful that I never had a repeat performance of that grizzly encounter that winter night.

So I will continue to display my bumper stickers on my wounded vehicle until the election this November.  I am offering up my car as a willing sacrifice.

But it does make me wonder…

If some of the President’s supporters are willing to engage in this sort of activity before the incendiary and divisive rhetoric of the campaign has even begun, what will they do should their candidate lose his bid for re-election?

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