What have you done for me lately?

In the blogosphere, real life doesn’t factor.  You are what you are perceived to be.  Your importance is only relative to what you post.  And your relevance begins to wane with each passing moment that you don’t say something pithy or current.  So, it doesn’t really surprise me much that my views have precipitously dropped away since I have been out of town and dealing with “real life” for a few weeks.

When I started blogging, In intended to write every day.  And I intended to spend most of my time on political thought.  But, since I am not paid to write, I often have trouble finding such conversation relevant to my life.  It’s not that I don’t think there is a woeful lack of knowledge in this area or that there isn’t a crying need for someone to step up and educate people.  It’s more that fact that, as we draw down to the next presidential election, people become less interested in theory and more interested in partisan ammunition.  Once doesn’t have to be a genius to understand why Limbaugh, Coulter et al on the one side and Maddow, McDonald et al of the other side are getting the majority of the play now.  Each side is looking for just one more artillery shell with which to bomb the other side’s candidate before the big day arrives.  There is no time for exploring anything that approaches the middle ground or that undermines both sides.  Everything must be lock-step pro and con.

I spent the last two weeks on a roof.  Get the old shingles off, fix the holes, get the new shingles on. The only winds of change and climate of the nation that concerned me was the actual winds and climate.  It’s me against the approaching winter.  Neither Obama nor Romney is going to help me weatherproof the roof.  (Needless to say, blog hits weren’t high on the priority list either).  And yet, I was not entirely oblivious to events.  I did manage to catch the first presidential debate.  Might as well watch it while I’m trying to allow the screaming pain in my calves and back to subside.

I don’t think we really learned anything new during the debates about the actual candidates.  But it is intriguing to watch the post-debate spin.  The general feeling seems to be that Obama had his hat handed to him by Romney.  My general impression was that Romney came prepared to speak within the allotted time constraints and Obama didn’t.  Romney was ready for rebuttal and Obama wasn’t.  Romney looked happy to be there and Obama didn’t.   Other than that, I learned, substantively, very little.  So, as usual, all the talk since the debate has been about style, not substance.

So, what is this election really about?  What is the crux of all elections, when we really boil them down.  It’s usually about a perception.  Which candidate gives the better perception that he or she can better fill the job requirements?  Which seems like the better leader?  Of course, there are always that 5% to 10% that really understand the ideologies and vote on that basis.  But the rest don’t seem to understand that there are ideological differences.  They just vote for the guy or gal that gives them a good feeling.

I guess this is what makes Democrats of the moment so down in the mouth. Obama just didn’t give that good vibe,  Republicans, on the other hand, are jumping with glee, because Romney actually looked commanding.  But, Democrats are quick to point out that debates don’t really matter much anyway.  They are also quick to say Obama’s performance was just an anomaly, that he wasn’t up to his usual brilliant standards, and that he’ll be more prepared next time.  After all, he is so busy that he couldn’t even bothered to show up until a few hours before.  His focus isn’t really on the debates.

Romney’s people, on the other hand, have to believe that their man was finally able to take off the gloves and land some good punches in the public arena.  For a change, instead of jousting windmills, he was able to go toe-to-toe with the real live opponent and put him on the ropes.  For many Republicans, his performance was reminiscent of Reagan.  They are hoping against hope for a repeat of those glory days, and hoping that this signals the beginning of the second coming.

Well, the partisan faithful can believe what they want to believe, and then there will be the truth.  And the truth is that it’s really going to depend where the undecided voters turn to get their spin.  Ratings suggest that 67 million households watched the debate.  While those are big numbers, it’s quite likely that they represent mostly die-hards from both sides and probably not a lot of the people in the middle.   So, the media is going to be telling most undecided voters how the debate went.  And, as I said before, this means very little substantial help to anyone.

