The Few, The Proud, The Voters
How do you feel about your vote in the primary? Of course you voted for the best candidate in each race. Did you know who you were voting for? Did you know what they stood for and why you voted for them? Did you vote at all?
Nearly 75% of Nebraska voters didn’t take the opportunity to cast their ballot yesterday. So chances are you didn’t vote. I’m guessing that if you did vote, you likely voted like most Americans and voted for the candidate that seemed like he or she had an economic policy that would benefit you the most (according to a recent Rasmussen Report). So, of the slightly more than 25% of Nebraskans who did vote, 75% of us focused on economics. I understand why this is the case, but you should understand why this is a bad idea.
All politicians tell you that they are going to institute the best economic policy for the people. It is as if they want us to believe that the economy is going to flourish, there will be no taxes, no need for regulation and no interference with our lives during their term(s) in office. They talk about it as though they have some magical power that will give them the ability to correct the economy in 3 years or less. Their magical powers sound so… progressive. They use terms like, progress, change, growth, development, partnership, expand and increase (except for things like spending and taxes).
Economic policy usually sounds differently to different people. For the working class, poor and needy, it means slightly better programs and services and if they are a wage earner. It may sound like slightly more money in every paycheck. Some don’t realize that the programs and services will cost the government so much that each paycheck will shrivel up as the taxes are sifted out of it.
For the more comfortable Americans, it can mean lower property taxes (which means very little to people who don’t own real estate or large ticket personal property items), better tax breaks on personal and business income (which doesn’t mean very much to people who live paycheck to paycheck and simply work for a business). It also gives them the impression that the rest of the country will have more disposable income to dispose on more purchases.
All politicians want to give everyone the impression that they are cutting taxes, lowering spending and being frugal will the tax money they do collect. In Nebraska, all politicians want to give farmers and those in the agricultural industry, the impression that they are going to fight for a strong farm bill, agricultural policies that protect the family farm and regulations that help the farmer maximize productivity without unnecessary oversight and costly regulations.
All of this is to give everyone the impression that there will be more money available to spend on new comforts and pleasures. In short, the American dream.
I’ve got some bad news for all of you lemmings who cast your vote for candidates because they have an exciting and attractive economic policy: They are all the same. Yep. There is only so much money and so many resources to go around and all the politicians do is move it from one place to another in order to look smart, busy and helpful (progressive). It’s just a grand shell game. One politician wants to “grow” a certain sector of the economy so he or she promotes a plan that will provide financial incentives to that sector. Was that money just laying around in some bank account? No, that incentive comes from some other industry or department that was already using 100% of it for something that may have been sorely needed by another group of citizens. Another candidate sees additional tax credits as a way to help one sector, so he or she calls for a tax credit for that sector. In other words, one sector receives a lower tax burden for a few years while another sector or the general population makes up the difference.
Words like progress, growth and expanding economy are used to satisfy those of us who see the shell game. As long as the politician uses these words, we can fool ourselves into believing that the economy will support everything because there will be more production, more efficiency and more demand.
During the campaign season (which never goes out of season), these are all just ideas, plans and promises. When the voters finally get to vote someone into office, all bets are off. The established politicians push and pull the newly elected official’s policy all over the place. There is give-and-take, negotiations, favors, threats and deception. Through all of the sausage making, the newly elected official counts on the fact that very few of us will ever take him or her to task for saying one thing during the campaign and doing another thing during his or her term. After all, they need to stay in office as long as possible which means that another election is coming in 4 years. If we are patient with them, maybe they will make good on their promise in their second term?
We are a confused society. We like (actually a better word is “worship”) our comforts in life. Our comforts tend to be all the things around us that make us feel good or the things advertised to us that make us want more things that will make us feel better. Therefore, we tend to vote for people who promise to do things that will make it more likely that we will be able to keep the things that make us feel good. Even more importantly, we like promises that will make us more able to buy more things that will make us feel even better. We are all stuck in the rut of consumerism. Our greatest fear is the possibility that we will be declined for the loan we need to buy our next piece of comfort.
We fall for this ruse every single time. The political machine knows, the media knows, and big business knows, that we crave to consume. As long as they can feed that need (which will not be forever), we will keep going down the rabbit hole. The only segment of America that doesn’t realize the folly is the vast majority of America which happens to include you and me. Well, at least you and I now know it. Right?
Here is the truth behind all of this: The vast majority of candidates for any higher office (state senator, governor, federal office) will all end up having the same impact on the economy as all of his or her competitors for that office. They will all have economic advisors that give them the same advice. All of their promises of progress, change, reform, etc… will get smoothed over by the system until it is absorbed into the existing economy. It is like pouring a bottle of expensive wine into a river or maybe a better analogy is to pour it into a sewer main. The main goal is to continue consumerism. Produce more, buy more, dispose of more, in order to create space for the newest replacement and keep up the demand for more.
Instead of focusing on a candidate’s shiny and bright economic promise of more, focus on the things that matter. Find out what the politician is like as a person. Does he or she have a reputation as trustworthy? Is the candidate a hard worker? Is the candidate a career politician or did he or she have life experiences that indicate he or she is an authentic person. Does the candidate have a strong faith or does he or she feel like any faith (or absence of faith) is just as true as any other? What does the candidate believe with regard to marriage and family? Does the candidate believe that he or she needs to follow the lead of the culture or does he or see believe that society needs leadership that doesn’t blow with the wind? Is the candidate pro-life because Nebraska is a pro-life state or does the candidate believe in life and have the ability to defend it? Does the candidate believe that the most important goal of our society is growth or does he or she believe we should look for a better way to happiness?
An economy built on growth and consumption is bound to fail. As we reach the end, all policy and regulation will be ordered toward reacting to problems and addressing symptoms. The end will justify the means so that things like truth and morality will mean nothing as long as some improvement can come out of the bad things we have to do to feed the obsession with production and consumption. The population will grow into a greater divide between those who have and those who have not. Those who are in the “have not” group will be regarded as tools and resources for the lucky ones who are in control of the power and wealth. The dignity of the human person will have no relevance to any of us.
The only way to see any beneficial change in our society including the political arena, is to focus first on the character, integrity and moral fiber of the candidates. Without these basic qualities, you are throwing your vote to the wind. If you can’t find a candidate that has strong basic qualities, urge better people to run or enter the race yourself.
If we start populating government with good people who have the character it takes to stand up to progressive bullies such as big business, lobbyists and irrational activists who want power, wealth and prestige at any cost, things will start to change. This is called leadership. Initially, the good leaders will be chewed up and spit out by the established progressives. But over time, with patience, diligence and determination, truth will prevail.
The truth is that we were not put on this earth to assure an infinite growth in the Gross National Product. Another truth is that the culture is not a good measure of what is best for the common good. The truth is that we can’t keep electing followers who latch on to the consumer economy and the culture in an effort to bolster their own job security. The truth is that big business, activists and lobbyists are able to control politicians who were elected solely on attractive economic policy. This is because such politicians often lack the character, integrity and courage it takes to stand for truth and in doing so, risk losing the campaign donations they need to win their next election.
Sounds unpleasant doesn’t it? It’s time to wake up and take control of a bad situation that is only going to get worse if we keep blowing with the wind. We need to put a little effort into the freedom that the heroes of our country purchased with their own sweat, blood and tears. Our heroes didn’t sacrifice their lives to ensure that we had luxury cars, designer clothes, pills to cure everything including pregnancy and an unrestricted right to shock others with our words and behaviors.
Take a few minutes of your time over the course of the next 6 months to figure out how to cast your vote for the best candidates. If you don’t vote or if you vote for candidates based on economics, you are the problem.