Our nation needs another mission. I have one. Direct all our resources into one fountain-of-youth opportunity. Then, take 25 years off George H.W. Bush and install him as president until he straightens things out.
The elder Bush, pragmatically unlike his presidential son, was perhaps the last of a dying breed — a straight-talking realist who, when faced with a difficult choice, most often acted in a way that was best for the country and not necessarily for his political legacy.
“No new taxes.”
How about: “I understand what has to be done. Do it.”
Bush’s realism would have no place in the national Republican Party of today. Even another nationally prominent Repubican who often governed with a dose of populism, Mike Huckabee, seems compelled to make himself sound in lock-step with the most extreme in the party.
Analyzing the depth and breadth of modern day conservatism is a simple exercise in listening and reading. Of course, the ability to recognize obvious contradictions is helpful. At any rate, this isn’t a difficult subject:
• Poor people need to pay more taxes. “Rich people” should pay less. “Middle-income people” (i.e. anyone who looks for a particular brand of bacon and doesn’t automatically look at the pricing) believe they are in the latter. They’re not. Blissful, this isn’t.
• Health insurance for everyone is evil, and health care for poor kids and old people is nearly as evil. Speaking, of course, about “Obamacare” (which was “Romneycare” before anyone outside of Massachusetts knew who Mitt Romney was) and Medicaid. How anyone can pull a lever to cut health care services for poor kids and old people will forever remain a mystery.
• Someone has taken America, and it’s our duty to “take it back.” Who we’re taking it back from is unclear. Odd that we suddenly need to take back our country after a national vote put the first non-“white” man in the Oval Office. This, surely, is a coincidence.
There is more, to be sure. Defense spending must go up, up, up. Deficit spending, just fine a few years ago, is treasonous now. Abortion — well, let’s not even get into that quagmire.
Even scarier than the ideological homogenousness of today’s GOP is the possibility, call it a hunch or a feeling, that at some point in our future we will see a losing side simply not accept the results of a presidential election. Doesn’t it seem like we’re working our way toward that sort of unbelievable reaction?
What if that time comes a week from now? Another four years of President Obama in the White House might push a significant number of people over the line. We could see a radical, albeit unlikely to get anywhere, attempt at a rebellion. Or worse. Who knows what might spring from our own extremists?
Interestingly, in the final days before the national vote, Hurricane Sandy stands to impact the election perhaps in ways that issues haven’t. If the federal government’s resources actually respond in a foreceful, timely and effective manner, many residents along the East Coast might think favorably about the guy in charge of it all. It’s unfortunate for Obama that most of the impacted states were in his column already.
Alas, George H.W. Bush won’t be on next week’s ballot. These United States could use his moderation today. We are left with, really, only two options. Americans will choose one or the other, and the result may or may not change our nation going forward. It may be that good comes from this election. It’s not likely, though, that we will see any improvement in the fractious environment we have.
Even the elder Bush couldn’t pull off that miracle.
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Rick Fahr is an independent journalist in Arkansas who most recently was editor and publisher of the Log Cabin Democrat in Conway. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.