Wednesday, October 15, 2008


1964 was the first election that I can remember much about. '64 was the year when Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson went up against Republican Barry Goldwater. I remember it mostly because my parents were strongly in favor of Goldwater. (Johnson won handily, of course, and the rest is history. Or "Great Society," as Johnson liked to call it.)

(I remember earlier presidents. Eisenhower came to Boise and I saw him as a young kid, at a rally at the "BJC Gymnasium," which was the biggest venue in town at the time. And of course I remember Kennedy - I remember the "Cuban Missile Crisis," and vividly recall the fateful day that ended his presidency.)

Back in '64, the line between the two parties was more clearly drawn, IMO.

The Democrats were proponents of social (government) programs to attack society's woes, like poverty, illiteracy, etc. The Republicans were more of the philosophy of "keep government out of the way, and let people govern themselves."

When I was an idealistic youth, the notion of the government taking care of society's problems had a lot of appeal. But as I have matured - maybe it was parental influence, or maybe just pragmatism - my viewpoint has evolved to become solidly "small government is good government."

I've spent a lifetime observing that government "solutions" are almost always at best inefficient, and at worst colossal disasters.

Look at Social Security, for example. What a great notion! A government program that will provide a lifetime of income to its retired citizens, paid for by the next generation. I've got a huge stake in Social Security. Between myself and my employers, we've contributed over $130,000, that would otherwise have been in my paychecks. (And maybe in my self-managed private retirement account, along with interest.) So... it's in a government account instead... right? Heck NO! It's gone into the giant government bucket and gets spent as quickly as it goes in. Along with billions that are borrowed. The other shoe just hasn't dropped yet.

So you'd think I'd be solidly Republican, huh?

Not necessarily so.

The parties have evolved, too. Or at least the politicians of those parties. The lines have been blurred.

Look at 2008.

In this corner, we have Democrat Barack Obama. He's making a lot of promises - "change we can believe in." His whole life seems to have been evolving toward a philosophy that government can - and should - be addressing most of the problems we're having, or might have.

Of course, social programs cost money. Obama doesn't talk much about money in his awesome, eloquent speeches. But when he does, he talks about taking more from those in the highest income brackets, and from corporations, etc. (Which should appeal to us poor folks, huh? We'll get more from government, while not paying any more.)

That's pretty much the Democratic Party Line.

How about the other guy?

Republican John McCain has always fancied himself the "maverick." The guy who will cross over the blurred party lines when it suits him. The man who isn't afraid to align himself with the Democrats, to get things done.

What's John McCain's philosophy? I really don't know. All I know is, it's not necessarily the "Republican platform," or the "Democrat platform."

Although he's been a career politician, he isn't distinguished as a fiscal conservative. He's voted for plenty of new social programs and increased spending over the years. He loves pork as much as the next guy. And he's currently advocating additional government solutions to the current-events problems we're facing, more regulations (more government oversight), etc., etc.

And how will McCain pay for it?

He doesn't talk much about money, either. But when he does... he promises a tax CUT! (In theory, that would stimulate the economy, resulting in more revenue for government, in the long run. In the meantime, we'll just borrow more money!)

The Hallowed Halls of Government are packed with politicians - both Democrat and Republican - who love Big Government, and are doing everything they can to expand it.

No matter who we vote for - McCain or Obama - Happy Days are Here Again! (If we believe what they're telling us.)

How about the "social issues"?

I think we can all agree the two "biggies" are abortion and guns.

There seems to be some space between the two candidates. Although oddly, neither seems eager to discuss their differences. (And they haven't come up in the debates, at least so far.) Perhaps they are afraid that if they come across as ideologues on those issues, it will turn off some of their voters.

Obama seems to lean pro-abortion, anti-gun. McCain seems to lean anti-abortion, pro-gun.

And maybe that's enough. But I wish they had the courage to declare forcefully their beliefs.

Are these the best two guys we've got? Frankly, it doesn't give me a lot of confidence. I pray for this great country, no matter who is our next president. And it will be one of these two guys.

Why can't we vote NONE OF THE ABOVE, and have a do-over?

I'm seriously leaning toward voting "none of the above" by voting for Bob Barr, the Libertarian candidate.

My own philosophy leans Libertarian (although certainly not "party line"), and I've voted for Libertarians several times in the past. Where it differs, it mostly aligns with Bob Barr. (And unless I'm running for President myself, I will NOT find somebody I'm in total agreement with.)

"Why would you throw away your vote?" you might ask.

Which is better, throwing a vote away, or voting for a guy you don't like, for the job? (Or casting a vote against the guy you don't like even more?)

The Demicans and Republocrats have had 232 years to get it right. Maybe it's time to look at an alternative.

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