All posts tagged elections


Start Thinking America

It is a new year, and with the exit of the 112th Congress (one of the worst in our history) and the political haggling of the first of many ‘fiscal cliffs’ now over, America seems to be facing a new and potential hazardous future if it chooses to stay on the same destructive course. With the upcoming inauguration of Barack Obama for his second term, the newly sworn in 113th Congress, and three new fiscal nightmare scenarios looming, we once again stand at the precipice of doing what is necessary, versus what will suffice the status quo and political power grabs.We often get caught up in media cycles and do not look at the big picture.  Sometimes what is necessary is for a look in from the outside, such a view sometimes puts things into perspective.

 

Time to Start Thinking: America in the Age of Descent

 

With that in mind everyone interested in the future of the U.S. should read Edward Luce’s Time to Start Thinking: America in the Age of DescentLuce, who is the Washington Bureau Chief for the Financial Times and a former speechwriter for former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, outlines the problems facing the U.S. as the rest of the world continues to grow and our economic, and political, strength continue to diminish. He outlines the social, economic, and cultural decline that the nation faces– mourning the decline of American pragmatism which has seen the nation push through past crisises and threats of decline.

This time around he, as well as a litany of other experts he cites, are not so hopeful. In the New York Times review of the book, Jonathan Rauch summarized some of the main points outlined in the book. Summarizing Luce’s arguments, he states

where does that leave the country? Not in a great place, if Luce is right. Jobs are disappearing, median household income is declining, skills are in short supply, health costs hobble competitiveness, outsourcing and offshoring and automation marginalize working-class men, and through it all political leaders either sit by helplessly or actively oppose remedies. And that’s just in Chapter 1. Later sections bring us dysfunctional schools, demoralized government, burdensome debt and deficits, failing innovation, hidebound regulation, crumbling infrastructure, a paralyzed Congress, a broken campaign-finance system and more, much more.

Though the book does a great job listing all the doom and gloom scenarios facing the U.S., its best asset is that it illustrates that our decline is relative. It is relative to the rest of the world which is still struggling to find its bearing and inherit its newfound political and economic power. We have time to adjust, to make the necessary changes, and to adapt the U.S. for a new decade and century before it is too late. The book highlights some of our largest threats and challenges of the past century– the Cold War, the emergence of Japan in the 1990’s, and now a globalized world and the emergence of China.

The U.S. has weathered the same alarmist voices which speak of America’s decline for decades. What the book does is raise the alarm against absolute decline. Winston Churchill once said that America always does what is necessary when it has exhausted all other options, yet again our backs are against the wall and our leaders must act to reemerge from a financial crisis and political paralysis.Before the fall of the Soviet Union, Georgi Arbatov, Gorbachev’s close aide told the U.S. “We [the USSR] will do a terrible thing to you; we will deprive you of an enemy.” This time around America faces the worse enemy in its history– itself. Over a century ago Abraham Lincoln envisioned this decline from within when he stated  “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

Luce makes a number of good points, raises a number of valid questions, and offers some pragmatic solutions for the future of the U.S. Let’s hope someone is listening. Reading this book would help.


The Elephant in the Room

( This is part 1 of 2 of this article. To read the second part “Prescriptions for an Ailing Elephant” go here)

There is an elephant in the room. Look in the mirror, Republicans: It’s you. There is no one to blame but yourselves, and it’s time to get your act together. This past election made it clear: President Obama and the Democrats did not defeat you, you have been defeating yourselves for the past twenty years. This past election was a culmination of a ruinous policy, and trajectory, that is of your own making. The primary purpose of a political party, or any organization, is to achieve their policy, and in order to do so you must win. The goals of the Tea Party and the religious super-right are sacrificing electoral success for ideological purity. That is the surest formula for self-defeat and the GOP has mastered that formula. Dogma does not win elections, and as long as you choose to be a political party rather than an ideological movement, your goal is to win elections. Having a candidate who shares most but not all of your ideals is better than not having a candidate win at all. Somehow, somewhere, the party has forgotten this fundamental principle.

 

Lets highlight the losses that Republicans have inflicted upon themselves, both in the 2010 mid-term election, and in this year’s election. Read more…


Validation and Vindication: Hope and Change

President Obama’s re-election was more important and meaningful than his first. Let me explain.

When the president won his election against John McCain in 2008, it was heralded as a historic moment in America. The election of the first African American was seen as groundbreaking. Even if Hillary Clinton had been nominated instead, she still would have won and it would have been just as historic. But she did not: Barack Obama got nominated, he beat John McCain, and he became president.  But any Democrat would have; I am not taking anything away from the president, but after eight years of George Bush the country was looking for a change— a drastic change— and it elected a relatively young and inexperienced Senator as President of the United States. Read more…


It’s NOT the Economy, Stupid

 

It’s demographics.

