The Divided Era & the 2012 Election

By Tom Del Beccaro, on Oct 10, 2012

Please share this column - it addresses the growing partisanship in America and provides a framework for why and how we got here.

The Divided Era & The 2012 election


 

Confrontation For The Soul Of America
The economy is in a rut. Unemployment is ~ 8.1%. Underemployment is over 26%. America is living the debilitating misery of chronic recession. Washington’s response is inadequate, poorly managed, and misdirected. Congressional approval stands at a lousy 13 percent. Business confidence has not been this bad since 2009. Consumer confidence really sucks. Thinking Americans are agitated. (Note 1)

And that sets the stage for the 2012 elections.

Both political parties are slinging mud as fast as they can. Caustic lies and nasty matter pollute the air. (More global warming?) Republicans appear flustered and disorganized. They haven’t made their case. Democrats are frustrated, angry and vociferous. For both parties, venomous rhetoric is more important than substance. American media organizations have evolved into propaganda machines that deliver a constant stream of ideological nonsense and pop culture drivel. As a result, many of America’s potential challenges are not even on the election issue radar. Some subjects are avoided because any mention of them would be condemned as politically incorrect (immigration reform, restoring personal responsibility, etc.). Some of America’s challenges are evaded because meaningful debate would be politically inexpedient (welfare, education, etc.). And some are left out of the election deliberations because few politicians understand the subject (Muslim cultural change, the decline of democracy, government organization, etc.).

Should that shake voter confidence?

For republicans or democrats, the downside penalty of winning in 2012 is far greater than any upside reward. For the winner there will be continuing frustration and anger. No matter who wins, Washington will still have to deal with chronic recession, a deteriorating situation in the Middle East, determined terrorist activity, incessant civil war in multiple nations, an embarrassingly ineffective and corrupt United Nations, a nasty collection of anti-American politicians, chaos in Mexico, China’s ascendancy as a self-centered political and economic power, a destabilized European Union, government corruption, domestic terror attacks, and escalating domestic anarchy.

Oh. And the possibility of higher oil prices, ruinous inflation, and the collapse of the world’s financial system.

Should that shake voter confidence?

Obama is pulling American troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan. The resulting power vacuum will lead to increased political turbulence throughout the Middle East. Iran is uniting the Shia Muslim population against Sunni Muslims, forming anti-western, anti-Jewish, anti-American alliances, and funding an army of terrorists. Democracy will not survive in Iraq because this region has neither the culture nor the economic basis to support a democracy. Afghanistan and Pakistan (which has nuclear weapons) will become armed Islamist camps. Islamist influence already dominates Egypt and multiple African nations. Russia will back Iran. The United States will be forced to back Saudi Arabia. China will protect its natural resource interests. Israel is a fuse. Regional war is inevitable. World war is possible. (Note 2)

Should that shake voter confidence?

All the Congressional failures of the last 25 years will come home to roost. The promise of democracy has been debased by organizational failure, ceaseless bickering and a cascade of outright lies. Liberal ideology and incredibly bad management have weakened America’s financial strength, destroyed the credibility of American education, desecrated the legitimacy of American media, and trashed the financial viability of America’s health care system. Free market enterprise has been debauched by crony capitalism. Government oppression routinely sabotages entrepreneurial activity. Legislative confrontation has replaced meaningful compromise. Stalemate prevails over common sense.

Should that shake voter confidence?

In many respects, this is a very strange election cycle. The next four years could be apocalyptic. Although most Americans can not verbalize the challenges that lie ahead, they definitely know something is wrong. Voters feel helpless. Threatened. Uneasy. Congressional approval is a wretched ~ 19%. Obama’s job approval rating appears stalled at ~50 percent.

For republicans or democrats, winning in 2012 means losing. There are no uncomplicated answers to the challenges that lie ahead. Potential solutions will be smothered by the appalling ignorance of ideology. Welfare, health care, and government costs are not sustainable. The Federal Reserve’s QE3 policy assures an acceleration toward a financial Armageddon. Economic collapse will force a reduction of benefits. Millions of disillusioned Americans will take to the streets. Think demonstrations and riots. Bloody confrontation. Talk of revolution. There will be a dramatic shift in political power. The opposition will win in 2016.

Assuming the political establishment allows free elections.

Perhaps we will sail into 2016 on the wings of angels. Four beautiful, prosperous, uneventful years. But I doubt it. Iran is unlikely to wait 4 years to make its mark on history. Ditto for the other assorted dictators, terrorists and gangs that make up the new world order. Perhaps our financial quandary can be swept under the rug. Maybe our capital structure can be held together with the glue of good fortune. Maybe cheap oil will flow in copious quantities.

But will our luck hold for 4 years?

We are at a crossroad. We can no longer pretend our problems do not exist. Bad things can no longer be blamed on someone else. Politically correct beliefs, ideological blather, and pop culture drivel only serve to obscure the challenges we face. Our nation can not continue to ignore its problems. America needs leaders with backbone, character, and vision.

Unfortunately. That will not happen.

In this election, voters are confronted by a wall of worry. The largest stone in this wall, however, is the future of America’s political system. We can choose the self righteous ignorance of blind ideology, or we can seek to restore the magnificent promise of freedom. We can choose the institutional tyranny of oppressive government, or pursue a political system that acts with moderation. We can choose leaders who will govern by edict, or leaders who respect the independent freedoms of a responsible and self-reliant population. We can support a lust for ever-greater personal political power, or the humility of a personal commitment to America’s citizens. We can choose the socialist version of crony capitalism, or believe in the wealth creating potential of managed capitalism. We can support capricious decisions centered on self-serving political expediency, or good management based on an intelligent analysis of economic and cultural reality.

The process of choice will be contentious. It will continue for several years. Will America choose responsible freedom and the rule of law?

Probably not.

It is more likely our nation acquiesce to the soothing promise and dramatic oratory of a pop culture demagogue who harbors a burning ambition to be dictator for life.

But I could be wrong. You decide.

TEA

Note 1: Gallup Poll of likely voters 9/9/2012. The American Income Misery Index, which adds total unemployment to total underemployment as a percentage of the American full employment workforce has risen from 22.7 percent (34,476,000 workers) in January of 2009, to 26.5 percent (42,826,000 workers) in August of 2012. More data at http://www.tceconomist.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-american-recession-are-w...

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index increased in September. But it’s still abysmal. Only 15.5 percent of consumers believe business conditions are good; 8.3 percent believe jobs are plentiful; and 16.3 percent expect they will be making more money within 6 months. That’s not a ringing endorsement of either Washington or the economy.

Not 2: Concern about Iran’s nuclear program is a minor issue compared with Iran’s terrorist activities. Washington’s failure to deal with this challenge borders on criminal neglect.

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