The WALTHER REPORT
By Tony Walther
Is experience what we really want to lead this nation now?
Qualifications sure. But we have all kinds of experienced folks in the government and look where we are: economic chaos, war (maybe unnecessary war at that), threats of war (especially from a resurgence in the rivalry for world power from Russia (and don’t forget the Chinese juggernaut and of course continuing Islamic extremist terrorism).
We are literally going broke on an individual by individual scale and a national scale (yes, of course there are always those smart and fortunate enough to be untouched, that was so even in the Great Depression, but you know what I mean), and the present government seems powerless and even unwilling to do anything, save bail out Wall Street.
This has to be the strangest and most important presidential election in this 59-year-old’s lifetime.
You have Democrats threatening to vote Republican and some Republicans indicating they’d just as soon vote Democrat.
Despite basic differences in governmental philosophy between Republicans and Democrats, it seems to me that both candidates and parties are converging to some extent on the issues, not totally, of course.
Many Republicans are perplexed with McCain’s surprise announcement that he chose a woman, Sarah Palin, fomer beauty queen and stay-at-home mom, but now first-term Alaska governor, for his running mate (vice presidential spot). Democrats are quick to point out she would be a heart beat away from the presidency with no real experience on the national scale.
But, without knowing much about her, I would point out that she is governor of a state of the United States. What qualifications do you really have to have? And look where experience (and maybe with Bush, lack of experience at first, but plenty now) has gotten us.
(By the way, Time online has a good article on Palin at http://www.time.com)
Without going over the issues point by point, the fundamental difference between the Republicans and Democrats is that the Republicans like to look at government as something to back up business interests and in so doing promote a robust economy that supposedly benefits all, but gives commerce a free rein, with only minimal control (generalizing for sure).
The Democrats, since Franklin Roosevelt, see a government that takes a more activist role in the lives of the general public, protecting them somewhat from the uncertainty and risks of economic cycles and looks after the general welfare – working together for the common good.
The Democrats push a lot of civil rights legislation (used to be primarily for blacks, now it’s gone into protection of homosexual rights and of women’s rights, immigration rights? ) and they are heavily into pushing some form of universal health care.
(And if I could just interrupt my own blog here. Why does universal health care seem like such a threat to so many? I’ve worked all my life and have paid a heck of a lot of health care premiums, still do, but if I can’t pay them anymore and want to get in on a universal system, does that threaten you who can pay? Certainly I would support a reform that lets everyone stay on their own plan if they have one and like it, but helps those in need. Yes, we all know that there will always be freeloaders in society who never do contribute but want to get in on help. So do we deny everyone for the sins of some? Thanks, I needed that.)
The Republicans even lean toward the Democrats in some of these social issues, but for the most part they contend that government should not go too far in legislating on social issues. However, the Republicans have taken up the mantle of ultra-conservatives and want to go heavily into legislating on what they see as moral issues, such as abortion, gay marriage, stem cell research. Back before the civil rights bills were passed in the 60s, conservative icon Barry Goldwater said: “you can’t legislate morality” (he was speaking against civil rights legislation). But the more modern conservatives seem to be big on legislating morality as they see it. They don’t mind government intrusion into personal lives.
I actually think that if this race stays close as it is now, you will see Barack Obama move toward McCain on some issues and you will see McCain move toward Obama on some issues (they already have a little at least).
It could be that both parties and both candidates are responding to the voters who want their government to do something constructive.
If Mrs. Palin lives up to her purported conservative, but maverick (and is that a contradiction in terms?) image, we might really be moving into a post-partisan period… maybe.
Even Barack Obama could lead us into a post-partisan period … I think it could happen.
I know, for conservatives he did sound quite socialist the other night, but like it or not, we have used quite a bit of socialism in this country for a long time. Look what happened when Bush tried to mess with Social Security.
The preceding can be considered a true blog, not an essay as I often try to write. I just wanted to put some thoughts out into the blogoshere.
Oh, and so there you have it. We have Obama, who could be president, with questionable experience, and Palin, who could be a heart beat away from the presidency, with zero experience, as it is usually defined in terms of the presidency.
Seems like experience has been somewhat removed from the issues.
Certainly Obama aims to push much harder on issues of social reform. Both Obama and McCain vow to push hard on the energy crisis and energy independence, if in slightly different ways, and both want to wrap up the warfare in the Middle East, Iraq especially. McCain gives the impression, though, that the stay would be longer there. And something said by Palin seemed to suggest McCain is itching to go into Iran. Obama wants to wrap up Iraq, but push harder in Afghanistan. Of course Obama is pro-choice (abortion rights) and McCain is not. Both men claim to follow the Christian faith, but McCain has pretty much vowed to support what one might call Christian fundamentalism (if only for political purposes).
Time to stop this blog. Thanks.