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.

The King is Dead! Long Live the King!

Obama, in a keen maneuver showing how he is bringing change to Washington, proposed a radical new plan to help the economy. I’ll quote from a CNN headline: “Obama begins push for tax cuts, more spending.”

It seems he learned something from Pres. Bush and Congress after all. I like this bold new fiscal plan. Let’s bring in less money while spending more money because that will magically fix the nation’s financial problems. I understand that on a theoretical macro economic scale, it’s not a terrible plan because the goal is to stimulate the economy by freeing up liquid assets. This in turn grows the economy, bringing in more tax revenues. At this point government spending will be reduced and Poof! the economy is good again.

However, the government never seems to get to the reduced spending part. Cutting taxes and increasing spending is a very difficult way to stimulate the economy – it requires much financial acumen as well as the willingness and ability to stop the plan as soon as possible. It’s a good plan in the short-term but is not sustainable. On top of that, it’s amoral at best.

The best way to increase financial stability and to make the economy stronger in the long-term is for the government to reduce taxes and reduce spending. They don’t even have to reduce taxes at first, but they have to learn to live within their means.

The only change so far in Washington is that change the government is “borrowing” from taxpayers and the extra change the government mints to help “fund” its spending habits. I know my critique is simplistic but Obama’s “stimulus plan” basically boils down to “tax less, spend more.”

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)?

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.

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.

Obama’s Criterion for Judge Selection

On July 17, 2007 Obama, speaking at a Planned Parenthood conference, revealed his views on how he would select Supreme Court Justices: “We need somebody who’s got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it’s like to be a young teenage mom. The empathy to understand what it’s like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old. And that’s the criteria by which I’m going to be selecting my judges.” (Source). [Update – Here are more of Obama’s comments]. While empathy is a wonderful quality – one of the greatest qualities a person can have – that’s his criterion for selecting a judge? What ever happened to selecting people who will judge according to the law?

Alan Paton, a great South African writer, wrote of the responsibilities of judges: “Because the land is a land of fear [I’d say this applies to the U.S.], a Judge must be without fear, so that justice may done according to the Law; therefore a Judge must be incorruptible. The Judge does not make the Law. It is the People that make the Law. Therefore if a Law is unjust, and if the Judge judges according to the Law, that is justice, even if it is not just. It is the duty of a Judge to do justice, but it is only the People that can be just. Therefore if justice be not just, that is not to be laid at the door of the Judge, but at the door of the People.”

Judges need to judge according to the law, citizens make the laws (or at least elect those who do). They need to be honest and incorruptible people. Again, while empathy is a desired quality, judges need to judge according to the law and Constitution and those qualities should take precedence over empathy. Besides, Obama said he just wants judges who have empathy for “young teenage mom[s]…[the] poor, African-American, gay, disabled, or old people.” What about Hispanics, non-poor, Caucasians, non-disabled, average, unintelligent, intelligent, religious, non-religious, or any other group of people? I think Obama’s criterion for selecting judges is severely lacking.

The Immorality of Radical Islamic Terrorists

CNN recently posted a story stating that 53 Iraqis were killed in a pair of bomb blasts. One bomb went off. As a group of people gathered to help the wounded, a suicide bomber wearing a bomb set the bomb off, killing many people. I’m one who always tries to see the positive in people and give people credit where credit is due but these acts are despicable. I have great respect for Muslim beliefs and the Islam religion. These radical Jihadists though are at odds with everything good about Islam. They seek to kill any who do not share their beliefs. Just think about the tactics they used. They set off one bomb, injuring many and killing a few. Then they wait for a crowd to gather to help – to show basic human decency and empathy. At this point a suicide bomber blows himself (assuming the person was male) up, injuring far more and killing many more than the first blast did. What these terrorists do makes any of the harshest interrogation techniques U.S. personnel may use look like massages. Radical Islam is completely incompatible with democracy.

We have to choose a president who will appropriately respond to this movement. We need someone who realizes that the only threats to America do not just come from within (many do, but not all). We also have a responsibility to fight radical Islam, which threatens the sovereignty and democracy of other nations. It’s easy to be opposed to the initial invasion of Iraq but to pull out prematurely would be immoral. The Iraqis need to (and are) take responsibility for their own country but they need help. Russia is still struggling to become a working democracy and the USSR ended a number of years ago. Change takes time. Violent change can take longer because change is forced instead of chosen. I have to laugh every time I hear Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama talking about starting to pull out of Iraq as soon as they are elected. It’s a naive promise. I’d love to see it happen if Iraqi (and American) lives weren’t at stake (plus all the trouble it would cause down the line). Radical Islamists only understand the language of violence. It’s not a language we like to speak but it’s, unfortunately, the only way to deal with these terrorists. I’m nearly as pacifistic as people come but there comes a time to fight. Now is the time to fight. We must continue to fight if we want to preserve freedom and democracy in the world and in our own country. John McCain will handle the threat of Radical Islamist movements better than either Clinton or Obama would.