A Clear and Crucial Choice
The Manchester Union Leader said in July, 2012, “How so many Americans can express apathy toward the watershed presidential election less than four months away is virtually unfathomable.
President Obama and Mitt Romney, and the courses they propose for this nation, are so different, they should be galvanizing voters like never before.”
In its editorial, the Union Leader proceeded to make assertions that were profoundly distorted, unconnected to any reality and thoroughly unprincipled.
For example, “Obama has left no doubt about the statist course he has been pursuing — and intends to continue.” Could it be the Union Leader does not understand the term statist? A statist would champion or endorse the principle or policy of concentrating extensive economic, political, and related controls in the state at the cost of individual liberty. Despite the insistence of the reactionaries that President Obama does this, there is no evidence that he actually does. The Affordable Care Act is often alleged to be a power grab, but epithets are not evidence and accusations are not arguments.
As a second example, the Union Leader asserts “He, plain and simple, favors redistribution of wealth on a scale unimagined by previous administrations. He continues to push for greater federal spending, bigger government and intrusion in every aspect of American life, despite an already crushing federal deficit.” They make these charges at a time when the facts are stunningly contrary to their statements. This chart shows the reality.
Between 1979 and 2007, the top 1 percent saw their incomes rise by 281 percent after adjusting for inflation — an increase in income of $973,100 per household — compared to increases of $11,200 per household for the middle fifth of households and $2,400 per household for the bottom fifth. Wealth has been redistributed from the middle and bottom segments of the populace to the top by factors of 87 and 405, respectively. Yet the Union Leader accuses President Obama of favoring redistribution on an unimaginable scale.
Slate.com describes what has actually happened since 1970,
“Income for the top 20 percent has increased since the 1970s while income for the bottom 80 percent declined. In the 1970s the top 1 percent received 8 percent of total income while today they receive 18 percent. During the same period income for the bottom 20 percent had decreased 30 percent.
In the 1970s the top 0.1 percent of Americans received 2 percent of total income. Today they get 8 percent.
In 1980 the average CEO made 50 times more money than the average worker while today the average CEO makes almost 300 times more than the average worker.”
There has been a massive and incredible redistribution of wealth from most of the populace to the absolute upper echelon. As Warren Buffett, the second richest man in America, famously said, “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”
Next the Union Leader declares, “He successfully pushed his first steps toward national health care through Congress. It is now up to the people to determine that he went too far.” The Affordable Care Act is a duly enacted piece of legislation and it has been confirmed as constitutional by the Supreme Court. It was passed by properly elected majorities in both Chambers of Congress and signed by a fairly elected president. Why does the Union Leader imply that there is something nefarious about this properly enacted legislation? Could this be driven by the same suspicions and resentments that have fueled Republican disparagements of Social Security for eight decades and attacks on Medicare for half a century?
According to the Union Leader, President Obama, “is all but promising a college education — another entitlement on top of the already staggering cost of subsidized college loans — for anyone who wants one.” In truth, President Obama has criticized the Romney endorsed Ryan Budget that includes significant cuts to education, leaving a notable dent in federal student aid and funding for Pell Grants.” Romney has called Ryan’s plan marvelous and “encouraged the Senate to pick it up and pass it along to the president.” Furthermore, Romney advised students to “Take a risk, get the education, and borrow money if you have to from your parents.” It does not seem to occur to Mitt that most parents have no money to lend to their children for college education. Based on the proposals they have made it is fair to say, as President Obama has said, “putting a college education within reach for working families doesn’t seem to be a priority” for Romney and Ryan. Therefore, the Union Leader is right about the existence of a stark contrast, but completely wrong about its nature.
In the eyes of the Union Leader, “Obama’s career has revolved around the public sector, education and government. He has proven he is no friend of private enterprise — or, indeed, of individual liberty.” Yet again, these unsupported accusations are hyperbole at best and ravings at worst. President Obama was a community organizer, a college professor, a state legislator, a senator, and is now the president. The characterization of his career is true, but unexceptional. Saying he has “proven he is no friend of private enterprise – or indeed of individual liberty” is nothing but defamation. For the record, President Obama has signed numerous tax cuts that help or support various small businesses; he supported a record volume of small business loans in the past year, and more than 150,000 loans since he took office; he created the Small Business Lending Fund, which has invested in 332 banks and community development loan funds to help Main Street banks provide loans to small businesses. President Obama invested $2 billion in Small Business Administration funding for early-stage businesses and businesses in under-served communities or emerging business sectors. Small businesses are unquestionably private enterprises, so President Obama has shown himself to be friendly to at least one significant variety of private enterprise. As to individual liberty, there is little genuine substance to such a charge, but among reactionaries there are recurrent themes such as exploiting the financial crisis for political gain, restricting personal freedoms through invasive healthcare and “green” policies, and endangering America through feckless diplomacy and reckless dismantlement of our national security systems. These rants are relentless, but unfounded. Repetition of falsehoods does not magically make them true.
