“Are you better off than you were four years ago?” Why that doesn’t matter in the 2012 Election.

One would be hard-pressed to find an American that did not have a difficult time the last four years. America has suffered the worst economic collapse since the 1930’s. Understandably, Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and the Republicans want to hold President Obama accountable for the last four years. They are driving the point home by using an old line. It was October 28, 1980, when Ronald Regan recycled Franklin Roosevelt’s question “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” Normally, a politician can get some traction with this question. Particularly if the past four years weren’t good ones. However, this time it is not relevant and this is why. Nothing is the same now as it was four years ago, and if trends continue we may hardly recognize what comes next in the years leading to 2016.

Economic problems are structural not cyclical.

It would be one thing if the current economic problems were a cyclical bump in the road. That is not the case, what America is experiencing is growing pains from a structural change driven by automation and constantly updating technology. This is a blessing for cost control and efficiency, yet from the employment side it is a curse. What are the employment options for folks who have a lower skill level, now that there is so much competition for coveted positions left in this shrinking job pool? In addition, though it is a good thing to think in ways that create a more environmentally sustainable future, this also causes economic growing pains. For generations, families have built their lives around the coalmines or the oil fields. The choice to move away from fossil fuels is a correct one, however leaders and policy makers need to consider those who are left behind by this fundamental change in how we look at Energy Policy and how that interacts with Labor Policy. These are but a few of the many complex challenges the US Economy faces. Not only domestic pressures, perhaps even more powerful, are the tremendous changes taking place outside of US borders and therefore outside of the President’s direct influence.

The world is not the same.

The world has gone through mind-blowing changes over the past four years. The tumultuous birth of Democracy in the Middle East and North Africa by way of the Arab Spring is one example. This opens up a completely new set of complex and delicate issues to maneuver going forward. Things will not go back to the way they were before. The old answers are irrelevant. In addition, the economic situation with the European Union and its members who are reshaping the relationships they have with one another. This has little in common with the way it was even fifteen years before. The past four years were incredibly tumultuous, creating many unknowns that will need answers.  Can the European Union be successful without sharing political power in order to set consistent  Economic policy? Will the European Union survive the recent economic crisis? The solutions the EU come up with will  impact the United States although the President will have limited, if any control over what happens. Again, this is a minute glimpse of the many issues happening all over the globe. The next President will need to be capable of deftly maneuvering through the historically critical window for as long as it is open during the next four years. This could set the tone in US foreign relations for the next century.

There is no turning back.

The greatest concern about the direction the Conservatives in the Republican Party are taking is that it seems to be going backward. Hearing many Conservatives speak, one wonders if they are in some sort of time machine stuck in 1950’s perhaps in some episode of Mad Men? The warrants that the party operates on seem to be from a bygone era that is no longer true. It is just not like that anymore. The minorities are becoming the majority. Poverty is due to many complex variables not just because people aren’t trying hard enough. Things like pensions, a living wage, and the ability to own a home, which give stability to the middle-class that is the backbone of the American culture and economy. Women’s issues are not just issues for women. Equal pay, affordable early childhood education, food security, and the ability for a woman to decide when and how many children she feels capable to care for are all issues that influence the society as a whole. Thinking in the past in ways that women are not the breadwinners for their homes and other such lost in the ‘50s delusions driving policy is not relevant in 2012 and beyond. The looming possibility of multiple Supreme Court appointments happening in this term add higher stakes to the polices of the candidates. It’s  important to pay attention to those who influence each man, especially those who don’t want to fight once more the vicious fight for women’s personal rights.

Voters will decide.

The “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” question may have worked before. However, we are not in the same world that we were in four years ago. We are not in the 1950’s. America needs to choose the candidate who acknowledges these changes and is able to navigate them. It is difficult for me to be confident in the Romney campaign because the Romney/Ryan Republicans are so intent on living in the past when directing us into the future is so important.  I have much more confidence from seeing Barack Obama’s performance thus far,  that he is the best choice to lead us through the next four years successfully. My confidence about the President’s future success would certainly increase if the Republicans lose big in the local and Congressional races.

