Saturday, August 20, 2011

Elections Cure Policy Misjudgments

Elections have a way of correcting the miscalculations of voters in this great country of the land of the free and the home of the brave. In 2008, exhausted with George W. Bush because everyone was focused on the man instead of the policies he pursued, the country changed horses and gave Barack Obama a mandate to "change" things. That was all we got over and over again from the candidate, that he would "change" everything with majorities in both houses of Congress. He proved to be a man of his word. "This is what change looks like," he proudly trumpeted after the passage of Obamacare.

With the president's approval rating dropping again, this latest polling result indicates the dissatisfaction with the way things are going in America. Apparently, these "changes" weren't what we had in mind. Not to worry. We have elections here. In 2010, a historic shift in direction in the U.S. House of Representatives happened.

We're still 14 months away from the next general election, and while the markets teeter on the brink, unemployment holds steady at above 9% nationwide, and wars and rumors of wars continue to swirl, conditions appear to be bad and getting worse. However, I'm trying to stay focused on a change in policies that will become self-evident by the time November 2012 rolls around.

There seem to be no easy answers for our dilemma as a nation. I will say this, however, and I believe it to be true: When we make our angst about the person instead of the policies, we are in error. The people who get the most emotional about our state of affairs in America are the ones who attach their emotions to the individuals instead of the policies. You can witness it every night on cable news networks, but it is as old as the Republic.

There are visceral reactions broadcast and published about Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and now Barack Obama, but always and forever these emotional outbursts directed at individuals do nothing to solve our problems and miss the mark. It is fashionable to blame the president for nearly everything, and by design most of it is out of his control because the writers of the U.S. Constitution were determined to assure the dissemination of political power. So stop bashing presidents and singling them out for your vitriol.

There's a better way. Look to support candidates across the board whose policy positions line up with yours. Give up the personality beauty pageants.

We have this unhinged belief in America, seemingly, that one man or one woman can make everything right again. Placing that much confidence in the executive is inaccurate. Speculation still abounds about Sarah Palin -- will she or won't she run? -- but one individual isn't going to turn this ship of state around in the narrow harbor, least of all her.

Commentaries are plentiful about any criticism of President Obama being interpreted as racist. I'd like to think we are past all that, but the allegations persist. The focus is wrong if that is how you line up. Rather, the policies he has pursued are more and more like a mirror image of those pursued by Franklin D. Roosevelt in the aftermath of the Great Depression. History, indeed, seems likely to repeat itself.

This past week further evidence continues to surface and observers suggest we are headed to a "double-dip recession." To expect Barack Obama to reverse course is ridiculous. He has hinted at being hard at work devising a plan to put Americans back to work. Well, who would imagine what that might look like? Here's a safe prediction -- a call for more government spending, more deficits and more debt and taxes. When it happens shortly after Labor Day, don't call me a prophet, just examine the man's policy track record. Predictably, he will blame Congress for being irresponsible.

The policy-based-upon-political-calculations mentality continues unabated. Presumably hunting up more votes as his popularity plummets, we learned last week President Obama is bowing to pressure from immigration groups and has announced a "case-by-case" review of deportation of undocumented residents. Rather than lead in the hard work of legislative immigration reform, this president continues to rule by handing down executive orders. Once again, the president proves to be all too predictable. Rather than enforce the existing laws, he does things his way. Policies, not the individual, remember.

And don't get me started on Obamacare. When the country was on its back economically in 2009, once the executive reins were in his hands with majorities in both houses of Congress, what did he do? He put the idea out that now was the time to pass national health care, presumably to "reform" Medicare, then punted the details to an all-too-eager Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to hammer out the details.

We ended up with an excessive policy overreach in the most expensive entitlement program ever conceived by man, with its most obvious technical flaw -- the individual mandate. The law of the land, opposed in court by 26 of the 50 states and now awaiting appeal to the Supreme Court will in all likelihood (one can hope) be struck down as unconstitutional and the lower court and appellate courts who have reviewed it and come to the same conclusion will be upheld. Instead of leadership, under this administration we have seen widespread uncertainty and little else since its inception.

These few examples (and we haven't discussed unfunded perma-wars in three countries), continue to drag on the economic recovery with little or no leadership from policy makers with the authority to give direction. The policy seems so simple. Rallying votes to make it happen is the problem. The government would be well-advised, it would seem, to stop spending money it doesn't have. There is no such thing as "government money." All money in the government coffers comes from people who own businesses who are taxed to raise government revenue. Restoring government to its proper limited role is the correct policy.

Because we have elections the regulated voters, suppressed by an overarching federal government and feeling their liberties curtailed through taxation (even threats of higher taxes), can push back. Every two years they can vote on every seat in the U.S. House and 1/3 of the Senate. Every four years they can fire the executive POTUS if they feel they got it wrong. That assures America will never stray too far. When someone says they are running to raise taxes to pay for new government programs, as voters we can simply say, "No, enough is enough, and we're going to do something different this time." We will use the ballot box to impose term limits, won't we?

Remember, when government repeatedly demands more and more money telling us they don't have enough, we can do the simple math. Our national debt is now in excess of 100% of our Gross Domestic Product, meaning we are borrowing more than we are producing as a nation. If $17 trillion in debt isn't enough money to operate the federal government and $.40 of every dollar it spends is borrowed to sustain itself, we are not stupid people. We will inevitably take steps through the ballot box to correct the trajectory, won't we?

Our liberty is restrained when we don't. That's why I fundamentally believe we can still stop the expansion of the federal government whenever we see our tax burden growing. The solution is always the same: We can vote for a new batch of elected representatives to run our government, and we'll likely not pick those who advocate this never-never land fable of class warfare. We are smart enough to reject the notion that taxing the rich will bail out the boat and we will give up suggestions of class envy, won't we?

There's more too. We can restrain overreaching government by dismantling excessive regulations. We have a venerated old document struck by our founders, the U.S. Constitution. It has served us well and virtually assured that abiding by its precepts has created the greatest country the world has ever seen. We will not abandon its principles now, and we will defend all the foreign and domestic attacks against it, won't we?

If we will elect people standing for correct principles and policies going forward, and anchor those beliefs in the Constitution, we will begin to turn things around.

We can and we will, won't we?

Resolve now to get in the game for the 2012 election. We all will, won't we?

P.S. I apologize for all the Obama re-election ads that appear on my page. Apparently, Google doesn't have the capacity to figure out I am opposed to every policy position he represents. DO NOT CLICK ON THOSE ADS!!!

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