On the eve of the election, I’m confident on how I chose to vote tomorrow. There is urgency to this election that compelled me to go beyond the criteria by which I made my election decisions in the past.
How did I learn to cast ballots? In middle and high school, we are taught to elect class officers. And Homecoming queens and kings. And Prom courts. Generally, we train to vote by participating in popularity contests. There is no essence of urgency in the elections, no need for substance, just a desire to elect those that we most admire, those we would like to have been more like. Popularity, beauty and charisma are the deciding persuasive factors.
How do we develop our skills at electoral decision making once we become adults? Is it not all too comfortable to conform to the normal curve describing the political perspective of that region from which we come? Chicago Democrats. Philadelphia Democrats. Boston Democrats. Arizona Republicans. Texan Republicans. Do we take on the political perspective of our parents? I was raised in Waukesha County, Wisconsin. Years after I’d moved on to chase jobs and career across many states in our nation, I learned that Waukesha residents considers themselves to be amost steadfast conservative, right wing electorate – perhaps as right wing as any in the country. I’ve lived and worked in Arizona and northeast Ohio, both bastions of conservatism. But I’d come from a place that considered itself pure right. And I didn’t even know it. It was the norm.
Now, in 2012, our nation is as polarized as ever. The mid-right and mid-left are stretched and pulled by the extremes. We have an election before us that promises potential for the greatest political restructuring of our national government since – well, since Lincoln was elected. That is the last time the integrity of our Union’s federal government was challenged with the threat of dissemblance, disempowerment and dissolution.
I’ve listened during this campaign season to persuasion and propaganda. I’ve heard lies and the absence of bold and visionary plan making. I’ve been confused by the tone of contempt and disrespect that has been cast at our candidates. I can’t find a homecoming king to vote for. It’s just not that easy.
I’ve read pundits and professors, opinions, editorials. There are many really smart people well versed in politics who write amazing, convincing essays on why or why not our candidates will lead us forward, or to doom and disaster. Opinions are like navels; everyone’s got one.
I’ve recognized my ignorance in important disciplines upon which politics levers national posture. I’ve aimed to make up for lost years of not paying attention. Remedial political science has become my hobby this past year. I’ve studied economics, national debt, budgets, Paths to Prosperity, pleas for unfounded trust. It’s essential; you just can’t vote like it’s high school. It’s not that simple.
I get little peace of mind from any of it. Who do you trust?
I examined the issues, and I found that keeping it simple may lead to the clearest understanding of fact. What can be more simple than Wikipedia? Can I trust Wikipedia? Here is what stands out:
Jobs: Which party has the best record for keeping Americans working?
Take a look at a graph of job creation since FDR in the Great Depression:
During that time, there have been nine Democratic terms of presidency and nine Republican. The average job creation for each Democratic term was 2.12% per year. The Republican average was less than half of the Democrats pace, 1.08%. A look at the graph during the years of the onset of President Ford, Reagan, Bush I and Bush II is marked by several years of downfall in employment. Why is that? I can’t figure it out. The only term during the past 75 years that had negative job creation belonged to George W. Bush during his last four years. Otherwise, the growth curve remains relatively constant in an upward trend.
The National Debt: We are all concerned about how fast our nation is growing our debt. Who’s been behind this debt growth?
Again, look at the data.
Not much acceleration in debt accrual from FDR in the 40’s until the late 70’s, and even then it was modest expansion of debt load under Nixon, Ford and Carter. But then, what happened in the 80’s? Reagan, trickle down economics, a dream of a 400 boat navy, and fiscal deregulation, perhaps? And who were those Keaton five guys? Didn’t they build Houston and other cities into modern high rise cities before the default of the savings and loan debacle? What was that, just a shot across the bow for warning America about untethered deregulation of fiscal policy? It seemed like we heard the warning by the 90’s, when growth of the debt calmed. But was that decade nothing more than the calm before the storm of the first ten years after the millennium? Goodness, what did we buy on credit between 2000 and 2008? Who did that? Was that sound fiscal policy?
Here’s another view of our flight into debt, considered as a fraction of our gross national product.
The shaping of our debt does not follow the script of the campaign rhetoric. How come debt goes up with Republican leadership? And explain the downturn in percent of gross national product that is expended on debt when Democratic presidents are in office. Maybe the ‘Tax and Spend” rap that the Democrats bear helps keep the debt down. Maybe you can’t cut taxes if you expend capitol on wars, boats and planes.
Jobs, economy and national debt. The big three issues of the election of 2012. What does history tell us about those issues and this election? How should we consider our history when we shape our decision for voting.
I still look at the candidates. It is the way I was trained. Deep within, I want a superior being to be our Nation’s leader. I’m still attracted to vision, charisma, and integrity. I don’t look at race. I look to leaders who treat all people with respect and dignity. Like they love and care for all those who make our country. I look at truth, steadfastness, kindness of heart, as well as the lack of arrogance or the hint of a liar. A hint of humility would be frosting. Pure frosting.
Am I aiming for perfection? Is there anybody qualified?
I pay attention to how we aim to defend our country during the lives of my children and grandchildren. We can’t afford to build capitol war machines and blow them up in order to bully the world into towing the line. Our first line of defense is the education of our greatest resource, the minds of our fellow Americans. If we fail to educate, we fail to defend. We can’t cull teachers and build boats. We won’t have anyone smart enough to build and sail them. We can’t just recruit the best ‘Medal of Honor’ video masters to man our drones. That’s too narrow a defense. We need to defend ourselves by arming our youths with education that can create capitol.
It gets so complicated. It’s not as easy as dogmatically raising and waving a flag of position that is infallible. It’s not an issue of heady righteousness, but rather of truth. We must find the truth of our national spirit. Seems like we see truth differently, each of us voters.
I seek truth as I cast my ballot. Ultimately, this year I’m voting not on promises of what could be, but on performance records of the parties that have taken charge of our country’s future. Our deeds define our national truth.
I hope the winner of this election is the American people.