Bad Voters, Bad Leaders

It’s hard not to be dismayed at the choice in front of us. I will not get into a discussion about who, Barack Obama or John McCain, will be marginally worse as president. Your guess is as good as mine. Both know little about economics, both will continue to expand policies that will deepen the coming depression, both will meddle in the affairs of other countries, both will concentrate more dangerous power in the hands of the presidency, and both will violate their oath of office to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution” almost as soon as they swear to it.

The marginally better of two bad choices is no choice at all. If given a choice of Dunkin Donuts or Krispy Kremes, I will eat neither. I am not interested in experimenting with which will wreck my health at a slower rate.

There is a growing consensus, no doubt fueled by our economic crisis, that George Bush will go down in history as one of our worst presidents. I agree with this consensus, but there is no need here to go over his litany of failures. Other writers can do that far better than I can; and no doubt, we can all learn from such assessments. But by themselves such assessments will change nothing, because they say nothing about the beliefs of Americans that have allowed such horrendous bipartisan leadership—from the likes of George Bush, Henry Paulson, Nancy Pelosi, and Barney Frank—to emerge in the first place. Neither Barack Obama nor John McCain will go down all of the same unconstitutional pathways as George Bush; but surely, they will find new ways to take us further from our founding principles.

Look inside, fellow Americans! These men and women who are our leaders reflect on the outside what we have become on the inside. As we go to the ballot box, we are still looking for the magician who can give us something for nothing. We are only at the very earliest stages of looking at our collective societal beliefs that have created this crisis; and thus, we are still far from any solutions. George Bush, Barack Obama, and John McCain are no more to blame for our economy than Dunkin Donuts and Krispy Kremes are for our waistlines.

One of my wiser students, whose father is a physician, e-mailed me this morning:

As my dad says to some patients, you have been drinking a six pack every evening for the last 10 years, you are overweight, smoke, out of shape, and now want a new liver and a new life, go home and look in the mirror and ask how you got here and if you can change yourself for the better without meds.  If you can’t, find another doctor.  It is hard and most people don’t want to have to do that.

This student went on to talk about how it’s the same with the economy. We want our problems to be solved, but we don’t want to change.

Today it was reported that, “An alliance of financial industry interests and consumer advocates on Wednesday asked federal regulators to allow lenders to reduce by as much as 40 percent the amount of credit card debt owed by deeply indebted consumers in a special program.”

We have become almost numb to such insanity. Nowhere in this report is the idea that some attempt be made to recover the ill-gotten gains of consumers’ reckless spending sprees. In today’s America, repossessing their plasma televisions would be cruel and unusual punishment.

An alliance of those on the dole—defense contractors, Wall Street, homeowners underwater with their equity, households in credit card debt, and constituencies far too numerous to mention—will always vote for some variation of more of the same. They will never vote for a Ron Paul type of candidate until they have had a change in their fundamental beliefs. That day is many years and much suffering away.

Have you heard the tale about the scorpion and the hippo? A scorpion is looking for a way to cross a wide river and asks the hippo if he can hop on his back. The hippo says, “I can’t allow you to do that, I’m afraid you’ll sting me.” The scorpion replies, “I would never do that; for if I do, I will drown too”. “Then hop on,” said the hippo. About halfway across the river, the scorpion stings the hippo. They both drown—no surprise here, that’s what scorpions do.

If your Congressman or Senators voted for the bailout, they have already shown themselves to be dangerous scorpions—if you vote for them on Tuesday, don’t blame them when they help to pass the next bailout.

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8 Responses to Bad Voters, Bad Leaders

  1. Tesh says:

    Nicely stated. The only thing I’d disagree with is the hippo… I first heard the story with it as a wolf. 😉

    Funny you mention Ron Paul. He really was the odd man out in the debates. He’s the sort of leader that we need, but apparently, not the one we want.

