4 Things To Remember On Election Day

presidential-electionIt’s difficult to talk about this American election without somebody going off the deep end.  People all over the world have drawn their own Clinton/Trump battle lines and are defeating them to the death.  Plus, from what I’ve seen in my own country, neither side is taking any prisoners and both sides are shooting the wounded.  Nobody on this planet is indifferent to what’s going to happen in America today.  This is full contact politics. and it’s not for the faint of heart.

However, this is America’s Election Day and we need to remember a few things before tearing our hair out, shooting our mouth off or declaring the Antichrist has risen and the Apocalypse is upon us.

1 — These are Americans.  They’re loud, they’re noisy, they’re brassy, and they’re rude to each other — but they don’t mean anything by it.  Most of the shouting done during an election is just rah! rah! rah! from the cheap seats.  It’s not serious.  The time to take Americans seriously is when they’re not shouting at each other.  (Remember what happened when they quit calling George III names?)

2 — Americans are not as dumb as the rest of the world thinks they are.  The stereotypical redneck from Rubberboot, Arkansas is funny — to a  point.  However, remember that Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Disney — and a whole lot more — are all American companies, fueled by American ideas.  This election might look a bit hillbilly from the outside, but most Americans know what’s at stake and are making their choice accordingly.

3 — The President of the United States doesn’t have as much power as a lot of people think.  The beauty of the American system is that each one of the three branches of government keeps a wary eye on the other two branches — so nobody really steps out of line.  Rhetoric is easy, and all candidates talk a good fight (see #1) but the President of the United States is not a monarch, a dictator or even a pro-consul, and once they’re in the Oval office, they find that out — very quickly.

4 — The sun is going to come up tomorrow — just the same way it did the day after Lincoln was elected, or the morning after Teddy Roosevelt was sworn into office, or even after George W. Bush won The Battle of the Hanging Chads in 2000.  (FYI, every one of those events was labelled the end of the world — at the time.)

This is our time, and regardless of who wins today or what the various media outlets say about it, it’s not  going to be the end of the world.  However, just one more word of advice: buckle up, boys and girls! The next four years are going to be interesting.

Why the Republicans Lost

Now that the 48 hour news cycle is over and the shrill voices of victory and defeat have shut the hell up (almost) it’s safe to take an adult look at what happened last Tuesday.  How did Barack Obama snatch victory from the jaws of Mitt Romney’s defeat?  Partisan politics aside, President Obama was not only beatable, he should have been beaten.  The Obama administration’s accomplishments can be counted on one hand: it “got” Bin Laden.  One the other hand, you need more hands.  After four years of Obamanomics, the economy is still staggering around as if it’s been pistol-whipped.  Despite a gabillion dollar taxpayer-financed smackdown, unemployment remains standing, smirking defiantly at nearly 8%.   Yet, even as consumers are losing their ability to pay, prices are increasing.  Gas, for example, is up 75% in some places.  American debt is over 16 trillion dollars — an unfathomable amount that could have financed the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Age of Reason and both World Wars.  Plus, that debt is increasing faster than even the government bean counters can count — over 3.8 billion dollars – per day.  Half the country doesn’t want Obamacare, there are more illegal aliens in America than regular ones, there’s been a fatal Al Qaeda attack that’s getting covered up, Iran is about to go nuclear, Syria is not responding to Hillary’s harsh words and on and on and on.  I’m going to stop here because it looks like I’m ragging on the guy.  I’m not; these are just the un-spun facts.  Looking at them objectively, there’s no way Barack Obama should still be president: they threw Hoover, Carter and Bush (41) out for less.  Yet there he is — back in the Oval Office — and you’ve got to wonder why?

The answer’s quite simple, really.  The Republicans look like idiots.  What started out as a serious campaign about policy and ideas disintegrated as if it’d been hit by the Death Star – and it was all self-induced.  You know you’re in trouble when the biggest name brand guy at your national convention is talking to a chair!  From there, everything just went downhill so fast even Lance Armstrong couldn’t have caught it — and he was taking elephant hormones.  For the next nine weeks (aside from the one brief, shining moment of the first presidential debate) Republicans played “Where’s Waldo?” with their credibility — and lost.

It is very difficult to carry on a reasonable discussion — even with people who want to listen — when you’re busy justifying, excusing and, finally, apologizing for “God’s infinite plan for legitimate rape” or some other such nonsense.  Under these circumstances, it’s impossible to elaborate on anything more than a face plant.  And that happened twice!  All the people blaming Romney for the Republican loss should take at look at Akin, Mourdock and a few others before they pass judgement.  Where did they find those guys?  Hanging out back in 1951?

Then there’s Donald Trump, the gasbag with hair.  Right in the middle of everything, this guy goes snarling Daddy Warbucks, waving a check for 5 mil in the air, and talking to the President of the United States as if he were some hotel maitre d’.  First of all, Donald, what makes you think Barack Obama is going to be swayed by five million dollars when, as president, he can pick up the telephone and give any charity he likes ten times that much – or more  – and he doesn’t even have to dial the number?  Secondly, give it a rest; even if the guy weren’t an American, it’s too late now.  You’re a day late and several million dollars short!  The only thing Trump accomplished with his comic book theatrics was to join Fox News in making everyone who is even slightly further right wing than Winnie the Pooh look like a moron.

