For the last Sunday before the General Election, I watched This Week with George Stephanopoulos and Face the Nation with Bob Shieffer. More and more talk on how close the race between Romney and Obama really is and those congressional majorities are both going to be razor thin. But I thought the most interesting was between the programs from 10 AM to 10:30 AM, I turned on the CBS program Sunday Morning and they covered a story about Ohio Congressman Steve LaTourette, a Republican who opted not to run for re-election.
Unlike typical Republicans and Democrats serving in congress at this time, Steve LaTourette has opted to reach across the aisle. The end result is he alienated both parties. He had a plan that involved some spending cuts and some tax increases. He had the support of one-hundred members of congress (net both houses). But those ranks were reduced to thirty-five before the bill got to either floor because the senators and congressman, both parties, got bashed with phone messages, emails, tweets, and the like warning them of consequences (most-likely re-election) if they went along. Not only did LaTourette fail with Democrats, but was ostracized by his own fellow Republicans. Though popular in his district, he saw another term in congress was an exercise in futility and is stepping down on 1-3-12.
Kind of reminds you of what happened to Jesus in The Bible. Jesus had twelve (12) disciples and was betrayed by most of them in the end; the ultimate traitor, Judas Iscariot who turned him in to the enemy, Pontius Pilate, and you know the rest. This is not to say Steve LaTourette was ever chosen to be the savior with respect to American balancing the budget. But it is an interesting paradigm.
I cannot tell you whether it is Romney or Obama who is best skilled at breaking up gridlock and working with the opposition party. The sad thing about LaTourette is he did have a plan; a flawed plan in that you have to curb unemployment and get wages up before you can increase taxes and we have to make due on spending cuts alone until we progress in job creation, but a plan. The Romney plan is far from perfect either, but Obama has no (new) plan at this time; he is just trying to remarket his failed plan which includes Obamacare and lots-o-spending.
Even if Obama is a better bridge to the gap in the parties, the ability to work with the opposition is useless with no plan. Even if one can make five-hundred-thirty-five senators and congressmen to sit up and beg, you still need to present them a commodity greater than zero. The Romney plan which includes spending cuts, vouchering, tax cuts for the middle class, same taxes for the wealthy but eliminating deductions, may not add up to a tee, but its effect on America’s road to recovery is nonetheless a start and by postponing massive tax increases to business owners who have the ways and means to create jobs, can ultimately pave the way. Tax increases to both the wealthy and middle class can be considered when and only when higher wages and higher taxes is more net pay for workers and more net profit for owners than current wages and current taxes.
There are two ways gridlock can be broken and the wheels in Washington can spin once again. The first way as voters is to load up the executive and legislative branches with virtually all members of the same party. But be careful what you wish for. First of all, if everybody agrees on everything, there are only two possibilities; either everybody’s right or everybody’s wrong and if everybody’s wrong, everybody will think they are right. A wise man I met at a business function named Joe Markowitz once said, Pigs don’t know pigs stink. The other problem is the prophesy of John Locke; Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. Even if you elect saints to the presidency, the vice presidency, and five-hundred-thirty-five saints to congress, ever since Adam and Eve ate the apple, we are forced to live in Satan’s domain and everyman (except Jesus himself) and everywoman that has ever lived in the history of mankind has fallen short of complete glorification of God. Resisting ALL temptation is impossible, even among the most morally upstanding people in the history of planet Earth. Even though I am a loyal Republican devoted to the conservative cause, I need the opposition in my life, which is the only true checkpoint we have. Sometimes we are right and they make a concession to us, sometimes we are wrong and we make an concession to them. As long as we are on this imperfect hunk of mud, that is as good as it gets.
The other way to get the gears moving is deal more directly with the constituents themselves. As I mentioned on a prior article, the divide among Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, is wider than just Washington, D.C. Beyond both Wall Street and Main Street, all the way to Elm Street and Mockingbird Circle; everyday citizens, family men, homemakers, and their teenagers reaching voting age. But people with no political ties and no political agenda of their own are a little easier to reach. The first part of the equation takes one person. It could be the President, a senator, a congressman, or an average citizen as well. A person with a plan; a person who can work not just with a lectern and a microphone, but a display table with the machine they created and demonstrate how the gears turn, what it produces, and what features make it perform more efficiently and productively than anyone else’s machine. In the case of an idea for legislation to solve a problem or make a better nation, charts and graphs with the facts. Remember those who betrayed LaTourette because they got bombarded with messages of consequences if they supported the LaTourette compromise? The second part of the equation involves all the people. As I have iterated many blogs; as Lincoln said at Gettysburg, we are a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Now the people who see this machine and are sold on it need to blast their senator and congressman with phone messages, emails, tweets, even old fashioned U.S. Mail letters and speaking up at town meetings, that voting aye for the machine will ensure re-election next time. Now we cover the both the plan and the work by both parties to implement the plan. The underlying assumption here is the people must be people who participate by voting. So the age old message and preceding step to the afore mentioned is register. Then use your vote. If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain. Obey the law too—so you are never disenfranchised and can always participate. It is not just about you!
Of the two ways to get the Washington, D.C. machine working again, the latter makes much more sense than the former. Even in the best of scenarios, it is still critical government be limited and passive a majority of the time. The machine in Washington is not broken, just idle in neutral at this time. It shifts into first gear does its best work when its citizens as well as its elected officials are as Alexander Hamilton and James Madison stated in The Federalist Papers, all be self-governing. With the need for knowledge of the separation of powers, the structure and function of each branch, and the constitutionality test that every piece of legislation must pass before it can even be inked onto a bill, education is not only a necessary nutrient, but the main course a man or woman must ingest in order to be self-governing. That is what’s broken—our educational system is broken. I know it cannot be transformed overnight into a world-class educational system with a $16 Trillion deficit, but some common-sense reforms that cost little to no money can be implemented right away. I will explain more on this in future blog articles.
For the most part, if Obama is re-elected, he will either continue with his perfunctory politics or he will sell out to the Republicans alienating his own Democrat base. It will be harder for him to recover from this than if the reverse scenario happens to Romney because Obama will be at the maximum with respect to term limits. Being constitutionally prohibited to run for a third term, he will be made into a lame duck with a four year life span. With the lack of results from an Obama presidency, Romney will have two advantages; he will eligible for re-election in 2016 so he one of the requirements of his first term will be to earn a second, and with respect to the victims of high unemployment and the subsequent struggling, the tendency is to vote for change and right now the Democrats are the status quo albeit we Republicans did get the House of Representatives in the 2012 mid-term election; Romney and the Republicans represent change as of right now; change middle America is hungry. I understand the sentiments of many working and middle class, Democrats and independents when they annunciate Obama spent the first term of his presidency cleaning up Bush’s mess. I am not going to attack or defend George W. Bush at this time but I am going to say we have no time to cry over spilt milk. America is at the witching hour of its existence as the world leader in freedom and democracy. Achieving a balanced budget or at least a drastically reduced deficit through spending cuts without raising taxes is a Hobson’s choice—the alternative will most-likely be national bankruptcy. I will go out on a limb and light a candle for Barrack Obama; I will always admire his courage to become the first African American president of this great nation. But the time is now for Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Republican conservatives, and conservative ideology and policy. I hope to see you at the polls Tuesday.