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Questions for the Undecided Voter

A few weeks ago, I wrote to those people who can recite the winners of the last 117 seasons of American Idol, but can’t name their elected representatives. But there is another type of undecided voter … people for whom the major limitation is that of time. Between work, taking children to and from athletic events and practices, and the frenzied pace of simply maintaining a functioning household where food is prepared, laundry is done, and the place is kept up, there is precious little time left to absorb and consider the endless barrage of news events. Both the Democratic and Republican conventions experienced a decline in viewership because, in my opinion, everyone knew how they would end. Each party concluded that their nominee was the best thing to come down the pike since the double decker peanut butter and jelly sandwich, the truth of the matter notwithstanding (because there is precious little in life better than a double decker peanut butter and jelly sandwich). So why bother watching? Besides which, a politician’s promise is made of the same stuff as the tooth fairy and just as reliable, right?  

But now that viewership of the debates is increasing, and people are starting to seriously consider their options, it’s time to decide not only who to vote for, but to evaluate the criteria for making that decision. Is it reasonable, for example, to expect our public servants to exercise their official duties according to the same values as the people they represent?   

If we as parents decline to send our child next door to knock little Johnny off his bicycle and take it, ought we to hire politicians to send the IRS to knock Johnny’s dad off his 401K and hand us the loot? If we are to take seriously the Biblical prohibition against covetousness or theft, are we absolved by hiring a middle man? Why should we expect less of our elected representatives than we expect of ourselves and our children?  

Do we develop in our children those mental, emotional, and physical qualities that will equip them to provide for themselves and their loved ones, or do we teach them to depend on strangers for their wellbeing? Here I pause to note that data from the Social Security Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Agriculture shows that the total number of people employed in the US has declined by .7 percent in the last four years, while during that same time frame the number of people on food stamps has increased 65.2 percent. Is it reasonable to reject those politicians and policies who increase public dependence even as we would reject those ideas that would increase our own children’s dependence?  Why would such values as are good and proper for our children be thought wrong and improper for our nation?  

When approved for a mortgage, would you forge your child’s signature on the loan to relieve yourself of responsibility? Would you open up multiple lines of credit under your child’s name, using funds from one credit account to pay for the other knowing that one day your offspring will grow up to a big, fat debt that they didn’t cause, but are responsible for nonetheless?  That’s what your government has done by running up $16,000,000,000,000 in debt for which you and everyone in your home is individually responsible for to the tune of $142,000 per person.  And President Obama continues to  overspend by $1,000,000,000,000 annually.  Would you run your home’s finances this way?  

By the way, do you lock your doors at night? Or do you prefer to leave the doors open to welcome any “undocumented residents” that may feel inclined to walk in and help themselves to your food, your furniture, your electronics and other belongings? Assuming you prefer to secure your property, is it too much to expect your local government, supported by your tax dollars, to enforce laws against trespassing? How would you react if your local government not only declined to enforce the law, but prohibited you from locking your doors? Because of course, that’s exactly what the Obama Administration did with regard to Arizona’s efforts to secure its border with Mexico after the feds refused to enforce federal immigration laws. At a time when terrorists plot attacks on American soil, why is it unreasonable to expect the federal government to be at least as vigilant in securing our borders as we are in securing our property?  

And how would you feel if your yard were suddenly full of protesters who wanted some of the goodies from your home? What if they “occupied” your lawn with the encouragement of local officials? Clint Eastwood can’t be everywhere, after all. What sort of reception would you be inclined to give the mayor if he showed up with a teleprompter and announced that you didn’t build your home? Would your gratitude be such that you’d vote to re-elect the guy and agree to his plan to raise your taxes in exchange for even less protection?  

For that matter, if your neighborhood were to become the object of violent intentions from various gangs, would you applaud your mayor for responding by reducing the police force and opening negotiations with the gangs? If a neighbor, however unadvisedly, posted a sign in his yard saying unpleasant things about the criminal element that was threatening the area, would you prefer the neighbor’s arrest over the defeat of the criminals? On September 11th, four Americans, including our Ambassador, were killed in a coordinated terrorist attack and the Obama Administration’s response thus far has been to denounce and arrest an American citizen who made a film that insults the ostensibly peaceful religion of Islam. Oh yes, and after denouncing the American citizen, the President went straight away to a fund raising event in Las Vegas. Feeling safe yet?  

