Saturday, November 8, 2014

The One-Eyed Man

There is an old saying about “holding your nose” when you vote because all of the candidates stink. That’s pretty much my take on this week’s elections. While I am happy with the outcome, I really see it as the lesser of two evils. I hope that our leaders can get some things done, but I don’t expect it. Campaigning for 2016 has already begun and the focus of these career politicians is always on the next election. Doing their jobs is of secondary importance.

What I find most interesting is that the Number One objective for the two parties is to just find something they can agree on. It’s like a couple in a bad marriage who agree to stay together for the sake of the kids. It may be the best option at the moment, but in the long-run it seldom works out well for the couple or the kids. So our leaders point to immigration reform and rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure as two issues where they might be able to find common ground. Don’t count on it. Almost immediately the conversation on immigration has become contentious. The Republicans can’t give up too much ground without alienating the far right and the Democrats must hang on to the Hispanic vote. Any compromise weakens both parties. Hopefully, repairing and upgrading the nation’s infrastructure might get some traction if it does not get linked to other issues such as Obamacare.

The one area where I expect a lot of agreement will be National Security. Both parties know that they must look strong against Islamic extremism and Russian expansionism. While I don’t expect them to agree on how to handle either issue, I do expect them to do a lot of talking and spend a lot of money. That’s what politicians do. And neither party wants to go into 2016 looking soft.

The sad truth is that the biggest threat to our National Security has not changed and is not likely to change. That would be our Debt Crisis. We have reached unsustainable levels of debt and it is unlikely that we can grow our way out of the problem. Reducing debt by aggressive spending cuts would hurt the economy in the short run and certainly have a negative impact on certain groups of voters. Then there are the special interests and their lobbyists who have paid for protection. No politician is going to kill their golden goose. I doubt that any of the conservatives who rail about government spending would cut much of it if they actually were empowered to do so. So we’ll keep printing money and whistling in the dark until our money isn’t worth much. Our only saving grace may be that the rest of the world is more screwed up than we are.

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king” - Erasmus

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