Advertisements

My Body, My Business

There is a lot of talk going on in political debate about contraception and  a woman and her partner’s control over reproductive planning. The responsibility and the power comes from the woman’s decision. Why? Because it is the woman that carries the baby.  The woman that goes through the birthing process. The woman which, in a high percentage of situations, is the primary care giver and therefore is the one who makes the most change to her life in order to care for her children, especially during their first five years of life. The first five years are vital developmentally.

I don’t think this debate is about religious freedom. I think the church leaders would like to think so. But if it were about religion we would have policy to eradicate poverty which is mentioned in the Bible 2,000 times. So it’s not about religion. What it is about is the high cost of insurance for women of childbearing age to which I say “Too damn bad.” I say that because the same group of folks who bash “socialist” health care want to leave women hanging by not assisting with her health care needs. Companies which basically own people. They tell them when to wake up, when to eat, when to sleep, when to go to the bathroom, when to take a vacation. So they own them. Even slave owners of the past realized that they have to provide slaves with basic health care. Didn’t these folks get the memo?  With all the money dolled out on studies for employee retention and satisfaction and none of those brainiacs can figure out that people need to have their family needs met to be productive employees? The company should get its consulting money back and apply it to the needs of its employees. And why wouldn’t they want their female employees on birth control? If they are on birth control, they are at work. The whole thing is ridiculous!

Freedom, something so essential to the core of being American. The choices about who I have sex with, when I have sex, what style of sex I choose to have, and when I choose to have a pregnancy result from that sex having is MY business. I shouldn’t have to call up my elected official and ask permission. That is the essence of personal freedom. Now keeping in mind I am talking about sex with two consenting adults. Other than that, it is up to the adults what they do with their bodies. The political right wants to run archaic bills through state houses and Congress without political consequences.  To that I say, “Too damn bad.” They need to be penalized politically for taking our country backwards. That strategy (if that’s what they are calling it) is not going to win the GOP the Independent vote in November.  Independents, like reasonable Republicans and Democrats, are watching the actions not the crazy propaganda coming out of the GOP talking-heads’ mouths. The Republicans could easily lay off the social issues and focus on the economy. Pull together some jobs. Do THEIR jobs for goodness sake. The longer they entertain this penchant for the bad old days is as long as they will be locked out of public office come November.

Santorum rivals Romney in Iowa. Does it matter?

While experts sift through the results of last night’s completely over-analyzed Iowa caucus. Rick Santorum with a well-timed bump in popularity rivals Mitt Romney for first place in the first Republican contest to select their candidate. This caucus is an encapsulation of the Republican schizophrenia that is prevalent today. The establishment that wants a candidate who is not controversial . Someone who appeals to sensible middle-of-the-road folks that want to send someone competent and steady to the White House –without surprises.

Then they have the evangelical Christian wing who would like nothing more than to legislate their religion nationally, while at the same time balking at other governments who may be run by Islamist groups with similar goals in a different flavor. This is the Republican dilemma mixed in with a little Cult of Paul for spice. It’s not an enviable position and is one that weakens the party further going into the national campaign cycle.

Americans are worried about jobs and Republicans are worried about abortions. Something that might happen in a woman’s lifetime one time, for many not at all and yet listening to the Social Conservative Republicans you’d think callous women all over America go out for Starbucks and an abortion at their local Planned Parenthood every other weekend. The astonishing ridiculousness of that line of propaganda is completely absurd, and yet many really smart people buy into it. Enough to win the Election in 2012? I don’t think so. Coupled with the Libertarian Conservative line of pick yourself up by the bootstraps even if you don’t have boots, message that the GOP strategists have pulled from the 2008 files and are recycling once more comes off to many as a patronizing kick in the gut will come off at the polls with, I would imagine, the same results as 2008.

