Diatribes of Jay

This is a blog of essays on public policy. It shuns ideology and applies facts, logic and math to economic, social and political problems. It has a subject-matter index, a list of recent posts, and permalinks at the ends of posts. Comments are moderated and may take time to appear. Note: Profile updated 4/7/12

04 November 2012


[For a detailed comparison of Obama’s and Romney’s achievements, click here. For comment on the kerfluffle re Libya, click here.]

Dear Voters,

With all the lies flowing around us, it may be hard to know what to do. It may even be hard to drag yourself to your polling place. But it ought to be easy to know what not to do. As you mull your votes and your responsibilities as citizens, please:

1. Don’t vote for blame.

One campaign is founded on blame. It blames the President for the deficits and wars that Dubya started, and for the lingering effects of the Crash of 2008, which economists say should take many years to dissipate. It blames him for the gridlock in Congress, which dates back to Bill Clinton’s presidency. It would blame him for Original Sin if it could get away with doing so. Don’t base your vote on blame.

2. Don’t reward gridlock.

You all know what happened. Just days after the President’s inauguration, Rush Limbaugh declared making him fail and dis-electing him the GOP’s primary goals. The President hadn’t even done anything before Rush threw down the gauntlet.

Speaker Boehner and Senate Minority Leader McConnell were embarrassed at first, but they soon signed onto this treasonous effort. Why? They had nothing else to offer you [1 and 2]. Their last president’s acts and policies had laid us low, and nothing in their views had changed.

Some Republicans voted for the 2009 stimulus package because their own economists told them we’d have another Great Depression without it, and they’d get the blame. But since then, the President has never gotten more than a handful of GOP votes for any legislative initiative, no matter how many GOP ideas it contained. And when they didn’t have a majority, the GOP used the filibuster, 142 times more frequently than it was used from World War I to the Vietnam War.

In poll after poll, you say you don’t like gridlock in Washington. Then don’t vote to reward it.

3. Don’t approve lies.

Mitt Romney had a character transplant—or at least a whole-body policy transplant—in the presidential debates. He still wants to reduce taxes, to fulfill his pledge to unelected right-wing extremist Grover Norquist. But on everything else he’s changed. He softened his emphasis or changed his entire view on abortion, “self-deportation,” privatizing Medicare, privatizing Social Security, cutting Medicaid, cutting welfare, making trade war with China, and bombing Iran.

You know that only one of his two faces is the real one, but which is it? Vote for honesty and reliability, not lies and flip-flops.

4. Don’t pick a pig in a poke.

Not only don’t you know which face Romney will show as president. You also can’t tell how competent he’ll be.

He made a lot of money in private equity, but that’s nothing like being president. If elected, with four years of experience in public office, he would be the least experienced president in American history, if you count our generals-presidents’ military commands.

In the White House, Mitt would be doing politics, not business. When put beside the President’s, his track record in that field is pathetic.

Mitt’s told us—many times—that he knows “what it takes” to do better. Yet we have nothing but his unreliable word for that. Don’t vote for bragging and bluster. Vote for experience and proven achievement.

5. Don’t buy used policy, even from a master salesman.

You know what values lie behind Mitt’s vague policies and incomplete plans. They’re the same ones the GOP has pushed since Reagan: lower taxes (especially on the rich), less regulation, more pollution, a weaker safety net, a bigger and more expensive military, and a more arrogant and unilateral foreign policy, which means more war.

You know that Mitt, despite all his flip-flops and late-campaign character transplant, endorses every one of these goals. He can hide Dubya and try to make us forget that Dubya ever existed. But he can’t hide himself.

Don’t let a master salesman sell you used policy. Kick the tires. Then vote to continue the change that you started in 2008. It’s not done yet. It’s just beginning.

6. Don’t reward distraction.

We have at least ten grave national problems. On average, they’ve festered for 17.5 years, since long before Barack Obama emerged on the national stage, let alone became president.

For at least a decade, the GOP has tried to distract you from these very real problems, with “social issues” like abortion, gay marriage, and religion. Today it has no solution for any of them except the national debt. And even there, its numbers don’t add up.

If you know anything about government, you know that a president has little influence, let alone control, over social issues. They are matters for Congress, the fifty states or individual consciences. So why make them big issues in presidential elections? Maybe the reason is a total lack of useful ideas on what government really can do.

Even in things a president can control, like foreign policy, the GOP has distracted us. For example, it has demagogued the recent tragedy in Libya, making us forget the President’s winning policy in Libya, Gaddafi’s demise, our steady crushing of terrorism, and our reliable support for legitimate Arab liberation.

If you vote for distraction, you’ll only get more of it. Vote for the guy with his eye on the ball.

7. Don’t approve division.

The GOP has a new lie. It’s born of sheer desperation. As the polls in key states turn toward the President, the GOP is now trying to blame our national divisiveness on him.

You know that’s a lie. You know how the President rose to national prominence: with his 2004 speech about one America, not a red or blue America. You know he wrote a whole book about centrism and bipartisanship, called “The Audacity of Hope.” You know how Democrats, liberals and progressives have complained of his willingness to bend over backward to make a deal, as in continuing the Bush Tax Cuts for the rich. You know how many have called him “spineless” for his eagernness to compromise.

So you know, in your hearts, who’s responsible for the division. Don’t reward it, or it will just continue as far as the eye can see.

8. Don’t endorse hate.

From the primary campaign of 2008 to the present day, the President has faced the strongest avalanche of hate directed at any leader in my lifetime. They call him a “socialist,” distorting the very meaning of the word, although he’s a centrist. They call him an alien, although he was born in Hawaii. They call him a Muslim because of his middle name, but he’s a Christian.

They call him a racist, although he never mentioned race but once, in a masterful speech that challenged us to deal with race as adults. They call him a terrorist and Kenyan agent—code words for being half black.

You can feel the raw hate in the endless name-calling in public comments in any online medium. You know in your heart where it comes from.

In the debate on foreign policy, Mitt backed off from his extreme positions. He agreed with the President on most things. He just claimed he would do things better.

You know that foreign policy is where any president’s power is strongest. You know it’s the only field in which he can act without Congress. So when two men say they would do much the same thing where they have the most power, there’s no reason to hate one.

You know in your heart the source of it all: a rehash of our Civil War. Don’t succumb to it, and for God’s sake don’t add to it. Let’s put that ugly chapter behind us once and for all.

9. Don’t support tribalism.

If you are white, like me, you have a special responsibility. You are in a waning “majority,” which has ruled this country since its founding.

We whites fought ourselves in our Civil War. That war is still the bloodiest in our history, despite its relatively primitive weaponry. The good side of us won.

Don’t backslide. Go forward. You know in your heart its’s the only right path.

10. Don’t lose heart.

If you are black, brown, yellow or red, don’t give up.

In just a few short years, there will be no majority. Every racial group will be a minority, and we will all have to get along. Dr. King’s (and Rodney’s) dreams will come closer to fruition because there will be no alternative.

You don’t have to wait passively. You can bring those dreams closer right now, in this election. And you know that tens of millions of whites like me are with you.

Don’t let the hate, fear or disappointment discourage you. Go and vote, even if you have to crawl to the polls on crutches.

Help us all build a future based on competence, honesty, love, equality, justice, faith, and hope. Keep your eyes on the prize, not the lies.

Respectfully and prayerfully,




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