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2008 Presidential Race

>Do we really want someone who will bring the two parties together?

>A common cliche I hear over and over again this election season is that “we need someone who can bring the two parties together and accomplish the work of the American people. Candidate X is the candidate who can unite us.” Sounds good. Its an effective applause line. We heard similar rhetoric in 2000 when George W. Bush claimed to be a uniter, not a divider. But what does it really mean? What are we uniting around? Maybe more importantly, do we really want the President and the Congress to be about the work of the American people, aka: passing more and more legislation?

First, here’s what we are supposed to unite around. One, the candidates want us to unite around them. Much of our politics is infused with a celebrity-oriented, entertainment type of quality. The candidates work to strike certain poses. Everything is crafted to portray specific images. Poses and images, not substance. Personality trumps principle. Secondly, when we are actually presented with ideas to unite around they are so generic that anyone could support them. For instance, the Governor of Massachusetts in an editorial today gave this explanation for Why America Needs Obama: “At a time when so many of us – Democrats, Republicans, and independents – are tired of petty division and desperate for change, Obama makes a claim on all of us to join in restoring the American dream.” The American dream has been lost and only Obama can restore it. The American dream – who’s gonna argue against that? If we could ever get the candidates to give us the details of what the American dream means to them, we’d see that Democrats and Republicans have radically different ideas about what the American dream looks like (yes, they do). Instead, when we are given ideas to unite around they are catch-lines such as “Change!,” “Leadership. Now,” “Moving Forward” and the like. The big ideas we are given to unite around are carefully-crafted personalities and focus group-tested catch phrases.

Next, do we really want someone who is going to reach across party lines to accomplish the work of the American people? The work of the American people in pol-speak is more legislation. That’s not what we want, is it? The last thing we need is a candidate who’s going to work with the Congress to expand the government’s cradle-to-grave control over our lives. The last thing we need is more government solutions to cure all the world’s ailments. And I don’t think its too much of a stretch to say that our elected officials don’t have a very good track record of reaching across party lines to pass legislation. Remember the Bush/Kennedy education bill? If that’s what bringing the parties together means, I don’t want it.

Here is what I want. I want a candidate who can lay out a vision of executive leadership that is based on principle rather than flash and sizzle. Conservative principles, of course. Lead a majority movement of traditional-minded, conservative-living, hard-working citizens from both parties, like Reagan did, and earn a mandate from the people. Have the other party get on board with your agenda rather than sticking your finger in the wind and caving in on the principles that got you elected. This is what Reagan did even with a Democrat-controlled Congress and it can be done again. He didn’t cave in to those whose policies would be bad for the nation just for the sake of bringing the parties together. He didn’t bow before a hostile media in order to give a false impression of unity.

I do want a President who is going to go to work for the American people but I care much more about what they’re going to do and how they’re going to do it than I do about the air-brushed personalities and spin-doctored platitudes we’re being fed in this election. Character over celebrity, principles over pop, and substance over slick style. That’s what I want. Which candidate can step up to the plate?

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Discussion

5 thoughts on “>Do we really want someone who will bring the two parties together?

  1. >There’s no doubt it could turn into that. It wouldn’t be safe to assume that it could never happen in the US. I do think, however, that the monarchic mindset of the Brits is a far cry from what we know. They really don’t find it offensive for the most part for government to interfere in their lives. I think they kind of expect it. I do think we have entered into a new era of American politics. So I wouldn’t rule anything out. I just hope it doesn’t happen while I’m gone so that when I come back I feel like I am still in England! You keep ’em straight in the meantime!I feel like the real danger we face is losing the balance of power we have known for so long. That has been the strength of the American government. Ever so often the power shifts. It is never good for it to be in the hands of one party too long. This forces us to work together. No one party is responsible for all the good or all the bad in American political and governmental history. It has been a combination of people on both sides who have made this country what it is. But this new era seems to be like what you have described in your post. I glitz campaign of empty promises, Crest-white smiles, grandstanding, and hoopla! It seems as if the two sides are no longer simply competitive, it almost appears as if they genuinely hate one another. I think the media has created an arena of face-time competition that has created an individualistic attempt for each of the candidates to try and become a “star” rather than president. One wonders whether they are more interested in promoting themselves or whether they are genuinely concerned about the future of our country?

    Posted by Mark Mathews | January 6, 2008, 7:03 pm
  2. >”There is no such animal as cradle-to-grave control in the US.”You’re right. Not yet. We’re headed there step by step. Slowly but surely. I hope I’m proven wrong. I hope we can reverse the trend.

    Posted by Jeff Wright | January 6, 2008, 4:07 pm
  3. >Character over celebrity, principles over pop, and substance over slick style. That’s what I want. Which candidate can step up to the plate?———————————–None of them! We don’t have the quality of candidate in this race that could be said to be in the same league as Reagan.I agree with Hannah, this sounds very Ron Paul-ish. ———————————–The last thing we need is a candidate who’s going to work with the Congress to expand the government’s cradle-to-grave control over our lives. The last thing we need is more government solutions to cure all the world’s ailments. ———————————–This might be far over-stated. Dear friend, the American government by no means has cradle-to-grave control over anybody in the US. This sounds like some of the glitzy statements Mr. Paul might make. Five months ago I would probably have made the same comment, but I’ll tell you, brother, we’ve got it made in America!!!! There is no such animal as cradle-to-grave control in the US. As you know I am presently living in England with my family. One would think that England, a major power in the world scene would be as much like the US as any country. But here cradle-to-grave doesn’t even come close. Here it is more like day-to-day control. We are meeting with a home health care visitor next week and are anticipating having to defend our right to homeschool our children while we are here. They just passed legislation that calls for the reduction of commercials relating to food by 50% next year. They have their nose in everything! The government here is FAR too involved in people’s lives. Don’t get me wrong, we like it here, but we have amuch stronger sense of the government’s control and presence in our lives. We never experienced this at home in America. The biggest problem here is not so much that they get involved so closely but that they don’t think it’s wrong. This makes us long for home. I just wonder, though, to what extent can we honestly say that everything Congress does is in an effort to “control” our lives?

    Posted by Mark Mathews | January 6, 2008, 3:33 pm
  4. >Welcome, Hannah! Paul is a man of character and principle and he avoids the posturing and focus-group slogans but he loses a lot of conservatives on the “what” and “how.” I watched the debate last night and was disappointed to hear his explanation of why Islamo-fascists want to defeat us.

    Posted by Jeff Wright | January 6, 2008, 3:12 pm
  5. >Sounds like Ron Paul to me. 🙂

    Posted by Hannah | January 6, 2008, 2:19 pm

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