Time will tell whether I’m right about this, but I have watched years of televised talking heads, and none of them have an accuracy record that exceeds my own, so I feel completely qualified to offer my Republican friends a little advice. Heres the thing, guys. Your Party is experiencing what the Democrats went through a decade ago. Now, I don’t mean in quite the same way, since, as you know, even if you remove the shenanigans in Florida from the debate, the 2000 election was nowhere near a mandate. We are talking about a mere handful of votes. By contrast, November 2008 was your Little Big Horn. I mean, I only received 173 less electoral votes than McCain, and I didn’t even run. So, when you take a beating like that, its perfectly normal, (and human, I might add) to be a little disoriented. Its perfectly normal to shake up the leadership, point some fingers and if you must, lop off a few heads, though, ideally, a loss and all it brings can be handled with class and dignity, much like a win should. Then, its time to take honest inventory. There is a growing segment of voters, (myself among them) that though we identify strongly with one Party over the other, consider ourselves independent voters. What I mean by that if we are faced with two awesome candidates, or two abysmal candidates, a tie goes to the home team. But you can bet if a candidate with an (R) after his or her name has fresh ideas and a clearer goal, he or she might get my vote.
Chances are, you’ve figured out that your base is shrinking, and ours is probably growing. That should concern you. I believe, then, that your best and only chance to de-throne the Democrats will be to attract independents, or perhaps more truthfully, attract thoughtful Democrats and Libertarians who already lean slightly to the right. The Libertarians know, deep down in their Galt-like souls, that they are generations away from being a viable political party. At best, they will be spoilers, more often than not costing you guys votes in key States.
So, lets see where you might get my attention…
Taxes. I am happy to pay a reasonable tax, on my income, on my investments, on my purchases,and on my home and property. I’m not afraid of Govt, but I expect it to work as well as any decent for profit organization. When I need to register a car or renew a license, I want the person across that counter to treat me as a valuable customer. Better Govt will mean less Govt. Now, the key word here is reasonable, and we could have a lively debate over what constitutes reasonable, as well as where to direct taxes once collected. We both want professionalism in the ranks of our police, firefighters, teachers, food inspectors, in fact, pretty much in every Govt official with whom we interact. I don’t see much argument there. We have to start the conversation with the understanding that taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society.
With any luck, America will begin to shed it’s image as a wasteful, bloated, pampered country, mainly, I think, because our new economic model will force it on us. Our kids may begin to walk to school again. Young adults may forgo college and pursue a trade, hopefully one that harnesses free energy, like wind and solar. Those that choose college may opt to become engineers or chemists, instead of lawyers and bean counters. (I lump all business degrees in with the bean counters, since they always end up listening to them anyway) We are resourceful people when challenged, I have no fear that America will forget how to conduct business, I just don’t think we necessarily have to rule the entire planet. So, in this new economy, there may be less emphasis on disproportionately rewarding those at the top, and more value placed on those that actually perform the work. Our system should reward risk-takers, since without them, we’d have less innovation, less competition, and less jobs. Buts lets at least stop pretending that all risk takers are the same. An example: When I started my last business, I did so on a shoestring budget. There were months I couldn’t pay the State the sales tax I collected, because I couldn’t make payroll if I had. I know what it is like to wake up in a cold sweat because your life savings is on the line, as well as the livelihood of a dozen or more people. I didn’t have a staff that could “run the numbers” for me. I didn’t have an in-house attorney to pour over contracts. No one lobbied on my behalf. Do you really think McDonalds assumes much risk before opening a new location? Before the first Chicken McDropping is portioned, fried, packaged and served, they have done the research. They know the demographics. They know how long before they become profitable. They may have even received a tax break from a county trying to lure them to come. They can buy products at a price I cannot so right off the bat they have an edge in pricing. I can’t ever remember seeing a McDonalds close a location, and if they did, the chances are good that even the remote possibility of failure was factored in, and deemed acceptable. Theres risk, and there is risk. Our tax policy should acknowledge that.