On a more fundamental level, is the nature of your relationship with your children such that they exist for your benefit? Well, that doesn’t quite ring true to the parental ear, does it? But extrapolate it out another layer and ask whether you exist for the benefit and support of the government? Because when politicians count your after-tax income as a “tax expenditure,” as President Obama has done repeatedly, what they are saying is that the portion of your earnings that you get to keep is actually costing them just as surely as if it had come from Treasury accounts. In other words, your earnings belong to them first, and they will let you keep only as much as they can afford for you to have. Your work, your time, it all belongs to the state, and of course, if the government owns your earnings, it owns you as well and your freedom has gone the way of the Dodo.

The crucial question therefore is whether the citizen exists for the purposes of the government, or whether the government exists to protect the life and liberty of the citizen. Who is the servant and who the master? For that matter, does the private sector exist to fund the state and its experiments on individual sovereignty? If so, then Barack Obama, and his fundamental transformation of America from a country based on limited Constitutional government to a country where a central authority manages the individual, and where you and your family exist to support the state, is your ticket. But if you believe that it is you who employs the government, not the other way around; if you believe that in America it’s the people who are sovereign; if you believe in an America where the values we teach our children apply to our politicians as well; and if you believe that the greatest country on earth doesn’t need fundamental transformation, but rather restoration to the principles that made it great in the first place, then I’d like to interest you in a bracing alternative: Send Barack Obama and his party packing, evict them from the White House as well as the House of Representatives and the Senate, and elect instead Mitt Romney and other Republicans who not only cite the Constitution, but vow to respect the limits it places on government. Then stay vigilant and keep them honest. Your children and grandchildren are counting on you.  

(image from newyorker.com)

  1. liberal jim

    The only problem with your argument is that the last time the GOP was in control they at best paid lip service to the limited government concept.   Granted Romney is the lesser of two evils, but I have come to the conclusion that neither party will reduce the size and scope of government and that eventually the market will.   If Republicans are in charge when the crisis comes, conservatives, even though they make up only a minority of the party, will be blamed.   I don’t think Romney’s talk of bipartisanship is merely an election ploy and finding common ground with the current Democratic party means more government.   I know Reagan was able to do it, but if you think this is the Democratic party of the 80′s you should not be driving a car let alone an 18 wheeler.

  2. Dave Carter
    C
    liberal jim: The only problem with your argument is that the last time the GOP was in control they at best paid lip service to the limited government concept.   Granted Romney is the lesser of two evils, but I have come to the conclusion that neither party will reduce the size and scope of government and that eventually the market will.   If Republicans are in charge when the crisis comes, conservatives, even though they make up only a minority of the party, will be blamed.   I don’t think Romney’s talk of bipartisanship is merely an election ploy and finding common ground with the current Democratic party means more government.   I know Reagan was able to do it, but if you think this is the Democratic party of the 80′s you should not be driving a car let alone an 18 wheeler. · 0 minutes ago

    Second to last sentence: “Then stay vigilant and keep them honest.”  Is there an alternative?  Even 18 wheeler drivers have to deal with the road as it exists.

  3. Mel Foil

    If your husband or wife is blatantly lying to you, day after day, then they’re doing something worse to you too. You just don’t know it yet. Does it work any differently with US Presidents? I don’t think so. We KNOW Obama is lying to us about very important things. That’s a firing offense. It’s time for a new face. Does the new face have to be perfect? No.

  4. DocJay

    If our economic crisis is not enough to get the politicians to aggressively address our issues then I hope to line them all up on crosses like the Appian Way.   

    The GOP were indeed idiots in the first part of the Bush administration regarding fiscal policy.   There’s a new group with a new attitude.   They will rise to prominence and lead this fight.   At least they acknowledge the issue which is more than I can say for the democrats.