As I listen to the discussion, the first thing that comes to my mind is does it even matter who is chosen to be the candidate? I think it matters less than it has in the past. The strategists focus on that age old question “Were you better off than you were four years ago?”  They focus on individual policy platforms by each candidate and that worked before when the public was barely paying attention. In 2012 things are completely different. Party branding has burned into the public consciousness since 2010. The question in the voting booth on Election Day will not be “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”  The question will be “Who will protect you from them?”  And who is them, you may ask? Well if you are middle-class or lower them would mean the destructive corporate interests, bankers and Wall Street players that place their bottom line before all else. Starving children and choices between food and medicine are none of their concern. If you are one of these particular corporate interests mentioned, the them is everyone else. And from that question the decision will be made for the next President of the United States.

As such, barring any extremist craziness, it really doesn’t matter who the Republican party chooses as candidate. The next Election will be a referendum on destructive partisan politics, legislating religion, government tyranny on civil rights and regarding very personal private decisions such as how one will live their life and protect their health. People have to know how much you care, before they care how much you know. The Republicans have lost a significant portion of the public’s trust. One candidate alone will not be able to fix that.

Politicians everywhere can learn from the downfall of Russell Pearce

Russell K Pearce is a juggernaut of conservatism in Arizona politics. As a person, he has a charm and charisma that even the most liberal of Democrats could begrudgingly admire, and many do. Although media in it’s laziness only wants to focus on immigration,  so that  people think that this  recall is just about making it easier for people to reside in the nation illegally, couldn’t  be farther from the truth.  Differences about Immigration is  the easiest answer to the question about why Russell Pearce was recalled, but it is not the complete answer. The complete answer is important. Current and future leaders should study the real answer, poli-sci students should dissect it, it has happened before and it can happen again.

 For in reason, all government without the consent of the governed is the very definition of slavery. ~Jonathan Swift

Bad things happen when politicians believe the power given by constituents is theirs personally. The fact is the job description demand those elected to office represent the people who sent them to office. Because of forgetting this important fact, politicians make bad decisions that are catastrophic to political careers. A politician must remember that it does not always matter what he/she personally thinks, what matters is how well the people who vote feel represented by the office the official was elected to uphold. The power the official holds is on loan from the people of his/her district and revocation of that power will occur in light of a forgotten agreement.

Enter the special interests. Smooth talking charismatic folks sent to stroke a politician’s ego. Many are friends and acquaintances from business dealings or social groups. They con the politician, who let’s face it, is open to being conned anyway, gets convinced that the power is theirs personally to use. That they hold the sword and it is theirs to do what they like with it. A special interest representative is like puffer fish they puff themselves up to look like they hold a great impact over the politician’s career. Like any pusher or dealer, they try to convince their prey that they need them, that they would be nothing without them. But they are full of hot air and hold only a small impact when their influence is deflated by the people of the community. The politician, distracted by the special interests, forgets the power belongs to the people. His/her job is only to be a responsible steward of the power on loan to him/her.

The reason why Arizona Legislative District 18 recalled Russell Pearce is that he thought the power was his personally to wield as he wished. He also underestimated the power given to him as Senate President. Being Senate President meant he represented the whole State, not just his district. The decisions he made influenced the State and the nation and required more than a hyperpartisan faction view to represent those who had loaned him the power to use for the good of the entire state ofArizona. He used the power as his own, and he did this regardless of what the rest of the City and State that he represented as Senate President wanted.

He lost touch with the people who gave him the power of State Senate President. He forgot about the consent of the governed. He began to believe that he knew better than everyone else did how things should be. Russell Pearce used intimidation to force special interest bills through the legislature. He dismissed the will of the people of the State ofArizonarepeatedly. He continued to shut them out of the Democratic process that is their right, because he felt the process of Democracy was too messy. It is too messy, but it still needs to happen.  Voters tried correspondence, protest, voter initiatives and various other tools at their disposal to get his attention and only as a last resort did they pull out the big guns of recall.

It is my hope that people like Russell Pearce who desire to hold public office will remember again how this system works. It works when the people offer their power to a representative they trust and that representative uses that power wisely and for the greater good of the people, they represent. When that ideal is lost, the people will pull that power back. It’s best to do what one can to avoid recall in this way as it is not a good situation for anyone.

we don’t need an agreement, we need solutions

Whose running the show?

