Being and independent voter is a liberating exercise, as it affords the opportunity to look at the candidates from a less-influenced position. From my earlier posts, I believe you can easily glean that I am in favor of keeping President Obama at the helm. Although far from perfect he has done a very credible job in steering our ship, even though his opposition would lead you to believe otherwise. Part of the issue is their need to say “night” every time he says “day,” but the other part is our impatience as a society. Both Democrats, Republicans and Independents can claim this fault. We are looking for panaceas that will cure all of our woes in a flash. Unfortunately, that is not how it works and many of our solutions to our problems will take time. As noted before in earlier posts, that is a key reason we need bi-partisan collaboration and planning, as the solutions will go beyond the term of any incumbent’s office.
I provide this context as one of the President’s strengths, but some would say is a fault from the liberal left, is he has been a moderate from the outset. I have noted before that he and Senator John McCain were not too far apart on many issues. They both were moderates – moderate left and moderate right. That is precisely what we need to resolve our problems – a moderate view that takes in all arguments. It will alienate the extremists on both sides, which has left the liberal left wanting more and the Tea Party in attack mode. I go back to what Warren Buffett said about our President. He said he is the “most judicious editor of information” that he has ever witnessed. He listens to all sides and makes informed choices. This can be a weakness at times, as we need someone to be bolder on occasion, but he is listening to others views.
Unfortunately, he does not get the credit he deserves for this. My main problem with his term has been his lack of willingness to take up the reins of the Bowles-Simpson Deficit Reduction Plan, but other areas – energy/ environment, health care reform passage, connection with the community colleges, getting the first stimulus through which was effective but short of what was needed, foreign policy actions (Iraq, Bib Laden, overall reputation in the world), Dodd-Frank, gays in the military actions and saving the US auto industry are all check marks in his favor. I recognize fully no law is perfect, but he has moved issues forward that are important. And, the economy has slowly gotten better one month at a time, 25 months in a row, but any president gets far too much credit and blame for his ability to affect the economy.
Which brings me to the presumed GOP candidate, Mitt Romney. If the real moderate Mitt carries the day in November, this is a presidency I could tolerate, even though I will not vote for him. Our country dodged a huge bullet when Rick Santorum bowed out and when Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul fell by the wayside. Our country does not need their kind of leadership as it would take us down various paths that we need to avoid. But, as Forrest Gump would say, “that is all I am going to say about that.” Moderate Mitt would bring a perspective not too dissimilar than that of John McCain. In some respects, he is more conservative than McCain while in others he is less conservative. One of his greatest triumphs is the Massachusetts Health Care Law, but he has had to hide from this success. With America’s broken, expensive health care system, Health Care Reform is an imperfect step in the right direction, but it does and has so far, moved us forward. And, it is very similar to what was done in Massachusetts, so don’t let Mr. Romney tell you otherwise.
So, Moderate Mitt would be OK, unfortunately his election would be like that of Andrew Jackson’s when all of his relatives and friends physically trashed the White House. I use this analogy figuratively, but the concern I would have is Mitt Romney’s victory would move us from center left to center right and make his extreme, rowdy friends on the right have more of a voice. And, that would truly be unfortunate for our country. It is hard enough for President Obama to govern when the extreme right hog ties the Speaker of the House and Senate Minority Leader with their shall we say “strident” views and uncollaborative bent. In some respects, I feel sorry for John Boehner, as he gets ostracized when he tries to meet the President halfway. I feel less sorry for Mitch McConnell as he has never shown a bent for collaboration and his primary mission over the last few years to “make Obama a one term President” is Exhibit A to his make up. As I have said before, Senator McConnell, your primary mission is to govern the country.
Just to give you a few of my concerns about the “rowdy friends,” please note the following:
- I am extremely concerned about the GOP’s position on global warming, the environment and desire to do away with the EPA. We fell behind eight years with President George W. Bush in the White House and the premise to do away with the EPA is about the dumbest idea I have ever heard and would be huge disservice to our country and planet.
- I am concerned by the influence of Grover Norquist on the no tax increase pledge. Folks, we cannot cut our way out of our deficit problem – the math will not work. We have 15% of GDP revenue and 24% of GDP expenses. That 9% deficit cannot be achieved only with spending cuts. And, defense spending which is being included in the current budget cuts has to be cut even more.
- The GOP is very out of touch with the middle class on down. We have serious economic equity issues and more than half of those voting for the GOP do not know they are voting against their economic interests. And, before the next person shouts “socialism,” please note Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are socialistic programs. America has tended to take care of its less fortunate dating back to beating back the robber barons’ winner take all efforts. Upton Sinclair highlighted the issues in “The Jungle” and some of his ideas were adopted later by FDR. So, we should reward success, but help those in need climb a ladder out of poverty. If you read “Nickel and Dimed in America” you will note that it is not a truism that you can work hard and escape poverty at all turns in our country. For every Herman Cain, there are thousands of Joe and Jane Smiths who cannot work their way up the ladder.
- Education is our biggest challenge in America. We have a national tragedy that does not get enough attention. Dropping to 23rd and 27th in Science and Math in the world will not cut it. Even the new manufacturing jobs require some education to run the technology and diagnostic equipment. When Mercedes built a plant in Alabama, they had to resort to more pictures in the manuals because of the reading capabilities of the workers. And, per Thomas Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum in “That Used to be Us,” innovation is portable. If the innovators cannot get people to execute their ideas here, they will take the production and innovation management elsewhere. This is also a reason to make sure we keep college bound children of illegal aliens here in our country. They have grown up here so there is a fairness issue, but from an economic standpoint, you do not want to run off smart people.
- From a cultural standpoint, we do not need the Evangelical crowd to have more influence than they do. I am a spiritual person, but we have a separation of church and state for a reason. We have to respect and celebrate our diversity. We have to relish in the freedoms we have in our country. And, we have to frown on people who say “leave us alone, except make sure the other person does this and doesn’t do that.” To me that is the height of hypocrisy. And, as noted in earlier posts, the greatest words in my bible, which are echoed in other religious texts, are “Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.” I looked and Jesus does not caveat these wonderful words with, “unless they are gay, lesbian or Muslim.”
So, if for some reason Mr. Romney carries the day in the fall, I pray that it is Moderate Mitt who governs. I pray he can keep the rowdies at bay as much as possible. With that said, unless a very good third candidate comes out of America Elects (which is possible), I am advocating keeping our President. Mr. Buffett has pegged him correctly.