I have a modest home. I spend money on it to keep it in good working order, because my children may have to live here when I am gone. If they have to pay a small estate tax to do so, so be it, it means I passed on some real wealth to my heirs. They will want good police, fire, and schools as well for their children. As i get older, and my income drops or goes away completely, I’d like to know that i will not be taxed off of my property. Here, i think, as well as in the income or investment tax debate, it may well be time to establish a baseline. Some figure, arbritrary at first, then adjusted to suit, that defines wealth. I see no other way. Forget the flat-tax. 15 percent of 25,000 dollars a year is an undue burden on a young family, struggling to raise the children that will make up our next workforce. 15 percent of 100k is a bite, but a manageable one. 15 percent of a million bucks a year is barely noticeable. 15 percent of 100 million is a crime against the rest of the world.
We can find common ground on this issue, but screaming about the top 1 percent paying 50% of the taxes isn’t working for you. Tell you what. Ask 100, hell, ask a thousand Americans that if they could make 500k a year, clear after taxes, would they do it even if they had “earned” one million. I’d take that gig and not look back.
The Military. Lets, as the kids say, keep it real for a minute, shall we? Is there a country on Earth that could recruit, train, arm, and mobilize the number of troops it would take to invade America? All of the real estate in the entire world has already been claimed. No, future wars won’t conventional, I think we are quite possibly fighting the last war that involves massive airlifts and portable infrastructure. Most of us lilly-livered liberals think that we could have fought Al Queda much more effectively by unleashing the Arab equivalent of 2000 Jason Bournes. To paraphrase C.J. Craig, a fictional White House Staff member on the West Wing, taking out terrorists will be a job for a well-placed busboy with a silencer, not the 82nd Airborne. Long ago, we should have had assets in place. It may have been unwise to dismiss the few intelligence gatherers we had that spoke Arabic or Farsi simply because they preferred to form relationships with people of the same sex, huh? Had we started 25 years ago, we could have people in places that could buy us proximity to those that mean us harm, and I mean damn cheap.
No one wants to admit that many wind up in uniform not out of a strong sense of patriotism, but simply because they lack other options. Of course, not all are there for financial reasons, but its ridiculous to say that every service member deployed overseas is there because they wanted to be. They took a gamble, and its a courageous gamble to make, sure, but they rolled snake-eyes and they know it. It beats the hell out of conscription, to be sure, but the chance of being blown to bits by a roadside bomb is a steep price to pay for tuition assistance, or, for some, three hots and a cot. Prolonged deployment without clear objectives, like say, stopping the Germans from marching across Europe, or, defending the homeland from Japanese bombers, leads to morale problems and opens the door for resentment. Not to mention what is does for recruitment down the line a few years. Let these guys and gals come home without adequate medical care that includes counseling and you will have some of them snap, and most likely their pent up rage will be directed at those closest to them. They will need jobs to come home to, or training for jobs, or some of them will indeed be ripe for the pickin by those that seek to do violence and need hired guns. The camaraderie experienced by soldiers is a tale often told, and for good reason. Not much in civilian life matches it. The chance to belong to a unit again can be a strong pull for some lacking other options. That unit can be the other 300 million or so residing here if we spend the time and the money to honor their sacrifice on our behalf. Parades and yellow magnets won’t cut it.
We will need a strong military. I’m happy to pay for that. Show me a blueprint for a military that can respond to a crisis a half world away, and do so while adhering to world-wide standards of professionalism, and I’ll gladly pony up. Send me a bill for acquiring a fleet of outdated aircraft and you can forget about talking to me about wasteful education spending. Nobody wants us to be unduly vulnerable. Acknowledge that terrible waste exists in the procurement process, and weed out those that feel a military contract is a license to steal, and you will go a long way to securing my trust, and maybe my vote.
I just realized how long this post is…ha. Well, there are many other issues we should be talking about, like the environment, and many others that we shouldn’t be talking about, like, gay marriage, but the two outlined above seem like a great place to get started….