  5. DocJay
    Mel Foil: If your husband or wife is blatantly lying to you, day after day, then they’re doing something worse to you too. You just don’t know it yet. Does it work any differently with US Presidents? I don’t think so. We KNOW Obama is lying to us about very important things. That’s a firing offense. It’s time for a new face. Does the new face have to be perfect? No. · 8 minutes ago

    Blatantly lying is right.   I am sick of that man and his goons.

  6. Mel Foil

    We need to vote for Romney just for the sake of the mainstream press. They need to remember how to be skeptical of presidents. After three and a half years, they’re pretty rusty.

  7. Red Feline

    Dave: I like your very pragmatic, down-to-earth analysis of what is happening in the political world today. I wish it could have wider exposure so that ordinary people could see it. I have found that very few people know anything about the theories of political science or economics, but would find it easier to understand what you have just said so well.

    I’ve tweeted and facebooked your article. 

  8. Lucy Pevensie

    Wonderful, Dave.  Just wonderful. Thanks.

  9. Devereaux
    Dave Carter

    Second to last sentence: “Then stay vigilant and keep them honest.” Is there an alternative?  Even 18 wheeler drivers have to deal with the road as it exists. · 1 hour ago

    Edited 1 hour ago

    It’s your current last sentence that it the problem – the road as it exists. I realize that things can’t be changed radically overnight. Still, I am not convinced that we have won the terms of the debate. We fight at the fringes, but leave the core untouched. At least with the terms of the debate we need to start damaging that core.

    Your analysis only points out that we have come to depend on so many things that are out of our control. In the process, we have become, to a greater or lessor degree, afraid of life itself. Everything scares us. We are unwilling, in large part, to even take responsibility for our own safety, leaving it to the “professionals” – the LEO’s. Hardly a comforting thought to my mind.

    It’s OK to thump this son of a lizard bunch, but much more important is to start openly defying the accepted “norms” that we have had foised upon us.

  10. Misthiocracy
    Dave Carter

    A few weeks ago, I wrote to those people who can recite the winners of the last 117 seasons ofAmerican Idol, but can’t name their elected representatives. But there is another type of undecided voter … people for whom the major limitation is that of time…

    Are we talking about undecided voters, or unlikely voters.

    If we’re talking about people who are likely to vote, and yet they still don’t take the time to inform themselves about the parties, the candidates, the platforms, and indeed the very workings of the systems of government for which they are registering their preference, then we do indeed have a problem.

    If, on the other hand, we’re merely talking about people who are unlikely to vote, then I don’t see the problem.

    They are simply applying Rational Ignorance. They have made the perfectly rational decision to spend their times learning about things other than politics, and have made the rational decision to delegate the responsibility of voting to others.

    If they aren’t going to vote, why should I care if they can’t name their representatives?

  11. Paul-FB

    Well said Dave.  Now if only there was some way for all voters to address your thoughts and questions, then I’m sure the change “We” need on Nov. 6th  would lead to a smashing landslide for Mitt Romney, and, for the Good Old U.S.A.  And as concerned citizens, “We” need to keep the new administration’s feet to the fire, so to speak. 

  12. Lavaux

    I dig your pitch, but if folks are too busy to watch a thirty minute news broadcast, then they’re too busy to read your screed. So what’s needed is a tutorial on efficient information gathering and analysis distributable to millions of Americans.

    Even if this were possible, which I doubt, I was noodling today over one of the less remarked benefits of intelligence, namely, that the opportunity cost of acquiring new information is minimal. A really smart guy can sit down with just about any text book and start reading it to acquire the knowledge therein whereas duller people will need a teacher, a tutor and perhaps some supplementary materials.

    So it goes with politics, which is why I fear the Ryan-Biden debate may not go our way. Ryan is smarter than most of us and can talk way over our heads whereas Biden is just as smart as us and has learned to compensate for it by becoming skilled at relating to us on our level. It’s going to very frustrating for Ryan to try fighting Biden’s smarm and charm with facts and reason, and Biden knows this. So cross your fingers and pray.

