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

31 March 2007

Invest in America

Are you fearful for the future of our country? Do you long for government you can be proud of? Would you like our Constitution restored to a place of consequence? Do you want America to resume its role as the world’s beacon of reason and hope? Would you like politicians to lead without consultants, spinmeisters and mudslingers?

If so, there’s something you can do about it. You can invest in America.

There’s a fresh, new face running for president. He makes his own decisions and writes his own speeches. He wrote the speech that made him a contender, all by himself, without speechwriters or consultants. He’s not a member of the Bush Dynasty or the Clinton Dynasty. And he can’t start his own dynasty because his two girls are too young.

This candidate believes in unity, not division. He’s written a whole book about building consensus. His book shows his brilliance and his compassion, which is miles deep. If you want to see how much smarter, more centrist and more compassionate he is than any other candidate running, read his book: The Audacity of Hope.

By now, those of you who haven’t been living in the Gobi Desert without satellite TV know I’m talking about Senator Barack Obama of Illinois.

Some people worry about his so-called "inexperience." As I’ve shown in a separate post, his "inexperience" is a myth concocted by his opponents. He’s got eight years in the Illinois Senate under his belt, and he’ll have four years in the U.S. Senate by the time he gets to the White House. That puts him in the same class as Abraham Lincoln and four recent presidents.

Some people wonder whether Obama can be tough. A famous Hollywood financier recently switched support to Obama from his chief rival, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. The financier explained his move in part by accusing both Clintons of lying too easily. Senator Clinton tried to call Obama on the carpet, implying that Obama was playing dirty politics.

Obama didn’t huddle with consultants or read the polls. He trusted his own brains and common sense. He said he didn’t see why he should apologize for someone else’s words. When asked whether he valued the financier’s support, he said, “Absolutely.”

In a few polite, well-chosen words, Obama made three things clear. First, he’s smarter than his opponent. Second, he’s not about to distance himself from a remark that does him good and strikes a chord with lots of people. Third, anyone who thinks Obama’s going to rebuke a key supporter who just came over from his chief opponent’s camp is nuts.

Obama didn’t spend years organizing the toughest parts of Chicago for nothing. He wiped the floor with Clinton and her consultants without ever saying a nasty word or working up a sweat. That’s tough. And, unlike Senator Clinton, Obama didn’t take four years to figure out where he stands on the war in Iraq.

American politics hasn’t seen anyone remotely like Obama since Bobby Kennedy. Like Bobby, Obama can make stockbrokers and inner-city residents understand the benefits of real, open democracy. He can walk into any board room, court room, pool hall, veterans’ hospital, or homeless shelter in the nation and feel at home.

But unlike Bobby, Obama didn’t make it on his father’s money. He rose as nobody, out of nowhere, on his own unique blend of brains, skill, compassion, charisma, humor and guts. If you think that sounds a lot like a rail-splitter named Abe from the same state, you’ve got the right idea.

Like Lincoln, Obama is no ideologue. He’s promised to solve problems based on facts and evidence, not preconceptions or blind faith. And he seems to mean it. Even on "hot button" issues, he shows genuine understanding and sympathy for both sides. Wouldn’t that be nice, for a change?

So if you’ve spent the last six years whining, grumbling, decrying or wringing your hands, you now have something you can do. You can get off your duff, open your checkbook or Web browser and invest in America by supporting Obama’s campaign. (Or, if you are still unconvinced, you can buy and read his books to decide whether he’s the real thing. He is.)

Obama’s our candidate---yours and mine. No one owns him. What money he has came from his own honest work: royalties on his two books. So he’s clean.

We can keep him clean by making sure his campaign money comes from lots of small contributions. The more he gets from us, the people, the less he’ll need from the "big boys." So dig deep.

If you’ve got a stock portfolio, you can afford to give more. Why not take one percent of your portfolio (up to the limit of $2,300)⎯a typical market fluctuation of a few days⎯and send it to the Obama campaign? It’ll be the best long-term investment you’ll ever make in anything.

Could Obama stumble? Could he fail to win the Democratic nomination or the presidency? Sure. Investing is a risky business, and past performance is no guarantee of future success.

But if you’ve been following the news, you’ve got to see that Obama is shaping up nicely as a once-a-century leader. He’s got uncommon brains, skill, charisma and political instincts. He doesn’t need an evil genius like Karl Rove to win. All he needs is enough people who like his brand of politics, believe in him and want real change.

Obama can help us take our democracy back from the consultants, spinmeisters, lobbyists, masters of division and other professional cynics who’ve made such a mess of it. He’s bright, energetic, skilled and---best of all---uncorrupted. Smart investors back individuals, not dynasties, and Obama is the best we’ve got.

Smart investors also know that timing is everything. With the primaries now all bunching up before next March, the Democratic nomination will be history in about one year, probably much sooner. Money is more important earlier than ever: this summer could decide the race between Senators Obama and Clinton.

The "trial heat" ends today. By April 15, every candidate for president must report his or her total contributions as of midnight tonight. Those who do well will report sooner.

Obama needs our help to stay credible and move out of the pack. The pundits say he’ll need $24 million, by midnight tonight, to stay credible.

So invest in America now, while it still matters. It could be the best thing you ever did for your children and your country’s future.

* * *

If you like this message, send it on. Here’s how. While composing any e-mail, copy the following link, without any spaces at the end:


Type the words “Invest in America” in your e-mail and highlight (select) them. Click on "Edit," “Insert” and “Link” and paste the copied link in the box that appears on your screen. Click “OK,” and the words “Invest in America” should appear highlighted and linked. You can then finish your e-mail; any recipient can click on the “Invest in America” link and see this message. I promise not to enforce my copyright against any person who links to this post, or copies it, in support of Obama or for purposes of honest debate.

Obama’s first book, Dreams from My Father, is more autobiographical than political.

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