Campaign Financing

Is anyone else dismayed at the obscene amounts of money being spent on campaigns this election season? Obama has raised more than $600 million in his quest for the presidency. He originally stated – promised – that he would participate in the public financing system. Yet, when he started raking in millions of dollars, he broke his promise and started spending as much as he could. John McCain held to his vow to use public financing, which limits his overall spending. Obama can spend as much as he wants to. On every major websites from news to YouTube to Facebook, I see nothing but Obama ads. He is running one of the biggest advertising campaigns in history and it’s working. Social psychologists have shown that people like those to whom they have more exposure. The more advertisements we see or hear for Obama, the more likely we are to like him and therefore vote for him, regardless of his policies or competency. Obama, with his hundreds of millions, can vastly outspend McCain and effectively buy the presidency.

This is the biggest issue I have with how campaigns are run. Those with the most money (not just their own but also that of donors) will often win the election. It’s not always true but it’s sad that our elections are so money-focused. I think it would be better if the candidates were given a specific amount of money (let’s say $20 million) and had to manage that money effectively for their campaign. I know that it is important to get to know the candidates but candidates do not need to spend anywhere close to what they do. It would be interesting to see what pre-election polls were like if Obama and McCain had the same amount of money to spend. Whatever happened to electing the most qualified candidate and not the one with the deepest pockets (who could be the most qualified but that doesn’t detract from my argument)?

A Plea For a Return to the Constitution

I wrote on the topic of judges before. My bias towards constitutional interpretation by justices is for them to be strict. The constitution was written by very wise men who understood what would make a strong, democratic republic nation. They set up a system of checks and balances where the legislative branch made the laws, the executive branch endorsed or vetoed the laws, and the judicial branch made sure the laws were constitutional. For many years, the judicial branch always seemed to be the weakest of the three. Now, some within the judicial have turned it into almost a dictatorship. Take same-sex “marriage” as an example. Laws (passed by a significant majority of the people) prohibiting marriage from being redefined as applying to the relationship between two same-sex individuals, were overturned by justices who believed such laws were unconstitutional according to state constitutions. In each of the three states that allow same-sex “marriage”, the laws were overturned on faulty logic and very liberal interpretations of state constitutions (I’m being generous to state that the judges were actually doing any sort of interpretation based on the state constitutions).

This new breed of judges are actively legislating, forcing states to redefine the word “marriage” to include same-sex couples. This now means that in order to overturn these unconstitutional rulings, state constitutions have to be amended by the people. It’s like the judges are stealing from the people then requiring them to buy the goods back from them at grossly inflated prices. When some of the amendments fail to pass, same-sex “marriage” advocates tout that as a great victory for them – “See! Most people support what we do.”

This breed of activist judge has usurped the power of the Constitution and given themselves the authority to create laws. Now they are in a position where redress against them is difficult because they hold most of the cards in the deck. They are unabashedly strangling our government – all in the name of tolerance and “fairness”. They look down on the people of this country and feel that they have to make decisions for us because we do not know any better. Of course, the majority of judges in our country are honorable and good people. The problem is that we have a few in certain key positions who are abusing their power and there is little we can do about it, short of amending constitutions.

For this reason, I can not vote for Obama. In the past he’s already made it clear that he wants judges selected on the basis of who can feel the pain of minority groups (it’s an admirable quality but not something that should be the defining characteristic of judges) rather than who will be able to judge according to the law. Even though Obama states he is opposed to same-sex “marriages” he would do nothing to stop them. He also would appoint new Supreme Court justices and other lower-level judges who very loosely interpret the Constitution (especially since we will likely have a fairly strong Democratic majority in Congress). We need a president who will appoint strict Constitutionalists. We as citizens need to exercise our right to vote and vote in people who are willing to uphold the Constitution with their actions and their lives. We need elected representatives and officials who can provide strong moral leadership and who can act with integrity and honesty. We need representatives and officials who will stand up for traditional values – for the sanctity marriage, for family, for freedom of and not from religion, and for fiscal responsibility. We need leaders who will return America to its place as a standard on a hill and a candle on a candlestick so that it might be a light for all nations.

To quote Barry Goldwater: “We can be freedom’s missionaries in a doubting world. But…first we must renew freedom’s mission in our own hearts and in our own homes…. Those who seek to live your lives for you, to take your liberties in return for relieving you of yours, those who elevate the state and downgrade the citizen must see ultimately a world in which earthly power can be substituted for Divine Will, and this Nation was founded upon the rejection of that notion and upon the acceptance of God as the author of freedom…. It is our cause to dispel the foggy thinking which avoids hard decisions in the delusion that a world of conflict will somehow mysteriously resolve itself into a world of harmony, if we just don’t rock the boat or irritate the forces of aggression — and this is hogwash.” (Source).

We need freedom from tyranny abroad and at home. The judges who taken upon themselves legislative roles are acting as tyrants and we must not stand for it. We as Americans never have for any great length of time. It is time to stand up and say, “Enough! We’ll have no more forcing the will and morals of a small minority on the will of the majority.” We must reject activist judges and those who would appoint them; we must elect those who will strive for a stronger democracy and not a stronger aristocracy.