  13. Sweezle

    First we elect Romney-Biden then we “stay vigilant and keep them honest.” I am completely up for that.

  14. Dave Carter
    C
    Lucy Pevensie: Wonderful, Dave.  Just wonderful. Thanks. · 6 hours ago

    You’re welcome!!  Remember, you asked me to take another swing at this, and I couldn’t say no.  

  15. Dave Carter
    C
    Devereaux  It’s your current last sentence that it the problem – the road as it exists. I realize that things can’t be changed radically overnight. Still, I am not convinced that we have won the terms of the debate. …

    Your analysis only points out that we have come to depend on so many things that are out of our control. In the process, we have become, to a greater or lessor degree, afraid of life itself.Everything scares us. …

    The sentence you reference was my attempt to use a comment that Liberal Jim made to underscore that we have two alternatives in November; Romney or Obama.  While I agree that we haven’t won the terms of the debate yet, our options in November are set.  Either one or the other of these men will be president.   My analysis points to the fact that what is in our control is which one of these options we will choose.  Assuming we get it right, the real work has just begun.  The election will seem like a walk in the park compared to the vigilance and hard work of holding our leaders’ feet to the fire.  

  16. Devereaux
    Dave Carter

    Devereaux  It’s your current last sentence that it the problem – the road as it exists. I realize that things can’t be changed radically overnight. Still, I am not convinced that we have won the terms of the debate. …

    The sentence you reference was my attempt to use a comment that Liberal Jim made to underscore that we have two alternatives in November; Romney or Obama.  While I agree that we haven’t won the terms of the debate yet, our options in November are set.  …  Assuming we get it right, the real work has just begun.  The election will seem like a walk in the park compared to the vigilance and hard work of holding our leaders’ feet to the fire.   · 49 minutes ago

    I don’t deny what you are saying – we have a clear choice before us. What bothers me is that we don’t seem to be aggressively enough attacking the terms of debate – as we go.

    ?Are you confident we have the strength and courage to assault their positions, so carefully crafted and defended lo these many years. They are false – yet formidable because they HAVE controlled the TOD so long.

  17. Dave Carter
    C
    Devereaux

    Dave Carter

    Devereaux  It’s your current last sentence that it the problem – the road as it exists. I realize that things can’t be changed radically overnight. Still, I am not convinced that we have won the terms of the debate. …

     …While I agree that we haven’t won the terms of the debate yet, our options in November are set.  …  Assuming we get it right, the real work has just begun. .. .   

    I don’t deny what you are saying – we have a clear choice before us. What bothers me is that we don’t seem to be aggressively enough attacking the terms of debate – as we go.

    ?Are you confident we have the strength and courage to assault their positions, so carefully crafted and defended lo these many years. They are false – yet formidable because they HAVE controlled the TOD so long. · 18 minutes ago

    Seems to me we don’t have a choice but to exercise the strength and courage necessary.  And if our politicians don’t, we drag them with us and/or find new politicians who do.  

    Off topic, but I like your avatar.  My first duty assignment was with those planes.  

  18. Fake John Galt

    I know a few undecided voters.  They spend most their life getting by.  They worry about how to make ends meet. They worry about keeping their job.  About keeping what little they have.  They voted for Obama because he gave them hope, he promised change and they hoped things would get better for them.  Now they doubt Obama but are scared to vote for Romney and the Republicans.  They are being overwhelmed with news on how Romney and friends are going to take what little they have and give it to the 1%.  How Romney is going to stop them from getting what they have coming to them.  How Romney is going to make their life harder.  How the Republicans are stopping Obama from helping them.  Unless Romney can overcome the media’s narrative he will never get elected.

  19. Diane Ellis
    C

    I agree with Lucy — great post!

  20. Dave Carter
    C
    Diane Ellis, Ed.: I agree with Lucy — great post! · 15 minutes ago

    Thank you, Diane.  I thought I’d try a second time at bat, so to speak.  

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