  2. E says:

    Two thoughts. First, what other Americans are doing is not something I can control. You can get angry until the cows come home, but if most Americans push their lives over the edge, then that is the risk they assume. I’ve already looked in the mirror and we’re in a posture to buy. Pure and simple, the numbers did not bear out in 2006 and we hoarded cash. Some like-minded friends have done the same. So whatever political climate that we end up with, I think we’ll be okay. If we end up with bad voters, then, c’est live.
    Second, if you’ve ever played a sport, you’ll know that sometimes, the best strategy is the one based on change. In one game, we were behind by only two scores, but in reality we were getting beat all over the field. So at the half, the coach pulled all of us over and said, “we can’t overpower them, so we’re putting in all of our quick backs… we’ll run them to exhaustion.” Radical and yet, effective. The point is, right now, we’re behind and getting our butts kicked. As I see it, to go with the Party that put us there, the party of deregulation, the party of smaller government, the party that said “we will look after you”, is getting us nowhere. If I’m going to vote, I want to see what “the other” guy is going to do. (Ron Paul has zero to one percent chance of winning a Presidential election, and since I’m a numbers guy, I never go with “zero to one percent” chances.)

  3. Q W says:

    Your third paragraph. Should it not be ‘partisan’ rather than ‘bipartisan’?

    Partisan bad. Bipartisan good.

  4. Tesh,

    Exactly about Ron Paul!

    E,

    Voting for third parties or not voting at all, helps to hold down the “mandate” that the winner always claims.

    QW,

    I do mean bipartisan, but not in a good sense. Democrats and Republicans may squabble on the margin over who gets the “spoils” but they are united in supporting our current economic policies.

  5. Steve P says:

    Barry,
    Your concern about where politicians and their enablers are taking us is justified. Constrained by economic reality but not their passions or the Constitution, who knows where they will stop while acting out against natural law to bend it’s will to fit their own deluded notions of how things ought to be?
    This is not merely an issue of economics or politics. Those who have acted rationally and responsibly and are financially better off as a result are still participants in a social context that changes in accordance with the collective mood.
    When mood sours, wealth and life are more at risk and those who are perceived to have benefited from others’ “misfortune” can become targets of crime or government edict.
    Authoritarianism feeds on uncertainty and fear. “Leaders” without functional compasses appeal to those without the ability to lead themselves and without an idea of where excactly they wish to be led. My own fear is that individuals will increasingly give up their liberties (and mine) to purchase physical and economic security from those incapable of providing it.

  6. Steve,

    You write: “When mood sours, wealth and life are more at risk and those who are perceived to have benefited from others’ “misfortune” can become targets of crime or government edict.”

    Indeed! Just look at what has happened already–productive taxpayers being looted to subsidize Wall Street, homeowners etc. I know although I predicted the crisis and some of the responses of government to date, that I had no idea of how deep and crushing to our economy and country their responses would be. And they are just beginning.

  7. Bob G says:

    The last couple of posts are stark if not sober assessment sof the currnt reality.

    I am reminded of a quote from a Roman Senator during the slow but steady decline of the Roman Empire, “… he who controls the mob rules Rome.”

    Of course, today the “mob” may not be at the circus or games or settling for bread or cake BUT with discernment one can easily see the same pattern over and over again in human history.

    Much like the natural ebb and flow of the free market, the free flow of the human condition will always see to it that great experiments in freedom, liberty, self-reliance and determination are followed by tyranny, fascism and socialism.

    These in turn will spring up the seeds of a new revolution in liberty, self-determination and freedom.

    Can we not see the forest for the trees??? Is there anyone who would argue that we are not on the downslope of a great experiemnt that is heading towards tyranny, central planning, re-distribution of wealth and socialism??

    In fact, even the historical record is being manipulated to ensure that we get socially engineered context and not the brutal but necessary truth about events.

    Regardless of who wins the Presidential election, nothing will change and our incumbent legislators who are really at the heart of our problems will continue to enable the gradual corruption and systematic destruction of the foudning principles of this great experiment called “America” that lasted for about 175 years before turning towards the decline we are experiencing today.

    Bob G.

  8. Bob,

    I agree that the liberty and freedom will emerge again. That day is at least a generation away.

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