That’s a question many Americans would like to know. It would be helpful to see the obvious ghosts that are in the room with President Obama and the others discussing the debt ceiling debacle.  If we knew exactly who these ghosts were, these shadowy “theys” who are impacting these discussions. If  the specific agenda was brought to light, than perhaps this whole process would make a lot more sense to the rest of us.

My question to our nation’s leaders is “How can you have a real discussion resulting in successful  solutions when you go into negotiations with both arms and one leg tied behind your back in the process?” Meaning, if you go into budget talks demanding  no tax revenue discussions, saying “Our prime job above all else  is to make the President a one-term president”, and we are only looking at numbers, not the human impact associated with those numbers. What kind of real discussion is that? The greatest concern and frustration is that the discussion is about what they can agree upon. It is not necessarily a viable discussion about the best remedy for the debt crisis for the American people.

The people sitting at the table are intelligent and they have made it up the ranks to get to where they are today. These legislators are not novices. So why are they not able to accomplish the task before them? Would it have helped if the President put together his own plan and said “This is it guys,” with a few minor modifications here and there? He hasn’t done that and no one is willing to actually do the work and stick their neck out because they don’t want it chopped off at the polls next Election cycle. Is it reasonable to think that elected officials can make these crucial decisions at all? If they can’t how can this vital work get done in the current system?

Another question comes to mind. Are the voters really as against taxes and reasonable solutions to our current financial situation as the media and Republicans in Washington would have us believe? How much does the Tea Party really represent the average American voter? Also, just because a voter wants something, if it is not grounded in reality should that point of view get to go to the front of the line merely because it is the loudest and frankly, most obnoxious?

Removing the referee adds risk to the game.

Now it is known to some degree that the corporate class would like to see a weak government. It would be their dream to see the Environmental Protection Agency, the Labor Department, the Fed and the Security and Exchange Commission go away so they could have free dominion on the land. Insert mad scientist laugh here.  It behooves the corporate class to have an educated work force and the protection of the US military however they don’t really want to have to pay for that.

There was once a time when the government was the middle-man. The referee if you will,  between the corporate interests and those individuals who may have less clout and power. This system made sure that business could create profits without creating a toxic environment that was not conducive to life. Which was the case during the earlier years of the Industrial Revolution. Government was the referee which kept an even playing field and set reasonable parameters, rules to the free market capitalism game. With no referee there is chaos in which many people get hurt and that is not good for the nation. However, the referees must get paid. It takes money to do the important work these agencies and social programs do.

Too little too late?

It would have been better to have had these discussions about the debt over a decade ago before we got into it. It’s too late now America is in substantial debt to China and other countries up to our eyeballs but that is the past and we cannot take it back now. So what can be done? It’s difficult to understand why talks about closing loopholes are off the table.  It seems a reasonable start to a viable solution. In addition those who would be taxed more in this scenario have been experiencing record breaking profits. They are not looking for where their next meal is coming from.

I’m also tired of this notion that people who are struggling aren’t trying hard enough. That simply isn’t the case. If the cost of living continues to jump with fuel and food prices rising as well as other factors that no one seems to talk about such as how America pays so much in utility, insurance premiums and telecommunications costs. These costs jump sometimes 10% in one year while wages remain stagnant or decrease.

We may need to solve problems not by removing the cause but by designing the way forward even if the cause remains in place. ~Edward de Bono

At the same time people are being asked to take on increased costs relating to the responsibility of saving for college for their children, pay for their retirement, sometimes long term care for their parents and cover unexpected expenses in addition to everyday bills.  The profit margin is simply not there after basic bills are paid. Perhaps a part of the over all solution to this debt crisis is  to raise the base wage. More wages can mean more tax revenue to pay the bills both locally and nationally and be able to take on more financial responsibility for the costs associated with education and growing older.

The other aspect is the human element. Leaders choosing for people to be obligated to work another 10 years of their lives. Why do they get to choose that for people? To pay for their poor planning and leadership? Is this because corporations need to keep people working longer due to the aging work force? Can they not come up with a better incentive than creating an environment of financial obligation one shade away from slavery?