Furthermore, Americans are a live-and-let-live kind of people.  They value their independence.  They fought a revolution over it.  It’s written in their constitution.  How Republicans, of all people, forgot this is mind boggling.  Yet, straight out of the gate, they start telling everybody that the road to hell is paved with abortion, same-sex marriage and marijuana.  From that moment on, it was the Democrats versus the “I’m-Your-Dad” party and nobody in the GOP did anything to tarnish that image.  Even if the Republicans aren’t the party of old white men, you’d never know it.

Despite what the pundits are telling us, the 2012 election was not a rout.  In fact, it was relatively close.  The Republicans fell a few hundred thousand strategically placed votes short of sending Romney and Ryan to the White House.  The reason they lost is not, heaven forbid, they weren’t conservative enough (if that’s possible) nor that they were too conservative.  There are plenty of fiscally conservative voters in America.  The problem is Republicans have become the mirror image of the lockstep, politically correct fascists they so love to hate.  For every strident liberal attitude, there is an equal and opposite Republican reaction.  And that’s all the average voter thinks they have to offer.

It’s time for the Republican Party to quit experimenting with social engineering.  That day is over.  They need to stop relying on the worn out “thou shalt not” social agenda of the religious right for their party platform.  They need to end their dependence on the “remember when” Tea Party for their political punch.  And they need to listen to people like Christie, Walker, Huntsman, Graham, Rubio and, yes, even Jeb Bush — to hear there are new ideas out there — new and better ways to do business.  They need to offer America new solutions that don’t involve telling Americans what they can and cannot do.  They need to do all this because you can’t govern if you can’t get elected and you can’t get elected if you’re quagmired in social controversy.

It’s either give up the social agenda or resign yourself to go soul-searching every four years for a long time.

Congratulations, Mr. President

Way back in the 20th century, before journalists could write their copy on the commuter train, click an icon,  and have it arrive at the newsroom before they did, important, time-sensitive stories were written in advance.  In those days, the unforgiving mechanics of producing an early edition newspaper or the Evening News etched all deadlines in stone.   Miss a deadline, and your career could be written on a tombstone – sometimes literally.  So things like celebrity births, obituaries and most anything else that was invariably going to happen, were written, sometimes weeks, sometimes even months before the event.  In fact, one of the first assignments any junior, junior copywriter, with nothing to do, was given was obituaries (not writing them, updating them; the second-most boring job in the world*.)  Then, when the inevitable happened, the completed copy was hauled out, tweaked to reflect whatever current conditions applied, and published — as if it were fresh off the presses.    Even sports championships — and, yes, presidential elections results — were written long before the outcome was ever decided.  Obviously, since there are winners and losers to such things and two sides to every story, good journalists would have copy ready for whatever outcome.  Therefore, and with a tip of the hat to the Chicago Tribune, I wrote two blogs last week to cover yesterday’s presidential election.

In one of the closest elections in US history, Republican challenger Mitt Romney managed to squeak out a victory over President Barack Obama and take over the White House.  Even in a deeply divided nation, it’s clear that the American people did not trust President Obama for another four years.  Mitt Romney’s increasingly moderate stance was enough to unseat the incumbent.  Now, the real work can begin.

The president faces some severe challenges.

The American economy is still faltering.  The #1 priority must be jobs.  The unemployment rate is hovering close to double digits in some places: this is unacceptable.  There must be a clear and immediate strategy that not only kick-starts the market place but also instills long-term confidence.  Therefore, the first thing the president needs to do is author a budget that deals with the fiscal cliff that America now faces.  America can no longer think it can borrow itself out of debt.  It must control its own trade, reduce the trade deficit, abandon the worn-out smokestack industries of the 20th century and educate its young people to fill the needs of the 21st.  And right now, as of yesterday, the president must convince an overtly conservative congress to set aside its social agenda and resolve to solve this economic crisis — now.  If he doesn’t do that nothing else matters.

So, Mr. President, it’s time to get on with it.  Good luck!

In one of the closest elections in US history, President Barack Obama managed to fend off Republican challenger Mitt Romney to remain in the White House.  Even in a deeply divided nation, it’s clear that the American people trust President Obama for another four years.  Mitt Romney’s increasingly moderate stance was not enough to unseat the incumbent.  Now, the real work can begin.

The president faces some severe challenges.

The American economy is still faltering.  The #1 priority must be jobs.  The unemployment rate is hovering close to double digits in some places: this is unacceptable.  There must be a clear and immediate strategy that not only kick-starts the market place but also instills long-term confidence.  Therefore, the first thing the president needs to do is author a budget that deals with the fiscal cliff that America now faces.  America can no longer think it can borrow itself out of debt.  It must control its own trade, reduce the trade deficit, abandon the worn-out smokestack industries of the 20th century and educate its young people to fill the needs of the 21st.  And right now, as of yesterday, the president must convince an overtly conservative congress to set aside its social agenda and resolve to solve this economic crisis — now.  If he doesn’t do that nothing else matters.

So, Mr. President, it’s time to get on with it.  Good luck!

*To keep their insanity, one of the universal activities of junior, junior copywriters was to produce humourous future obituaries of the rich and famous, that got hilariously passed around the newsroom.  Unfortunately, sometimes these Twainesque gems found their way into print.  Once, in the 1980s, Arizona Senator, Barry Goldwater, was admitted to hospital for routine surgery.  In the rush to make the Early Edition, nobody bothered to read the single-column, front page, puff-piece which erroneously reported that “Barry” had been eaten by a lost colony of hippies. The results were national embarrassment for a self-conscious desert newspaper and a spectacular career in investigative reporting stalled (Read “fired”) before it ever got started.