We Elected the Wrong President

We elected the wrong president. What is almost as bad is that Republicans nominated the wrong person to run against Pres. Obama. What led to our electing the wrong president?

After eight years of Pres. Bush, the country was fed up with Republicans, the economy (although we had some really good years during Pres. Bush’s presidency), and the wars. Not all of us were fed up with Pres. Bush but most people were. Of course, many people never gave him a chance or the benefit of the doubt because of the controversies Democrats created over the 2000 election. I was not a fan of Pres. Bush’s fiscal policies in general but the treatment of him by much of the media and many liberals was inexcusable. The media should be able to and should criticize presidents but the relentless barrage on Pres. Bush and his administration was almost without precedent and bordered on unethical. Pres. Bush also had the misfortune to have his tenure come during the maturation of the internet and rise of social media. The vitriol exploded and the administration did not know how to deal with it (or did not want to waste time dealing with it, unlike the present administration). Part of it was the fact that Pres. Bush was not a “good politician” (that’s not a criticism); he was successful in politics but was not a politician like Pres. Clinton or Pres. Obama. After eight years, our country wanted change.

This is where Pres. Obama came in. In 2006 Congress changed from a Republican majority to a Democrat majority. This was the beginning of the overall governmental change. For a time Sen. Clinton had the lead in the Democrat race for nomination. She had years of experience in Washington and had many connections. However, she was a “Clinton” and had her own history of scandals as well as those of her husband. She did not stand a chance once the media got behind and helped create the juggernaut that was Obama. He was young, cool, polished, intelligent, and media-savvy. As a community organizer he knew how to set up grassroots campaigns and raise funds in small amounts from many people. He was also African-American, which rather than hurting him, helped him tremendously. He had the African-American vote locked up and sealed. Overall, African-Americans compose about 13% of the U.S. population. Obama had virtually all of the African-American vote. Pres. Obama, smartly, ran his campaign on the promise of “Change you can believe in!” He was the person ostensibly from outside Washington who would re-create Washington, giving it an extreme makeover and more metrosexual appeal. Obama was to be a new JFK with the beautiful wife, cute kids, and polished rhetoric. Maybe he could build Camelot anew within the marbled pillars of the White House. He, to some of his followers, is a savior who not only cures cancer with a sympathetic look but also plays a decent game of basketball and looks good without a shirt on. Obama received the Democrat nomination also in part because the economy became of larger concern than the War Against Terror and the war in Iraq at a pivotal moment last year. Sen. Clinton suffered because of this and Sen. Obama benefited.

A similar thing happened in the Republican primary, although for different reasons. Mitt Romney was running 2nd to John McCain but in reality the race was close. However, Mike Huckabee proved to be more than a stinging gnat for Mitt Romney. Mike Huckabee pulled many of Christian conservatives away from Romney because they, in part, were already reticent about supporting a Mormon. Mormons, according to many Evangelicals, are the worst kind of cult; the worst thing to happen to Christianity since the feeding of early Christians to lions by the Romans. Mormons had the audacity to believe in and practice plural marriages in the 1800s, a practice many Westerners just cannot seem to stomach. Of course, Evangelicals do not seem to remember that many of their Biblical prophets practiced polygamy as has most of the world throughout most of history. In any case, Mormons are not well-liked among many fundamental Christian groups (or most other religions for that matter). Romney, in addition to losing supporters to Huckabee, also had the misfortune of the war in Iraq becoming the major issue within the Republican Party for a short while. The main focus on the economy did not come until after Romney withdrew and really not until after McCain was nominated. The war was McCain’s strong point while the economy was (and is) Romney’s.

More than a year ago I stated that Mitt Romney is “the man for the economic crisis in America.” We did not realize at the time how bad the economy really was becoming. That was unfortunate. Had the economy remained the major issue, Mitt Romney would have received the Republican nomination. He has proven business acumen, rescuing troubled businesses over and over (including the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics). While experience can sometimes be over-rated, Mitt Romney’s economic experience is not over-rated and cannot be over-stated. He would have been a president who would not have to rely completely on advisers to understand and establish economic policies. He could have worked even with a Democrat-controlled Congress, just as he did as governor of Massachusetts, to get sound fiscal policies passed (although the Legislature in Massachusetts did not like many of Romney’s fiscal policies, which were too conservative for them).

