Obama, McCain, and Gingrich all call for change

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September 13, 2008

       Change is in the air. Sen. Barack Obama used the word from the very beginning of his campaign for the presidency. His book Audacity to Hope is full of a hopeful vision for change in America. He proclaimed his vision for change in his acceptance speech at the Democratic Convention.

       Sen. John McCain in touting his self image of maverick also has used the word change and reform in his campaign for President,  setting him at odds with President Bush. His choice of Alaska Gove. Sarah Palin as  his Vice President is an attempt to further supports his maverick status. In fact one might say the Grand Old Party died  the first week of September and the Maverick Party was formed.

       In the meantime Newt Gingrich published a book called Real Change, calling for radical changes in the way our government operates. Early in the book he writes about Democrats and Republicans. He characterizes Democratic leaders as “ambitious people … fascinated by the process of accumulating power … “and then using it for their own ideological purposes and to strengthen their allies and their institutional supporters.” He then describes republican leaders as professionals and business executives who “often have little interest in or knowledge of politics” and have “remarkably little understanding of how government works”. Gingrich’s purpose is to offset that lack of political savvy.

       Despite the partisanship in his book Gingrich has some very good points in his book that we all should work to make real change happen in this country.  According to Gingrich, these involve … a common sense approach to problems based on facts. Education must include pride in our country, he wrote. Fifty percent high school graduation is unacceptable. Immigration must be encouraged to fill the needs of jobs being created in this country. Crime can be diminished by meeting it head on like Mayor Rudy Guiliani did in New York.  Prison reform must include rehabilitation of prisoners so they can be productive citizens upon release.

       I think a lot of people would agree with the statements above. Unfortunately he dismisses real solutions to real problems because of his partisan approach. Gingrich makes the claim over and over again that the problem with our country can be reduced to one or more of the folloing: the elite Democrats who are running our country, the self-serving and closed purposes of the labor unions, government bureaucrats, or too high taxes. His solutions then involve new leadership to replace the elitists, eliminate unions, fire the bureaucrats, and lower if not eliminiate taxes which keep both individuals and business from making and spending their money the way they see fit. By allowing for an unfettered free market all our problems will be solved. People will have work and money to do what they want according to Gingrich.

       With even a casual observance of the capitalist economic system we enjoy it is obvious that a totally free market would wreak havoc in the lives of people. Even with the moderate regulations we have in place, we experienced the Savings and Loan melt down in the 1980’s, the false profits of dot com companies, the blatant fraud of Enron and the collapse of the mortgage industry creating the worst housing crisis since the Great Ddepression. .  The collusion of the auto industry with oil companies is resulting in the slow death of great American automakers and the outcry of hobbled travel by ordinary people because of high prices at the gas pumps.

       Yes, real change is needed in this country. The first change is for all of us to recognize that we have a stake in the way we live in this country, that every action each of us makes has an impact on others, and that our surest hope of survival as a free country is active participation in the political process. This means becoming aware of issues and voting accordingly in every local, state, and national election. The national election looming before us is the most critical of my lifetime. We all must heed the call to political involvement by at least voting on November 4. The usual 60% voter turnout in Presidential elections is unacceptable in the greatest democracy in the world.