The Republicans would like to make every excuse possible to explain the drugging they received in last week’s election. The excuses have varied from ‘Mitt Romney was not a stellar candidate,’ to the president and his campaign painted the Republicans as out of touch (which they are), as well as every other possible excuse except the simple numbers of it. This was not an election of ideas, popularity, or the economy, as the Romney campaign would have had us believe. Or anything else. Plain and simple, it was demographics.

The Republicans have been governing over an ever increasingly shrinking coalition since the 1990’s and it finally took this election to make them realize it. Based on some delusional hypothesis from conservative pundits and analysts, the GOP thought it was going to win the presidency and perhaps re-take the senate. This is wishful thinking at best.  In this article by Chris Cillizza, of The Washington Post’s TheFix, he argues

The numbers paint a very clear picture: Republicans now face the same low electoral-college ceiling that Democrats confronted for much of the 1970s and 1980s — needing everything to go right to win the presidency, much less break the 300-electoral-vote barrier. Read more…


Four More Years, of the Status Quo?

First and foremost, congratulations to President Barack Obama on winning re-election yesterday and on a well run, and tremendously successful, campaign.

Despite all the punditry and right-wing news and media projections it was not as close as anyone had expected. The Obama campaign was well organized  thanks to the incredible work of David Plouffe, David Axelrod, and Jim Messina, who I believe will go down as the best campaign organization in the modern era. Their ability to turn out the vote using all methods of traditional media and modern technology, along with a strong grassroots political machine, ensured a decisive and quick win for the president. Read more…


Country First, Candidates Second

Today  is election day. Both parties and presidential candidates have been campaigning for months and it will finally culminate today. Regardless of who wins this years election, it is set to be the most divisive in American history. If Barack Obama wins, he will do so with the lowest percentage of white voters in history and if Mitt Romney wins he will do it with the least amount of non-whites ever recorded. This just illustrates one of the numerous ways this election is being decided through a divided prism of opposing voters such as: whites and non-whites, married women and single women, pro-life and pro-choice, tax cutters and revenue raisers, those worried about the debt and deficit and those not, small-government and big-government believers, pro-Obamacare and anti-Obamacare, pro-gay marriage and anti-gay marriage, pro-gun control and anti-gun control, and the list goes on dividing us up…

However, despite all the negativity and constant rhetoric, we are fortunate to have two well-qualified and dignified men running for the highest office in the county. Though they may not be many peoples first choice, and there are many more qualified people, our political process has nominated and chosen these two men and that choice is a blessing in and of itself. Today, the United States continues its growth and living history by adding a new chapter and a new leader. What we should hope for is true leadership not just from the winner, but from the loser as well. Read more…


Spoils of Victory

Whether President Obama or Governor Romney win the election net week, one thing is pretty certain ( though no really wants to admit it), whoever wins will preside over an economic boom in the US. Fareed Zakaria makes a compelling argument in his latest article in the Washington Post. According to the most recent International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook;

when looking out over the next four years — the next presidential term — the IMF projects that the United States will be the strongest of the world’s rich economies. U.S. growth is forecast to average 3 percent, much stronger than that of Germany or France (1.2 percent) or even Canada (2.3 percent). Increasingly, the evidence suggests that the United States has come out of the financial crisis of 2008 in better shape than its peers — because of the actions of its government.

Despite Mitt Romney’s argument to the contrary, or that we could be doing “better” than  we are now, other leading economists have echoed the positive trends that are being illustrate by the economy. Read more…


(Electoral) College Failure

I do not rely on YouTube videos for much information or unbiased opinons. However, this is a good clip on the role and background of the Electoral College, the method the we use to elect our president in the U.S. Take a few minutes and watch it. You do not have to agree or disagree with it, but it is simple and puts the whole electoral proscess into perspective.

In addition, here is a great clip from NPR on this years electoral map and what some states, more than others, are getting all the attention.


Moderating a Moderate

David Brooks, of the New York Times, clearly and forcefully makes a case for what a “moderate” is in this great article. With the election coming up this week, and with months of campaigning by both candidates, the one word that has been used, and more often than not misused and abused, is moderate. Candidates are known for campaigning to their bases during primaries and then campaigning towards the political center during general elections. That common notion is that of as candidates become “moderates” for the general population. However, moderate is NOT someone in the middle, when referring to a moderate, a true moderate, which most pragmatic people and Americans really are.

Brooks defines a moderate:

First, let me describe what moderation is not. It is not just finding the midpoint between two opposing poles and opportunistically planting yourself there. Only people who know nothing about moderation think it means that. Moderates start with a political vision, but they get it from history books, not philosophy books. That is, a moderate isn’t ultimately committed to an abstract idea.

Regarding political economic, and cultural issues; Read more…


Debating the Debate (Part 3)

The BEST assessments and recap on last nights debate. Considering it was on foreign policy, The Economist covers all the issues well and gives great insight.