Perhaps the most blatantly unfair contention of the Union Leader is that the Obama “administration has destabilized Arab governments, without any clear benefit for the United States — and in some instances, clear disadvantages — in the name of spreading democracy, but little more than chaos has been the result. Look at Egypt, for example. Mr. President. What have you achieved on behalf of the United States?” It is President Bush, not President Obama who invaded a major Muslim country under cover of the political vocabulary and rhetorical flimflammery, invoking of liberty, security, and democracy while largely ignoring the substance of these concepts and the realities of the geopolitical situation. Obama’s judicious approach is in stark contrast to the last Republican president who completely disrupted the political, cultural, and economic functioning of Iraq – a nation that did not attack the United States.
“Mitt Romney is a diametric opposite.” This statement is true; Romney is the opposite of President Obama. Mitt has pursued wealth as his master passion. He now tries to characterize his relentless, resourceful and successful pursuit of wealth as a saga of job creation. Everyone who knows what venture capitalists do knows that jobs are incidental to their objectives. They will preserve or abolish jobs unhesitatingly depending on what the financial gains dictate. Making money is not necessarily ignoble, but feigning other intentions while grasping for every available dollar is definitely not honorable. As Matt Taibbi points out: “Mitt Romney is no tissue-paper man. He’s closer to being a revolutionary, a backward-world version of Che or Trotsky, with tweezed nostrils instead of a beard, a half-Windsor instead of a leather jerkin. His legendary flip-flops aren’t the lies of a bumbling opportunist – they’re the confident prevarications of a man untroubled by misleading the nonbeliever in pursuit of a single, all-consuming goal. Romney has a vision, and he’s trying for something big: We’ve just been too slow to sort out what it is, just as we’ve been slow to grasp the roots of the radical economic changes that have swept the country in the last generation.
The Union Leader says, “Romney went into government only AFTER a successful private sector career. He has made his fortune. But he believes in a course for this nation, one that will shrink government; reduce spending, pay down the debt. He believes in giving back in return for all that he has received from this great nation and its free enterprise system.” A successful private sector career is by no means the “sine qua non” of effective political leadership. In fact, the CEO experience is a particularly ineffective training ground for the leader in a far less rigidly hierarchical setting than the corporate realm.
We do not have to like either Romney, or Obama, to recognize the differences between them. We do not have to like either of them to understand we have a clear choice to make about the direction and future of this country, not just for ourselves, but, more importantly, for our children, our great-grandchildren and the generations that come after them. And we certainly do not have to agree with either of them on everything.
Will America continue to be a Republic and government of just powers derived from the consent of the governed, or will it be perverted into an authoritarian plutocracy dominated by xenophobic misogynists and homophobes? Will America continue become a more perfect union, indivisible with liberty, equality, justice, and prosperity for all, or will it be a throwback to the Gilded Age where the haves have ever more and the have nots have nothing?
The choice is ours. The candidates ARE profoundly different. Listen carefully. Learn constantly. Think seriously. Then choose wisely. The Republic ordained and established by the constitution or the very thing the first patriots revolted against. For 236 years, Americans have chosen to be governed, but they have never consented to be ruled. Two profoundly different candidates of two radically different parties are championing two vastly different visions.
From the beginning, the Americans have jointly created the means for knowledge, health, commerce and recreation. The nation began when the Founders mutually pledged to each other their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. Schools and libraries, hospitals, public roads, bridges, clean water and sewers, a federal banking system, a system of interstate commerce, public buildings and records, a court system mostly for commercial disputes, an Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, police and firemen, public playgrounds and parks are all joint efforts. Americans have always cooperated to provide such things via government to promote private business and individual well-being and freedom. Romney and the Republicans would have us forget history and betray this heritage. President Obama and the Democrats are the authentic proponents of the real American dream. Romney and the Republicans are proponents of a collective amnesia and an American nightmare. The choice for all patriotic Americans should be as obvious as it is momentous.
Tags: 2012, choice, citizenship, Future, Obama, patriotism, plutocracy, President, Republic, romney, voting