Instead of Romney we are left with a spend-happy Pres. Obama and a Congress that is even more spend-happy. The stimulus and bailout packages might help in the short-term, should the money actually ever be released, but they set a precedent for future spending and debt. We purchase short-term and ephemeral gains at the expense of the livelihood of our children and their children. Even with the so-called stimulus package, we face unemployment rates that rival Europe’s (at least Europe’s in a good economic climate). As many European nations move away from socialist economic policy, America moves towards it. Even China has largely moved away from a socialist economy. We should let the market run itself without too much government intervention. I’m not idealistic enough to believe that a purely capitalist nation without government intervention is the best way but less governmental intervention and meddling is usually better.

While I think Pres. Obama is a good person trying the best he knows how to do, I do not believe he is the right person for the job. We elected the wrong person. Instead of Obama, we should have elected Mitt Romney. Fortunately we might have that opportunity in 2012. My only worry is that the economy will have recovered by then and many of us will believe that just because the symptoms are gone, the illness is gone. However, just like antibiotics, we need to extend the treatment long after the symptoms are gone in order to get rid of the disease. I believe that Obama’s fiscal policies contribute to the disease instead of curing it. Maybe Obama can cure cancer but he cannot fix the economy; Congress cannot fix it either. Only the economy can fix the economy. Governments can help the economy but they cannot repair it; they can, however, make it worse by meddling. Again, this does not mean governments should leave economies completely untouched but our government should worry first about plugging the gaping holes in its bank accounts before it tries to do anything with the broader economy. We need fiscal responsibility, not this wanton spending our government is doing.

Mitt Romney was ready to answer the call to service but we rejected him. Hopefully we will not make the same mistake again in 2012 when we will need him more than ever to help clean up the mess the current administration and Congress are making.

Obama Wins the Presidency!

This is a little premature but Obama will win the U.S. Presidential election. Right now he only needs about 63 more electoral votes. He will win California and Washington, which will provide enough votes for him to get the 270. Many of the other races are still up in the air.

Right now it looks like Prop 2 will pass in Florida, which supports traditional marriage, but there are still many votes to be counted and reported.

Basking in Obama’s Reflected Glory

Republicans will not be able to win this election. Obama will probably win the presidency. However, if McCain wins, many Democrats will automatically say that Republicans “once again” stole the election (although the only people trying to steal the election in 2000 were Democrats). This will start another 4-8 years of hatred between parties. Once again, everything bad from the economy to natural disasters will be blamed on Republicans (yes, there are quite a few people in the U.S. who honestly believe Pres. Bush was responsible for Hurricane Katrina – I’m not talking about the federal government’s response to the hurricane, I’m talking about the actual hurricane itself).

For many people (and I hear and read this a lot), Republicans can do no right and Obama can do no wrong. What’s funny is that fellow Democrats are basking in Obama’s reflected glory. It’s look like Democrats will have large majorities in the Senate and the House, turning our federal government into a single party system. Further, a number of Supreme Court Justices will be up for retirement soon and Obama, with the legislative branch on his side, could pack the court with whomever he wants. That could mean that all 3 branches of government roughly followed a single ideological system!

What I don’t understand is why voters want to increase the power of the ruling party in Congress when Congress has very low approval ratings (roughly 15%) and very high disapproval ratings (roughly 75%). That’s lower than Pres. Bush’s approval ratings! The Democratic ad campaign was successful in convincing many Americans that all the country’s problems are caused by Republicans. Yes, they are to blame for some of the problems, but certainly no more than Democrats are.

I’ve heard the argument that it would be good for the economy to have a Democratic president because if you look at the past 30 years, budget deficits and the national debt have gone up a lot when a Republican was in office (of course, we only have 12 years of those 30 where we had a Democrat president, so the sample is biased). However, Democrats often had the majority in the House and sometimes in the Senate while Republicans were in the White House. So maybe the problem was the Democratic legislative branch – after all, they make the laws and authorize the spending of the money.