Thoughts on War

I’ve never been in a fight in my life – I had the occasional squabble with siblings when I was growing up but I’ve never really fought anyone, ever. I despise conflict and ill-feelings. I believe in cooperation over competition. I also hate war and the suffering it causes. I think there is little on earth more wasteful of life than war. I wish that all conflicts in life could be ended without war. However, and this is a big however, I also recognize that war is sometimes and unfortunately very necessary.

There will always be those who believe that violence is the only way to further their ideals of oppression and restriction of freedoms. Some people believe that violence is the only way to solve their perceived problems. As long as such people exist, there will always be the need to respond in kind. We also need people who are willing to respond in kind. I’m not one of those people. I’ll fight if called upon to fight, I will even volunteer to fight if I feel that that is the course my life is supposed to take, but I will not start the fight. There are few people who hate war more than those who have to fight the wars because they are most affected by war. There will always be some among all people who enjoy warmongering, but I believe them to be relatively few.

For me the greatest anti-war sermons have been preached not by war protesters but by those who simply report on or depict war without trying to promote an anti-war agenda. The strongest arguments made against war are in the simple yet horrendous destruction of the lives of so many people. That is why some of the strongest anti-war messages are good war movies. The anti-war protests on the 60s and 70s did far more damage to our country than good, in my opinion. I deal often with people who served in Vietnam then had to come home to a country that demonized what the soldiers were doing over there. A significant portion of these veterans continue to suffer psychologically to this day because of the ill treatment and hate they encountered upon returning home from their military service. Most of them were just trying to do the jobs they were called upon to do in the best and nicest way possible. By no means were all the soldiers saints – many soldiers in Vietnam were involved in immoral acts, drug abuse, and criminal behavior – but most were just there doing their jobs. They were normal people – neighbors, friends, and family – who were often asked to do horrible things (all war is horrible).

U.S. soldiers repeatedly go out of their way to minimize innocent causalities, even to their own detriment. This trait is thankfully not unique to Americans. It’s found in all cultures, religions, nations, and peoples.

Some may wonder how I can be anti-war yet still support the war in Iraq. Sometimes we are called upon to do hard things. Abraham Lincoln was anti-war, yet he was a great president who endured the hardest of wars – that between friends; he did not flinch when hard decisions needed to be made. General Douglas MacArthur was similarly anti-war if his statements before Congress and West Point are to be believed, yet he was a great general [I recognize that some of his war tactics were severe but he wanted to do what he thought would end war the fastest (while hopefully preventing future wars as well)]. It’s not hypocrisy, it’s necessity and reality. I’m not comparing myself to Lincoln or MacArthur, I’m merely making the point that you can be anti-war but fight wars. You hate what you have to do but do your duty because it is the right thing to do.

Experience and the Presidency

One frequent criticism of Obama by Republicans (and many Democrats, especially before he received the nomination) is that he is inexperienced. I’ve never bought that argument because experience does not imply competence. Experience might help in some cases but I believe a president will be good regardless of past political experience. I’m also biased against career politicians because I really don’t think we should have as many career politicians as we do have. I would be happy to vote for someone for president who has zero past political experience, as long as that person seems competent and has similar social, economic, and political views to my own (at least as far as possible). I would also be happier if our Congressmen and Senators served a maximum of two or three terms (Congressmen could probably serve 5-6 terms). I don’t think we should legislate term limits; I think it should just be the “right thing to do.” This would keep Congress fresh and would hopefully reduce corruption. Experience doesn’t matter, aptitude and personality do.

Some from Obama’s campaign (including himself) and many outside his campaign compare Obama’s experience (or lack thereof) to Abraham Lincoln’s experience (or lack thereof) before being elected president. This comparison is great for Obama because Lincoln is widely viewed as the best president the U.S. has ever had. I agree (although I might put Washington first) but this view is a little ironic because Pres. Lincoln had very low approval ratings during his presidency and he was just barely re-elected. His greatness was only widely apparent in hindsight. “Lack of experience” is about the only thing Obama and Lincoln have in common.

Obama and Lincoln have very different views on social issues and government. Lincoln would be known as a social conservative today – he based many of his policies on his personal moral and religious beliefs (his personal religious beliefs factored very heavily into his policies; it is ironic that so many Democrats and liberals hold Lincoln in such high esteem as a president yet are disdainful of modern politicians who allow their personal religious beliefs to influence their policies).

Lincoln also suspended civil liberties (suspended habeus corpus) during the civil war, which any self-respecting Democrat today would be abhorred by (isn’t that the reaction to some of Pres. Bush’s “restrictions” on civil liberties?). Lincoln also vetoed very few bills because Congress made the laws and he should only rarely veto (sound familiar? – Pres. Bush has the same philosophy).

Lincoln was fairly moderate (Obama certainly is not moderate, no matter what his campaigning makes him sound like). Lincoln was also a firm believer in economic liberalism (which is a free-market hands off approach; it’s basically today’s libertarianism). Obama’s economic policies are nothing like that. I could keep going with the differences between the two but will end there.