The National Whig

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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Barack, Hillary, What's the Difference?

This presidential election year is one full of historical possibilities. First, and this is a certainty, we will elect the first senator as president since John F. Kennedy. Then we have the not so certain possibility of electing either the first black man or the first woman as president. Of course we have to wait for the Democrat voters to decide whether we get the option of the first black man or first woman. Right now, at least on a technical level, the odds are good that the Democrats will be giving us the first-black-man option; however, the scheming has been well at work at giving us the first woman option. All of these firsts are uplifting, at least to an extent, but when we are talking about leaders of a great nation, a discussion that ought to be based on ideas and not superficial things such as race and gender, what difference does it make whether we get a socialist president that is black or a woman?

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are separated only by physical traits. There is absolutely no difference between their views about how the United States should be run. They both advocate a government run healthcare system in the hopes of giving all Americans a sound piece of mind when it comes to healthcare costs. They both wish to punish success by, first, allowing the taxcuts of President Bush to sunset in 2010, and then, after claiming that an economic slowdown can only be helped by more govnerment spending, advocating an increase in taxes on who they consider "rich." Both are arguing that the housing/credit crisis can only be solved by having Washington set lending policy for the banks, whom Barack and Hillary deem to be the culprits in people not being able to pay off their debts. And finally, they both seem to think that the best way to fight terrorism is to talk to Iran, leave Iraq and let loose those in Guantanamo Bay which we captured while fighting the Taliban and al Qaeda in 2002. But when you look at the Democrats in the crowds of Obama or Clinton no one seems to care about what it is their particular candidate is saying. These supporters just cheer whenever they hear a certain keyword or combination of keywords. So one could argue that the race for the Democrat nomination for president is based, not on substance, but on who sounds better when they say that they are going to turn the US more into a socialist state: style over substance.

The worst part of this style-over-substance campaign that the Democrats are running this year is that the "average" American voter doesn't care, they want to partake in history. All throughout this campaign season there has been numerous examples of the American voter responding to stump speeches as though they were mind-numbed robots. All one has to do is watch an Obama speech and wait for him to say "change," "hope," or "Bush" and you can hear the sheep bleeting as loudly as possible. Or go over to a Hillary speech; you won't hear "hope" but you can hear "change" and "Bush" and, of course, the bleeting. And though there is no substance, there are key words that lend to the appearance of substance, but alas, there is no there there. For instance, the two history makers are keen on saying that NAFTA has caused the loss of manufacturing jobs in middle America, but the facts are that those jobs have more than likely gone over to China than Mexico and, aside from that, there really hasn't been that great an exodus of jobs considering that since NAFTA our unemployment levels haven't risen above 6 percent--one of the legs needed for economists to claim a recession. But the American voter doesn't want to hear that, they want to pump their fists and scream "They took our jobs!".

The greatest example of the American voter being driven by style or superficial characteristics comes from Juan Williams of NPR. The other day on "Morning Edition" Williams was discussing the possible Vice President selections for John McCain. Among the many names on the list was former Maryland Lt. Governor Micheal Steele. Now, Williams's explaination for this choice did not focus on whether Mr. Steele was a Conservative, which he is, or whether he has an exemplary intellect, which he does. No, the reason, according to Williams, for choosing Micheal Steele is because he is black, and in the current political environment it would be beneficial for the GOP to try and capitalize on the current emotions of the time. (I want it known that I would vote for Mr. Steele if he was purple with a big extra head, because it is important for me that he is a Conservative.)

This is not the first time that the American voter has reacted purely out of emotional rationalization rather than substantive rationalization. In the mid-term election of 2006 the Democrats won majorities in both chambers of Congress based on a platform that can stripped down to this: Vote for us, we aren't them. It worked well enough to win back control of Congress and completely disspirit the Conservative movement coming into this election year. This is how the GOP ended up getting represented by John McCain, he is assumed to be the most electible.

Emotions are determining the course of the United States, and that is a deleterious thing. Considering that while the American voter will be celebrating the making of history this year, their taxes will be increased, their economic prospects are going to deteriorate, and their national security will be limited and there doesn't seem to be a care about any of that, puts a bit of a taint on the thought that Americans are rather cutting edge thinkers. Electing the "first" of some one to power is a good thing, but it shouldn't be the driving force behind making the decision regarding who to vote for. It is about ideas, that is the only thing that matters not the physical aspects of where those ideas come from.

3 Comments:

Blogger Heather said...

Awesome post, Robert! Right on! I am so glad that you are out there speaking the truth! Keep them coming!

7:38 PM  
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