However, most people don’t really think through the ramifications of having a single-party federal government (it’s pretty close anyway – Republicans and Democrats are more similar than different – but do we really want it to actually be one party in charge?). It’s a good time to be a Democrat.

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)?

McCain Temporarily Suspends Campaign!

Sen. John McCain, in a move that shows integrity, announced that he would suspend his campaign until a deal was reached concerning the proposed bailout of Wall Street. Some Democrats, typically, are criticizing him for this move saying that it is much more important that a debate between McCain and Obama take place. That’s more important than a senator doing his job?! Obama’s response was: “It is going to be part of the president’s job to deal with more than one thing at once. It’s more important than ever to present ourselves to the American people.” In other words, “Look, I can deal with lots of things at once like a President has to.” The problem is that he isn’t dealing with a lot of things at once – he’s campaigning but not doing his job as Senator. Of course, Obama historically has mainly just worked with his party on issues so maybe he really isn’t needed in Washington for a bipartisan effort. McCain has worked with those not of his party a number of times over the years and is known for “crossing the aisle” if needed. I applaud McCain’s move – it shows that he is committed to his job, even if it costs him the Presidency (of course, he might have done some informal polling to see how this act would be viewed but that still doesn’t mean he isn’t doing the right thing for the right reason).

Obama’s DNC Speech

The more I listen to Obama, the less I like his views on policy. He sounds great when he doesn’t talk about policy but once he starts talking about ideas that will make America strong or help out the middle class, he just sounds naive. In his DNC nomination acceptance speech he criticized Pres. Bush for just talking tough without doing anything. This was shortly after he criticized Pres. Bush for – get this – starting the war in Iraq. Yeah, that’s just tough talk with nothing to back it up. I think he meant to criticize the U.N. but slipped and said Pres. Bush instead (sorry, that was my own jab at the U.N.). You may disagree with one or both wars that started during Pres. Bush’s administration but you can’t say he just talks tough and does nothing to back it up. Pres. Bush gave teeth to the U.N.’s resolutions – he tried to uphold the integrity of the U.N. by actually enforcing their resolutions. There were a few other times that what Obama said was just plain disingenuous.

I like Obama. I think he’s honest and would be a good president. I just disagree strongly with many of his policies (as an aside, I have to say though that Obama is far better candidate than John Kerry was). Obama voted against the ban on partial-birth abortions. He’s only recently even started talking about “looking into” nuclear energy, when the technology is ready to go. Nuclear is the way to go now, especially if we couple it with electric and hydrogen fuel cell cars. Electric cars would then be powered by all the new nuclear power plants we could build – cheap energy! Obama also wants to just pull all the troops out of Iraq (even though tonight he talked about pulling out of Iraq “responsibly”). Just pulling out is not responsible. The Iraqi government and current U.S. administration both want U.S. troops to leave but only when milestones are made and maintained.

Obama’s whole platform is one of bringing change to Washington yet he picks someone as a VP who’s been in Washington for a long time. That undermines his message. While I’m rambling I just have to say I love Obama’s sob stories about all the poor suffering people in America. Yes, there are a lot of poor suffering people in America but every time he did that I couldn’t help but to think about “injury attorneys” ads and tort lawyers. Pathos gets people excited and riled up but excessive use of it usually signifies a lack of anything substantive. As I said in a different post, just ignore what candidates say during campaigns because it’s just advertising. Obama’s a good and exciting speaker but much of what he says is just fluff. There was so much fluff that Obama could start a pillow manufacturing company and provide pillows for every man, woman, and child in America.

Why McCain Should Not Pick Romney as VP

I really hope that John McCain does not pick Mitt Romney as his VP. I have to qualify this statement by saying that I think Romney was by far the best candidate for president – I’d love to see him as president or as vice president but I hope he is not McCain’s choice. Let me explain.

