First, a disclaimer for the US voter:
I will not offer you a voting preference for the November 6 Presidential election. That’s correct, I am not going to pick a side. I will however, ask you to think about your country and its future, and to become a higher information voter. You can pick a side for yourself. For the honestly open minded, it will be an easy conclusion to draw.
First, know this – the average voter in the US is taken advantage of and taken for granted. Politicians pander to you with well researched phrases of very little detail, designed to trigger an instinctual emotional response. They take advantage of the fact that you often have a very short attention span and prefer not to be too involved in thinking about politics. Let’s lengthen that attention span for the next few minutes.
I want you to ask yourself a basic question: what do you know? What do you really know as an absolute, as fact? Not spin, not what you’ve heard, not what you feel, but what do you know?
And then apply that to three questions: who is better for the economy, who can you trust, and what is the ideal America, as a country?
Four years ago, when President Obama was elected, how was the economy? How is it now? What do the facts say?
Spin and rhetoric aside, Business Week has a great report, based on actual data that sums it up. Here is an example of their GDP assessment:
Yes, after a near depression, the economy is growing. The GOP counters this by saying “not fast enough”, but this is insulting to anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of economics and reeks of immature impatience. And to then go on to say that swapping occupants of the Oval Office will speed up the recovery borders on the ridiculous.
Oh and by the way, the stock market has had nearly unprecedented success while President Obama has been in office.
The only conclusion one can draw from this indisputable information is that this President has managed the economy pretty well, under some pretty horrific circumstances.
So what would the GOP do differently?
Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan have been short on budgetary specifics and what little they have offered in details has been widely discounted as not adding up.
Mr. Ryan’s infamous budget has been factually debunked by top economists all over the world and exposed for its hidden agenda. Mr. Romney’s proposed budget would require “very large cuts in Medicaid, education, health research and other programs“.
Numbers don’t lie.
Or as the press most graciously refers to them – “misleading statements”.
Instead of adding up a tally of who has told the most “mistruths”, and both sides have had their share, lets focus on a few that are central to the challenger’s campaign.
The President’s apology tour? Even the Christian Science Monitor says it never happened.
A Libya cover-up? There is no way, at this time, to be certain of what really took place with regard to the attack in Benghazi. However, if we can overcome our short attention spans for a moment, it is pretty easy to look back at other such events, and understand with the benefit of hindsight how confusing the intelligence was before, during and immediately after they occurred.
To suggest that a sitting President would intentionally ignore requests for help is beyond credibility. And even if one could consider it, to think that a President would do so in an election cycle is naive at best.
Consider that this same incumbent made the risky call to kill Osama bin Laden, against vociferous opposition from close advisers, during this same election cycle. Consider if the mission had failed, if soldiers had died. Then consider the ensuing firestorm in the press and from the GOP and what that would have done to his reelection chances.
He made the call, know this all fully. It is difficult therefore, to think he would have treated Libya any differently, had he been given the chance via credible information and communication.
While this fits a narrative long espoused by the GOP of this President being “not up to the job” and while our own expectations in the era of Twitter and Facebook are of instantaneous proportions, intelligence gathering and assessment, from half a world away, does not work that way.
And believe me, you don’t really want it to work that way.
What kind of America?
I have a couple of large ideas I want you to ponder for a moment.
First, with the help of an excellent article by Charles P. Pierce over at Esquire Magazine, it might be a good time to revisit the often cited founding principles of America.
I strongly suggest you read the entire article, and focus on these main points:
“The Declaration of Independence is a lot of things, but a laissez-faire charter of rights isn’t one of them — and the Constitution itself lays a burden of commitment on all of us to maintain those things in which we have a common interest, including the general welfare and the common defense. We, The People is more than a statement of purpose. It is an acknowledgement of an obligation to each other.”
“We owe each other a debt. We owe each other an obligation. That is the thing to which we truly commit ourselves if we follow our Constitution. It is a charter that enumerates individual liberties, but it is not a license for unbridled greed or reckless political solipsism. We owe each other a debt and we owe each other an obligation, and because of these fundamental American imperatives, there are things that we own in common with each other, and that we are obliged to protect for our posterity. The water. The trees. The wild places in the land. We lose sight of these truths sometimes.”
And the most important thing Pierce says, in my opinion, is this:
“A basic philosophy of selfishness is being inculcated into our politics. It will render us incapable of reacting when our democratic patrimony is swindled out from under us. There are thieves abroad in the land, making off with the blessings of the political commonwealth, and their most basic alibi is that it never existed in the first place. Once we accept that as our true history, the future is pretty much lost.”
The emphasis is mine, and I think Pierce articulates in one article, the whole reason for the existence of this website – to cut through the lies and manipulation.
Pierce’s reminder of what America was really set up to be, ought to be in your mind when you consider what I would describe as a worst case scenario from Juan Cole. First, let me say that I have been a fan of Juan Cole’s writing at Informed Comment for some time. His insights on Middle East affairs is required reading. And while he doesn’t hide his political leanings, I think in this article, he makes a couple of points that should nevertheless be considered:
“The mainstream media and even Democrats have been slow to call Mitt Romney’s deliberate falsehoods “lies.” But after just calling them what they are, it is also important to analyze their meaning. Lies on Romney’s scale do not simply show contempt for the intelligence of American voters. They show contempt for democracy, and display some of the features of capitalist dictatorship of a sort that was common in the late twentieth century.”
“Capitalist dictatorship has many similarities to fascism, but differs from it in lionizing not the workers of the nation but the entrepreneurs of the nation. Fascism seeks a mixed economy, whereas capitalist dictatorship privileges the corporate sector and attacks the non-military public sector. But both try to subsume class conflict under a hyper-nationalism. Both glorify military strength and pick fights with other countries to whip up nationalist fervor. Both disallow unions, collective bargaining and workers’ strikes. Both typically privilege one ethnic group within the nation, marking it as superior and setting up a racial hierarchy.”
Now admittedly, Cole’s hyper-partisanship is not something aspired to here at The Wary Lemming. So why do I include it?
First of all, his political views do not in any way negate his points. And more importantly, if Pierce is correct that the US Constitution has been re-interpreted by those who are inhabited by selfish greed, then what are they turning the country into? As crazy as Cole’s argument may seem upon first reading, the real worry is that if voters allow themselves to be manipulated and in some cases disenfranchised, it is impossible to know what will result.
Before we dismiss Cole as wrong, ponder the right wing attacks on the bailouts of GM and Chrysler, including attacks on the unions – and their now feigned concern about jobs being shipped to China – whipping up that nationalist fervor. Ponder the overt fear from the right wing that America is becoming a nation of minorities – as articulated by Mr. Romney himself, and wonder how that manifests itself in attacks against a visible minority President. Ponder their opposition to the Affordable Care Act, which borders on indefensible, and ask yourself why you shouldn’t be concerned with each other’s general welfare.
Oh, and remember, the “Big Lie” is by definition, one that seems credibly impossible.
As a last thought, I will simply refer you to some links following this article that highlight some of my earlier thoughts on truth, facts and politics.
I also urge you to vote.
And as I told my readers in Quebec, Canada during their recent election, it is far more productive to vote for something than to vote against it.
Vote for whom you think best suits your personal priorities, but also consider the priorities of your family, your community, your state and your country.
And this is important:
With so many things to assess, resist the temptation to simply stay home.
I guarantee you that if you do stay home, you most definitely will not get the President you want.
You’ll get the President someone else wants.