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.