Mitt Romney is a good person. He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) and lives his religion. He has a great family, so I hear, and has done great things for many people and businesses. He’s been hugely successful in the business world and even managed to get elected as a Republican governor in Massachusetts, not an easy task. During campaigning many people accused him of being a “flip-flopper” on issues. Yes, he changed position on some issues but he wasn’t a “flip-flopper”. This undeserved stigma will be hard to lose. It would be hard for me to watch the media crucify Romney because he would not deserve it. Of course he has his faults but they are not generally what the media says are his faults.

As a Mormon, there is a significant portion of the Republican (and Democratic) Party that will not vote for him. For them, having a Mormon in the White House is like being condemned to Hell for eternity. I wish I was joking. While this bigotry hopefully decreases over time, it’s still a significant factor. This anti-Mormon portion of the Republican Party is large enough that they could seriously impact McCain’s chance for election should McCain choose Romney as his VP. They already are not very trustful of McCain as it is.

I also would like Romney to run for president in 2012 and/or 2016. If he was McCain’s VP and McCain was elected, that would mean that we would have had 12 to 16 years of Republican presidents (and by the time Romney’s term(s) was over it would have been 16 to 20 years), which might be more than the country would think it could handle. We usually like to alternate between Republican and Democratic presidents with some frequency. This is actually also one reason why I think it might be good for Obama to win. Maybe after 4-8 years of his presidency our country would be ready for another Republican (or an Independent).

Of course, it is possible that as VP, Romney’s chances for the presidency would increase because people would see that Mormons are fairly normal and get more used to the idea of a Mormon in the White House. While I’d love it if Romney was picked the VP, I’m not sure if it would be the best thing for Romney’s chances for the Presidency in the future.

Senseless Campaigns

The one sure thing you can take from the primary season is that you should not listen to anything candidates are saying, especially not in commercials or ads. Sometimes what a candidate says can serve as an important measure of what they will be like in office but campaigning is all public relations – it’s all advertising. Like all advertising, it should be viewed skeptically. What candidates say might be truthful; in fact, a large part of what they say is truthful. However, what candidates say about one another is less likely to be completely truthful.

Very few people would run a campaign saying, “My opponent is a wonderful person. She is completely prepared for the job and has demonstrated good choices in the past. I may not agree with some of her policies and views but we’re all entitled to our own opinions.” I probably would but then again I’m not in politics, never will be in politics, and if I somehow happened to decide to try to be in politics, I probably would not get elected. There are some politicians who say very little about their opponent(s) but the closer we move towards the general election in November the more negative campaigning we hear. Negative campaigning is very effective; it causes people to doubt the other candidate, even if they say they do not like negative campaigning. If you are going to listen to what a candidate says while campaigning, then at least only listen and believe what a candidate say about him or herself and not about any opponents.

Take for example, Barack Obama. He is considered one of the most liberal Senators. However, he campaigns as a moderate. Maybe he has had a change of heart and maybe he hasn’t. John McCain, while fairly moderate with a definite conservative lean, has been campaigning as more conservative than his voting history shows. Maybe he has had a change of heart and maybe he hasn’t. I don’t believe that candidates are largely being dishonest as they campaign but there are some times that they intentionally mislead others. Good speakers learn how to speak to the audience. You say very different things to doctors and professors than you do to fast food workers. If you use big words with the fast food workers, they might just view you as an elitist. If you don’t adapt your language for a highly educated crowd, then you might be viewed as unintelligent or worse. You also campaign to your markets. Ads in the South are likely different than ads in the Northeast.

It’s also difficult to believe what the media reports. Quotes are taken out of context, molehills are made into mountains, and the real issues are often ignored. Modern media is a business – they need to make money so they focus on the stories they think will sell. I don’t think they are purposely or generally being deceptive with their stories but reporters have their own biases and they need to sell stories. The internet provides a medium for more truthful reporting and more complete coverage of campaigns but it also introduces all sorts of other problems. Non-truths can spread like wildfire. Bloggers can be extremely biased and there are no standards to help monitor and control what bloggers are saying (whether or not there should be is a whole different topic).

If you want to understand a candidate you need to look at their webpage and look at their history in politics or life. You can learn some from what they say while campaigning but most of what they say is advertising – they are selling their platform. How they sell can be important information but what they’ve done (and said) before campaigning is likely more pertinent.