Monday, November 5, 2012


We always risk making our leaders into blank canvases on which we paint our hopes. As the presidential race nears its end, I hope and I believe Barack Obama will be re-elected.

Humans have a neural reset which prevents us from feeling pain after the source of that pain has been withdrawn. The alternative would be unbearable. Emotionally, we heal from loss even though we remember, with sadness sometimes, or diminishing bitterness other times, the source of our emotional pain. Truly, time heals all wounds. And so, here we are today, some of us have turned against Obama because he didn't clean up all the mess left behind by the previous administration. Have we forgotten how close to total collapse the American, and probably the world, economy were when President Obama took office? Seven hundred thousand jobs were disappearing each month when he came into office. Today we have experienced 32 months of positive job growth. But the pain of the initial collapse of the economy is a distant memory for many of us, although painfully present for many more. It's like the house was on fire, now the panic is gone, but the formidable cleanup goes on and on. Perhaps, some of us confuse our impatience for his failure.

His progress has been stymied by the likes of the odious Mitch McConnell, Kentucky's senior senator, who famously said his number one objective was to insure that president Obama is kneecapped and made a one-term president. Forget the suffering of millions of Americans as you plot filibuster after filibuster, Senator, just ensure that your political position is protected and your paymasters are rewarded for their investments in you.  

A retelling of the saga of how we got to where we are is not necessary. People have made up their minds by now. This election is in the books now, even though we have yet to get to the final page.

Instead, let's look at the blank canvas of 2012-2016.

President Obama will have in his second term an opportunity-rich environment. I hope he uses this canvas to paint a picture of America where money is not seen as speech, so we can wring the corrupting influence of money and lobbyists from our system. Then we might end the ridiculous spectacle of politicians grubbing for donations like so many hogs in a pen.

I'd like to see an America where the constitution clearly defines that a person is a person, and a corporation is a legal arrangement filed in a courthouse in Delaware. The absurd fiction that corporations are people ignores the slight advantage corporations have over humans--immortality.  Unless we rein in this superiority of corporations over humans we risk undermining democracy. In the future we could see cabinet level positions for Coca Cola or Halliburton, oh that's right, we already had Halliburton in the government.

The President, in his second term, can work toward a sustainable economy where the health of the environment is not traded for trinkets in the marketplace. He can look toward
"green jobs" as the truest stimulus package, one in which we honestly assess the terrible, eroded, shameful, condition of our infrastructure and put American citizens to work in American factories and firms to rebuild American cities, roads, rails, bridges, sewer systems, electric grids, water pipe networks, parks, schools, and the list goes on and on. And, when we finish bringing these elements of the commons back up to reasonable standards we'll find that such a pursuit is the gift that keeps on giving, because we'll have to start all over again and continue the maintenance, but that will be for a later generation of Americans. As the old saw goes, there's no such thing as a free lunch. The miracle of the Reagan Revolution is that so many people willingly let others eat our lunch, whether outsourcing corporations, blind-eye environmental regulators, or people in the present eating the lunch of future generations. It's time to realize we get nothing for nothing. The rich have taken a tax holiday and now it's over.

In his second term the President can broaden and refine The Affordable Care Act. The best refinement would be to allow all citizens to buy into Medicare as it competes on a level playing field with commercially-offered health plans.

I hope the President's second term is a period of peace and international cooperation.

He only has four years to paint this canvas. If he paints thoughtfully, and with concern for the future of the planet, he can go down in history as a great practitioner of the art of politics.   

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