Thoughts from a Frustrated Middle-Class Voter
It’s Election Day in America. It’s the day that the world anxiously turns its attention to our country to see who the citizens of America (well, more specifically the 538 electors which make up the Electoral College) will choose to lead this great nation for the next four years.
I am less than excited.
I am a middle class American, living in a average Midwestern city, driving a mid-sized sedan, probably about to go through a mid-life crisis. Like a lot of people I have strong political beliefs. Regardless of party affiliation, I think many Americans would agree with me that America is moving in the wrong direction. So without further ado here are 10 things that I don’t like about where the country I live in is headed.
1. I don’t like the economy. Actually it terrifies me. I don’t blame Obama and I don’t blame Bush either. It turns out we still can’t definitively prove exactly what caused any major recession we’ve ever had. We only get a better understanding of the real cause decades later. I do blame both Bush and Obama for not doing anything to make it better. Nobody can prove that the stimulus helped or hurt anything – and won’t be able to guess at it for years, but I know I don’t like the move. I think it was a short term panic maneuver that muddied the water…I won’t even say it “delayed” a disaster, I think it obfuscated the view of what lays ahead…purification by pain – on a national level.
2. I don’t like that the current administration did nothing to halt sequestration. I’m all for a smaller military, but the cuts have to be made the right way…by weighing risks, evaluating costs, and prioritizing capabilities – not by blindly cutting everything in half. Sequestration is a phenomenally irresponsible way to cut the defense budget and there will be long-term shockwaves of even more government inefficiency as thousands of defense units up and down the chain do unnatural things in a wild and desperate attempt to avoid losing half of their budgets.
3. I don’t like the notion that out-sourcing is automatically “bad” for America. Businesses that are under-performing or failing to manage their finances need to fail. They really do. That means all those people lose jobs and the people running the businesses don’t get paid. It’s terrible, but it’s not the end. America was built on people who failed only to get back up and succeed. When truly successful businesses are allowed to compete against other truly successful businesses (without ridiculous subsidies and/or protectionist loans), stable industries develop around tangible markets and kids can go to school (or adults can re-train) to learn skills that actually translate into economically supportable jobs. It is my belief that jobs exist because they make or make available something that somebody wants at a price others are sustainably willing to pay. Although it would not happen overnight, I believe everyone will benefit including America in a world where we allow our best industries to survive and our worst to fail. Once this happens and we end protectionism and free up trade markets, the result will be that the countries with a comparative advantage (in both labor and natural resources) in each market will thrive and consumers win with lower-priced and better-manufactured products.
4. I don’t like how the current administrations handled the Benghazi attacks. I think that they failed to act on plentiful, timely, and actionable intelligence, and then lied about having that intelligence (the same kind from the same agencies that enabled them to give the go order on Bin Laden). I don’t care whether or not they called it terrorism immediately, but it was stupid to try and blame it on a video…they had to know it wouldn’t hold up.
5. I don’t like how many people refuse to hold Obama accountable for his reversals of opinion. Like it or not (I don’t), some of that critical intel is still being extracted via Patriot Act programs and unsavory tactics employed in unsavory places (like Gitmo) that the media, ACLU, etc are perfectly content to let this administration use, unlike the last…even though they all (including Obama) called for Bush’s head for doing the same.
6. I don’t like paying for everyone’s medical care. I’d like to be able to provide unlimited medical, education, and infrastructure services for everyone, but it’s not sustainable. We can do more in better times, and I’m not against that, but these are not better times…we need significantly less spending. Everyone gets emergency services, and that’s about the best we can afford. Sorry. Private charity (children’s hospitals, religious organizations, etc) is the next best option, not the federal government.
7. I don’t like the progressive income tax. I’d rather have a lower flat income tax that everyone has to pay (including all immigrants – temporary or permanent – they are using our community services too), and implement something like the luxury tax model. If we stick with the current tax model I would love to see a real, detailed plan to clean up the tax code. I want to see what the actual increased tax revenue numbers would be if we cut down on deductions and loopholes. Romney/Ryan have mentioned this, but have never provided a real plan with figures. If the numbers make sense, I’m all for it.
8. I don’t like our current levels of foreign aid. We’re in no financial position to be paying for other people’s stuff…certainly not $72 billion worth of it (only $4.6 billion of that goes to Afghanistan). I’m all for temporary disaster relief, but only for finite amounts of time to achieve very specific results. Once this time or money runs out we have to make the tough call and pull out – hopefully participate in an international effort at a commensurate level, but recognize that we’re almost certainly not willing/able to spend enough to solve whatever the crisis is ourselves.
9. I don’t agree that pulling out of Iraq and Afghanistan are examples of good foreign policy. I’m not necessarily wild about the reason we were in Iraq, but I think there’s a case to be made for a continued U.S. presence there (and throughout the region) as a force of stability. I would prefer that the U.N. does this, but it is not willing. It’s easy to say “people will always hate us” and pretend like that’s an excuse to be isolationist, but I’m not willing to take that chance when some of those people who hate us have nuclear weapons.
10. I don’t like the Federal government infringing on peoples right to marry or have an abortion. These are individual choices that do not tangibly affect others. These are freedoms similar to those that America was built on.
Overall I value national security above all, followed by a small federal government that spends efficiently, enforces the constitution, lets the states handle civil rights issues, does not interfere with the free market (for better or for worse) and provides baseline educational, medical, and other social services that serve as minimum standards for communities to follow and exceed if possible, not sweeping programs that relieve private citizens of their responsibilities to work and achieve better for themselves. As you can tell, I also value run-on sentences.
Thanks for taking the time to read this friendly diatribe. This is just one frustrated man’s thoughts on the current state of our country. I’m sure many will disagree with me and I happily welcome the disagreement. Truthfully, I’d love nothing more than to see politicians put party politics behind them and come together to do what is right for America. This won’t happen as long as the extremists in both parties continue the screaming matches and the spreading of misinformation that has defined politics in the Information Age.
I do like civil, well-informed debate.