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August 21, 2011 - Ray Hall (Archive)
These are grim and trying times for millions of Americans. Even the most casual observer recognizes that we are living in perilous economic times, but equally distressing is our yearning for national leadership.

A nation with more than 300 million inhabitants finds itself without leaders. Business leaders have been shown to be weak and inept as evidenced by enormous hoards of cash sitting idle and unproductive in corporate safes and bank vaults. Gone are the trailblazers, the groundbreakers that built railroads and steel plants, innovators that created an industrial base with unlimited horizons. Those trendsetters have been replaced with short-sighted, media created blowhards and the conceited elite. And our political system fares no better.

Absent in our modern day political arena are giants that despite personal predilections for self gratification and power managed to propel those appetites into beneficial government programs and projects. It was those programs and projects that saved the world from the ravages of war, pulled the nation from the depths of depression and established a series of social measures that improved the lives of millions of Americans.

Today and all too often politicians and elected officials lack a sense of propriety, no shame. The elected, the wannabes and moguls with bags of money practice their chicanery with impunity and delight in the lie. They turn deceit into a medium of self-expression and employ the basest of divisive issues to fragment and splinter a populous given neither to investigation nor imagination.

Candidates and campaigns have been given to political sorcerers who purposely obfuscate issues and distribute fictitious press accounts to an all too eager national press corp. One need not look further than last week’s Iowa Straw Poll to illustrate that incestuous alliance that produces mutant offspring masquerading as presidential candidates.

The Iowa Straw Poll was created by that state’s Republican Party in 1979 as a fund-raising event. Party officials are straight-forward about the Poll’s purpose--it raises money for the state party--but a wayfarer needn’t look any further than that in the hope that truth will accumulate. If the press corp didn’t jump in bed with the Iowa Straw Poll, they willingly turned down the sheets so the rest of us could crawl in.

Saturday evening Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann was jubilantly declared the winner of that Straw Poll and was immediately booked as a guest on all five of the Sunday talk shows. But Congresswoman Bachmann didn’t win anything: She purchased 6000 tickets at $30.00 each and gave them to Republicans who came to Ames for a brief holiday. Although Republicans can choose from a dozen or more candidates many regulars remain unhappy with the slate. Republicans continue to look for a leader.

That’s why Governor Perry shot to the top of the Republican polls when he announced his candidacy on the same day Michelle Bachmann bought the Iowa Straw Poll. Now that the Governor has put both of his boot clad feet in his mouth Republican faithful are looking for someone else, a leader, Paul Ryan and Chris Christie are frequently talked about in Republican circles.

Republicans will eventually choose a candidate, odds are that it will be Romney and even though many will hold their breath at the notion of supporting the man who invented Obama Care they will, because they so dislike President Obama. But others are quick to point out that Democratic voters are not better off because of Republican angst.

Not too long ago Democrats and the Democratic Party proudly claimed ownership of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and were proud champions of workers rights, education, a progressive income tax and minimum wage standards. Today too many Democratic representatives are too easily intimidated by Republican opponents of programs that are essential for the advancement of a civilized and wholesome nation. And President Obama isn’t much help.

The President is all too willing to leave important issues to the Congress---to draw lines in the sand then walk back. President Obama is either ignorant of the legacy of FDR, or views it as irrelevant. He seems ashamed of the Democrats Big Three--Social Security--Medicare and Medicaid. It seems that he and other Democrats curl into a fetal position whenever Republicans attack them for supporting Medicaid, that dreaded WELFARE program for the “lazy and undeserving,” that program that most Republicans want to kill. Never mind that most Medicaid dollars (more than 60% in most states) is spent on senior citizens in nursing homes.

At least Republicans have a choice of candidates--not a good choice, but a choice. Democratic voters don’t have choice. This time around Democrats don’t have a Eugene McCarthy who challenged a sitting President and convinced Lyndon Johnson not to seek reelection.

For better or worse President Obama will have the votes from his core supporters, because for progressives and other Democrats the Republicans, regardless of who they choose, have nothing to offer. Although the President’s base has no where to go in 2012, there is increasing chatter even among the faithful that Hillary Clinton would have been the better leader.


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