The Green Bay Packers lost twice and won once while I was roofing.  What if they had won all three, or lost all three?  Would that have changed the pitch of the roof?  Would that have made the weather warmer or colder?  Would the number of shingles required to finish the job have changed?  Of course not.  It’s just a game.  In the same sense, the debate is just a game.  The real question is:  Mr. Obama what have you done for me lately?  Being president of the United States is no game.  Failure to lead doesn’t just result in less to cheer about on Monday.  Higher deficits and higher taxes (no, not the income tax, the REAL taxes no one talks about) take money out of my pocket.  Inflation means my shingles cost more.  Having to pay a tax because I can’t afford health insurance means I have to get a second job just to pay taxes.  Misdirected energy policies mean I have to raise rates to pay for the gas or settle for lower profits.  Lower profits mean another year below the poverty line.

While I watch millions more people line up to take from the government instead of being able to support the government, I will fail to qualify to have heat and electric in my house for yet another year, because owning three houses somehow makes me rich.  Policies that label people by gross instead of net have forced me into third-world living conditions.  It’s not that I want handouts from the government.  It’s that I want a chance to actually profit from business.  I want a chance to succeed without the expense of requiring slick lawyers and accountants.

I never voted for Mitt Romney.  I never voted for Obama.  About Obama, all I can say is that he has brought this country to the brink of financial disaster in the name of trying to stimulate the economy.  Regardless of whether the spin about a surging economy to come is true, what you have given me lately is no reason to trust you.  You said you would have us up and running in three years or step down.  Now it is three and a half years, and all you can say is that you underestimated the problem.  So, in other words, you really didn’t know what you were talking about four years ago.  But, we should believe that you have suddenly gotten smarter.  Considering that you were touted as a genius four years ago, that’s a hard pill to swallow.

Mr. Romney, on the other hand, has a record as governor that, while not perfect, at least shows a positive trend.  Many governors have made the jump to the White House with much success, and some have not.  But at least there is precedent that he at least will have some kind of idea what he is doing.  Mr. Clinton harps that he will take us backward.  I’m sure hope that is the case.  I hope he takes us all the way back to Reagan, the man who set the wheels in motion that drove the economy to great things.  The momentum of his leadership carried all the way through your presidency, Mr. Clinton.  So, I know that you have to toe the party line, but in your heart you also hope that Romney can actually get us back to where we once belonged.

I also had the opportunity for my first viewing of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington this week.  It’s a sobering movie.  When Mr. Smith gets to Washington, he discovers that everyone there is a sellout.  When he tries to call them on it, they try to frame him and destroy him.  In the end, someone gets a conscience and the truth comes out. It has amusing to watch all kinds of diversions and trumped-up charges come out against Mr. Romney.  Unfortunately, I don’t believe that Romney is a Boy Ranger.  And I’m not waiting for Obama to blurt out the truth at the last minute.  So I’m not holding my breath for a storybook ending.

But, seriously, Mr. Obama, what does Romney’s tax return have to do with the recession?  Since the top 1% only pay about 30% of taxes, even doubling what they pay in taxes couldn’t begin to cover the deficit.  So what have you done to decrease government spending to eliminate the deficit?

You have recently started to move toward a more centrist point of view on things such as student loans.  And you have started to address fundamental issues such as illegal immigration.  But, what have you done, or what are you promising to do, that someone else didn’t propose years ago that you rejected?  Are you a leader, or a follower?

Mr. Romney, recently you look like a leader, you talk like a leader.  You have the vision that I believe the leader of this country must have.  You want to let the people of this nation be the force that drives us to prosperity, instead of continuing to feed the innovation-destroying bureaucracy.  You want to streamline the jumble of laws into something with which most of us have a chance to comply.   I say that these are good starts to turning back the clock to the nation that once was the jewel of the world.  I don’t believe you can accomplish a complete transformation, because there is too much moneyed interest blocking a true return to free enterprise.  But at least you present the possibility that the innovative spirit of America can once again find real solutions to big problems without fear of government stifling the small guy or deciding winners and losers.  Mr. Romney, I have to vote for you.  I’m going to pray that you’ll be half the leader you are projecting.  Because half a leader is better than none.

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