Election Day is Near at Hand
A week from now, we'll all wake up and be able to enjoy watching TV without having to endure the constant drone of political ads that seem to multiply exponentially each year. We will know whether the GOP has been able to wrest control of one or more houses of Congress. We'll have a better sense of the short term impact of the so-called Tea Party. And we'll get on with life. Indeed, we likely will see the stock market soar.
I'd like to make a few comments about the political forecast.
- Third party ads that are financed by unknown groups and corporations are impacting this election cycle -- though we don't know in what way to this point (there could be a backlash against candidates backed by shadowy groups that are financed by corporations protecting their own interests)
- Restating the first point, the recent Supreme Court ruling, allowing Corporations to spend whatever they wish on elections is having in my mind a negative impact on the elections.
- Concern about the anti-intellectualism present in this cycle. In its populist backlash against so-called "elitism" we're seeing a lot of rhetoric that is anti-science and simply anti-education. It's a "don't trust egg-head" mentality.
- Although politics can corrupt, political experience is helpful. Lobbyists prey on rookies. One of the reasons why California is in such bad shape is that the legislature no longer has experienced legislators, and so lobbyists have run amok.
- The Obama team has not done a good enough job selling its accomplishments. Here in Michigan ads are being run against the incumbent freshman Democrat, who has won the endorsement of all the local papers, suggesting that he voted for a failed stimulus plan that has cost Michigan jobs. Last I knew, the Obama administration had provided considerable support to two important industries in this district -- including Chrysler, which has its headquarters in Auburn Hills. And people are buying the rhetoric.
- Closer to home, I'm really dismayed by the politicized nature of judicial elections in the state of Michigan. I'm used to a very different system in California, where the governor appoints judges and they are then later confirmed by the voters in non-partisan elections. Here there are as many ads for the Supreme Court candidates as the governor, and not only that but they are nastier and more politicized than the ones for the gubernatorial candidates.
I'll leave it at that. My word of encouragement here is to go vote on Tuesday. I believe that this is an important election, one that may have a lot to do with the future of the country. We have a Republican Party leadership that has one thing on its mind -- making sure that President Obama is a one-term President. In other words, it's not the good of the country that is foremost in their mind, but regaining the White House, and with it power.
I will admit to being a left of center Democrat. I'm still a strong supporter of Barack Obama. I believe that the Health Care Reform that was passed this last year is an important building block to providing access to health care for all Americans. Did it go far enough? No. Does it need to be tweaked? Yes! Should it be repealed? I'm a pastor, so I shan't use the word I want to us, but no it shouldn't. In fact the majority of Americans don't want to see it repealed, they want to see it strengthened. As for financial regulatory reform so that we don't have a repeat of the Great Recession that we're still clawing our way out of, well it's not a perfect bill. It doesn't go far enough, and yet once again it is a good beginning. As for the Stimulus, is it a failure? Well, as I remember it, not long after the last election the experts were saying that we would hit around 15% national unemployment. We never did. While unemployment is stuck at 9.6%, the economy is growing and things never got as bad as predicted. So, just maybe it did work, its just that the hole was so deep it's taking us a lot longer to dig out from it. And as for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- don't think that a McCain administration would have exited them earlier than an Obama one. McCain's platform called for going in deeper and staying longer. So, while I'm not "satisfied," by the progress of the last two years, I surely do not want to go back to what was.
Finally, I want to say I'm disappointed by the way the media has painted this election. It has from the very beginning, because of all the Tea Party ruckus, chanted the mantra about an enthusiasm gap. I believe it is a gap that the media has contributed to by its continued message that the Republicans will win and the Democrats will lose. Sometimes that message can have the effect of suppressing voter confidence. So, to the media -- shame on you!