Holding them accountable.

The way these debt talks have gone is irresponsible .  What’s more disturbing is that this is an obvious trend. Should we the public accept this volatile behavior producing mediocre at best policy as the norm? Is there some way to set a higher standard to hold our elected officials to? A standard of statesmanship and decorum. Can we as a nation ever get back to the days of bringing results that are beneficial to the majority of the American people? As an Independent Moderate all I can say is… I sure hope so.

stop dragging us around–the debt ceiling

There once was  a time when  a person voted on Election Day, chose someone to represent them, and then went back to daily life.  There was a basic level of ethics in leadership, a trust and regard that was recognized for the well being of the nation.  Leaders were entrusted to make honorable and fair decisions. There once was  a time that voters could basically vote and forget it, without significant negative consequences to their daily lives. Those days are over.

In the current political environment of hyperpartisanship, perpetual election cycles and 24 hour cable news to constantly blast the public with political party propaganda the climate in Washington DC is not only hostile, it  has become dysfunctional, some could even say volatile. There is a growing concern amongst voters that their representatives are not truly representing them and as a result activism has become more prevalent. This populism comes reluctantly to some as voters feel a resentful need to babysit their elected representatives to preserve their very  survival against special interests especially if they happen to be from the working class.

“This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer,” -Will Rogers

The debt ceiling debate is an example of this irresponsible partisanship. It grows increasingly clear that those who are stuck in the beltway both physically and mentally do not understand that a hostage taking mentality as a first resort is something unacceptable to the public. Independent Moderate or Indy mod voters who were once merely weary of these antics have recently come to feel scorn,  resentment and contempt for those who are not working toward viable solutions for our nation’s future.

As the discussion becomes more heated a vital concern  recently developed which was highlighted on Salon.com in their July 14, 2011 issue which brings up an even more disturbing scenario. Eric Cantor (R-VA) being a vital player in debt ceiling talks while at the same time being invested in a hedge fund that takes profits if the talks fail. Politicians, directly involved in important policy making, standing to  gain monetarily or otherwise having persuasive incentive to allow, even fabricate outcomes which are detrimental to the American public is in no way a policy that should be able to continue. It may be somewhat explanatory of some behavior on the Hill that without that information seems…well…inexplicable.

As a result voters have been caught up in a dangerous game of chicken. Where leaders are driving our nation toward a financial cliff in order to gain street cred for the upcoming election and additional assets in their portfolio. Voters have been  hijacked and put in the proverbial back seat are having the same response as one would in such a situation. Panic and  a lot of shouting in fear at the possible outcome of this unnecessary risk to the well being of the nation.

Considering that we are all in this together. There has to be a better set of priorities and actions by the nations leaders. Not just Government leaders mind you, but also leaders in Business, Non-Profits and the Faith-based community must come together to find a practical cohesive vision that is solution oriented and reality based to take America through this difficult financial transition.

welcome to indy mod p.o.v. a voice for the independent moderate voter

Welcome to indy mod p.o.v. the mission of this blog is unleash into the blogosphere the often muted voice of the moderate independent voter. Those who reside in the middle.  Leaning fiscally conservative and  socially liberal in the middle of the road folks looking to make a fair wage for work done,  demanding a great education for our children, and a safe nurturing inclusive neighborhood to raise healthy, happy kids. Sounds simple.  Indy mods are reasonable, down- to- earth, hard working people. You find us at little league games and sporting events. You may see us at book club or some other community gathering. We have a voice and because it is not as extreme as those far left and right of us our views don’t get much play on the 24 hour cable news cycle.

Now more than ever with the changing world and Election Day 2012 coming up there are many serious and important discussions to be had during this important historical crossroads. This is a great place to start this political discussion.  It is a sincere hope that many will comment and join in on the discussion to create a strong moderate movement to place our country back on track.  Although the primary focus of this blog is American politics, it would also be great to bring together a global community of independent moderate thinking voters for a more peaceful and mutually beneficial global experience. Please join me.