Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Last Moderate Standing?

For the longest time,  I have prided myself on being, what I perceived to be anyway, one of the last remaining moderates in America.  While I still hold this maxim to be true, I have to admit that in the last three years I have gone under a bit of a political metamorphosis that I must explain.

I am still not registered with any poltical party, nor have I ever given to any political campaign.  When I vote I invariably end up voting for an almost equal number of candidates from both parties.  What drives me in these decisions is not partisanship, but citizenship.  I vote for ideas, not a slogan.  I cherish country over any party affiliation and in so doing award my vote to whomever I believe has the best notion for moving us in a direction that will benefit the majority of Americans whether it is a federal, state or local election.

Having said that, what few friends I have may believe that in recent years, I have leaned more to the 'left'.  Whatever that is.  I'm not sure that I would characterize it as such, but I admit that I have become less impressed with the Republican party and view them much less favorably.  My comments in private and even in social media betray this attitude. Thus I seem to have lost my objectivity, my balanced apporach to all things political to some people for whom I have a deep respect.

Please do not interpret that as my being satisfied with or identifying myself with the Democratic party.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  On many, issues I find the Democrat position repugnant. 

The problem for me is that even as a Christian living in a secular society, I do not have the luxury of blindly supporting the Republican party because they supposedly represent moral values more.  First of all, I'm not convinced that they do.  Second, I expect Democrats to behave in ways that are perceived by moralists as wrong, therefore the morality of their positions has greater weight on agreeing with them.  I expect that Democrats are going to support abortion, even though I do not.  So I approach how they treat the living as having more morality than Republicans positions.

Does that make any sense?

In other words, if Republicans are supposed to be the party of morality and yet the policies they pursue benefit the aristocracy at the expense of the majority...that is not a defensible position to support.  If Republicans value free enterprise so much yet game the tax code to put small businesses at a competitive disadvantage, that is contradictory at best, dishonest at worst.  If Republicans value life so much in the womb, why do they not seem concerned about quality of life once a baby is outside the womb?

And lastly and most recently, the behavior of the Republican party in the last 3 1/2 years has been detestable and unpatriotic.  The coordinated and concerted effort they have exerted in denying the current president the ability to govern goes beyond merely disagreeing with his policies.  They have put everything on hold for the sake of winning the upcoming election.  They have abdicated their Constitutional duty to govern to the will of party politics.  To me, that borders on treason.

Any movement I may have carried out on the surface, is not an internal betrayal of my core values.  Merely, it is perhaps a temporary resignation that these are the current choices and I am, by nature a political creature.  Though I live with one foot in this world and one in the kingdom to come that should not prevent me from having opinions that may differ with my more conservative friends.  Nor do I pretend to have the market cornered on truth.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Last Night's Debate

After watching the debate three words come to mind: Good, Bad and Ugly. First the good. Romney had a really good night; Stevie Wonder could see that he won the debate. He needed to. It is a perfect environment for him. I watched six Republican debates during the primary season and Romney frequently stood out because he aggressively insisted on replying to everything, regardless of the forum’s guide...lines. He is aggressive in these situations because he is in his element. He only has to relate to two people and he will try to boss them around. His aggression is what has made him very successful in business. That is the nature of politics and business. Governance is a different beast. He steamrolled over the moderator, disregarding rules and insisted in an almost bitchy demeanor to have more say. This attitude of 'my way' is a result of his business acumen. The problem is that the people of the United States of America are not a corporation, business nor a factory.

Yes, he won. But if we are honest with ourselves this debate was about the viability of the Romney campaign going forward. A poor performance last night would have written him off in some people’s minds. He was very clear about his desire to stay in the race and for that he should be commended. However, he displayed this by contorting the truth and facts in a way that detracts from the substance of his performance. The President several times mentioned the 5 trillion dollar cost of Romney’s tax cuts which is true. It is also true that Romney’s math does not add up. If you listened to the subtext of Romney’s denial of this claim he said that his lowering of rates and broadening the tax base would not add to the debt. He is right. The only way it works is if all major deductions that benefit the working class are eliminated. In which case all the flattening of rates in the world will still end up in the vast majority of Americans paying more taxes.

The bad. The president had a bad showing last night. No doubt about it. Some of this may be lack of preparation, and some it may be restraining himself from not telling Romney to shut up with his litany of lies, distortions and flip-flopping. I kind of wish the president would have verbally bitch slapped his opponent more than he did. He should have defended his record of results in spite of Republican anti-patriotic obstructionism. But then again, there are lots of reasons I am not president. The president needs to work on making his answers more concise, though he spoke directly at several points. He correctly pointed out that Romney has not and will not dissuade the more radical elements of his party if elected. The solution is a balanced approach to problem solving that the president advocated last night. That is something Romney will not be able to do if elected because he will be a hostage to the extreme base of his party.

And last, the ugly. Jim Lehrer is one of the last remaining journalists of integrity and it was downright dreadful to see him lose control of the format so quickly and early in the debate. Both candidates exceeded the parameters of time rules. The ugly manner in which Willard Mitt Romney repeatedly assaulted Lehrer and the format should be a cautionary tale for how Romney will treat the middle class if elected.

No candidate is perfect.   Romney had a good performance last night, but nobody should mistake performance for substance.