84 Days Before Election Day 2012
I dream of a candidate who is honest, who tells the American people the truth – that our government has failed us because we as a people have begun looking at it as a surrogate parent who fights our battles for us and most importantly, gives us things that make us happy. I want a leader to explain to us that nothing is free, that there aren’t enough wealthy people on the planet that we can rob to provide us with free healthcare, defined benefit pension plans for all of our government workers, and low taxes.
I dream of a candidate who tells the poor that their condition should be temporary, that there is hope for them. I want a candidate to explain that every middle class and wealthy family did not arrive to this country rich, and for most of our history lived in a poverty that is unimaginable to us today. Yet they worked hard, often as slaves, sharecroppers or indentured servants, saved their money, and taught their children the skills they needed in life to do better than their parents. It often took generations for people to leave poverty behind in this country, but they all did it the same way – through hard work, education, self-discipline and priorities. They didn’t cover themselves in expensive tattoos or have their nails done. They didn’t outsource the responsibility of parenting and teaching their children to teachers. They saved every penny and dime, they taught their children themselves to support their lessons at school. They worked hard to create a better life for themselves and their families. The government did not shower people with money, and those who often found themselves in sudden wealth through luck or circumstance often lost it soon after, and I dream of a candidate who has the guts to say that to the American people. The leader teaches the people that the safety net is their for them, but like any safety net hanging below an acrobat, it is meant to bounce people up to safety. It is there to support them temporarily, and is not meant for them to lay upon permanently.
I dream of a candidate who tells the rich that they aren’t special just because they are successful. While most wealth in this country was hard earned, it is not the government’s job to protect the wealthy or provide them tax breaks to make them even wealthier. All of the great families in this country including the neo-royalty of the Kennedy clan arrived here in filthy coffin ships or packed like sardines and half-starved from months-long voyages that cost them everything. They must be reminded that wealth is fleeting, and that someday the descendant of the Mexican gardener that trims their lawns might employ their grandson or granddaughter, and consequently everyone deserves respect regardless of the size of their bank accounts.
I dream of a candidate that gets the government out of business, that tells Wall Street that while the regulatory hand on their business may not be as heavy as some may insist, it is time for laissez faire to return to the markets. To that end I dream of a candidate who sets about breaking up banks that are “too big to fail” and separating the boring bits of banking from the “exciting” risk takers of the investment bankers and derivatives traders. The days of the government being the lender of last resort, or what normal people would recognize as a metaphorical analog of their parents to come bail their asses out of a mess they created, are over. Every American already has a set of parents, and that includes Wall Street bankers. They can clean up their own messes and shouldn’t expect the government to make them whole again.
I dream of a candidate that recognizes that the American health care system is slowly imploding, and is willing to do something about it. That “something” means working with all stakeholders regardless of political affiliation to begin to address the issues at the core of the failing system. People have no idea what a doctor’s visit or a procedure costs while they are in the office. They have no concept of the cost of the services they consume, perhaps the only example of this opaque pricing in our economy. Such a candidate will ask “Why is it possible for me to buy car insurance from a nationwide provider but not health insurance?” The candidate will ask the American people whether they love the post office so much that they are willing to turn their doctor’s office into one. At the same time this leader will ask the trial lawyers how they can sleep at night knowing they inflate medical costs through excessive payouts and defensive medicine. The candidate will promise them that sleepless nights await them once he or she takes office.
I dream of a candidate who tells the rest of the world that America’s success does not come at its expense, and that the truth is quite the opposite that America prospers when the rest of the world grows richer and more peaceful. To that end he or she will offer friendship to Russia and China, but back the offer up with a strong, professional military. This leader will teach these nations that it is possible for an American to be a Sinophile or a Russophile and a patriotic American, that to love one’s country does not displace any others from their heart. As for our terrorist foes, he or she will promise them that they can run, but they will only die tired. Their future is short and ends at the tip of a hellfire missile or a SOCOM bullet. The candidate will reward America’s friends, present an open hand of friendship to the wary, and an iron fist drenched in blood to our enemies.
I dream of a candidate that tells the elderly that their future is safe and they’ve endured enough changes recently, but turns to those in middle age and asks whether we are prepared to sacrifice a few more years of working for a guaranteed retirement a quarter century from now. I dream of a candidate I can disagree with on issues great and small without fear that deep down he or she disdains the country that he or she rules. I want a leader who shows humility and gratitude to the American people for selecting him or her to rule them, and will do so to the best of his or her ability even if it means skipping a few rounds of golf.
Finally, I hope that someday America deserves such a candidate because I’m not sure it does now.