Barack Obama & John McCain

About four years ago the New Yorker Magazine endorsed a Presidential candidate for the first time in its then eighty year history. One should not doubt who they chose, John Kerry, someone who I also voted for. In their most recent issue, a bursting “theme issue” tome of erudite and addictive political commentary, the New Yorker has done it again, endorsing Barack Obama. So should Obama be the next President of the United States?

And should EcoWorld be a platform to make an endorsement, anyway? Perhaps, since we do have a rather clear editorial position when it comes to what we consider agreeable environmentalist ideology – read Rational Environmentalism. EcoWorld, a publication examining environmental issues and green technology from a free-market perspective clearly has as much reason to finally take an editorial position on a U.S. Presidential election as the New Yorker, a culture magazine. And similarly to the global warming debate that is “over,” there are issues surrounding Obama vs. McCain that are inexplicably off the table – indeed too many issues where they alarmingly seem to totally agree.

It would be less than human to not love the way Obama gives us reason to feel we can be a better people, but this must not be a reason to ignore or excuse his ideology. For him to say it is time to “spread the wealth around” sounds like it is time to stop rewarding merit. It sounds like if we work hard, work smart, and play by the rules, it doesn’t matter. Governments should enforce rules to encourage economic competition in a meritocracy, not “spread the wealth around.” And the liberal penchant for teaching virtually everyone that they are the victims of discrimination and are disadvantaged and oppressed, in a country like the United States, is pure nonsense and often merely a ploy to raise taxes and create government jobs. Everyone cares about poor people, or disadvantaged people, but hard work, property ownership and economic growth will make everyone better off. Obama’s base tends to dismiss the importance of markets and profits, and instead prefers government redistribution to correct injustices.

Liberalism, all of it, the ideological base that sustains Obama, breeds corruption at least as powerful and pervasive as conservative or free-market ideologies. But the fallacies of liberalism are more easily rendered invisible to normal, well-intentioned people, because they are obscured by rhetoric so compassionate, so righteously indignant, so protective of the disadvantaged, so caring, that only a hardened cynic would attempt to diminish or deter their agenda, despite its possible flaws. Policy discussion is distorted by wars of words where liberal ideology wields an intrinsic advantage, since they are always ready to do whatever it takes, whatever it costs, whenever it sounds good, regardless of price or unintended consequences.

With the final debates over and less than three weeks before the election, much has been recently reported about “Joe Plumber,” the man who questioned Obama’s proposal to increase taxes on incomes over $250,000 per year. You can work hard and get a leg up, but the tax collectors want extra levies as soon as you cross some progressive line. Progressive taxes, especially when they are severely tiered, undermine upward mobility, they undermine incentive.

Along with Joe the Plumber, out west we have Randy the Programmer and his family. They live in California’s Silicon Valley. Both of the spouse had full time jobs. He had a job with benefits for 15 years, and lost it about five months ago. She had a job with benefits for 8 years, and lost it last week. They played by the rules. They didn’t borrow against their home equity, or buy 6,000 lb. SUVs, or take regular vacations. They worked all the time and when they weren’t working they spent time raising their little girl. But if home prices plummet to levels lower than they were twenty years ago, they will lose everything in spite of having been nearly as financially conservative as a Swiss Banker. And as we unravel this mess, Joe the Plumber and Randy the Programmer would benefit from recovery policies that reward them if they kept their debt down, because minimizing household debt/equity ratios requires the civic and financial virtue called thrift. The primary source of financial rewards should be personal responsibility, not government redistribution.

An important factor in choosing the next President that is barely discussed is the behavior of Obama’s longtime preacher, Reverend Wright. Importantly, this is not an indictment of Obama, who apparently has forgiven his preacher for his excesses and risen above this outrageous conduct. But this is an indictment of Obama’s core constituency and much of his braintrust. I love the way Obama’s speeches inspire us to unite, but I disagree with the way his pastor’s sermons invoke divisive outrage and anger. Why did Obama feel he should attend a church for twenty years where the preacher thinks it is ok to speak this way in a sermon? I remember my Methodist upbringing quite well. I remember our Reverend, our preacher, who delivered the Sunday sermon year after year. I remember all the preachers in that church. They were loving, kind men, who would never start saying the Lord’s name in vain for any reason, ever, let alone to curse their own country.

A few days ago I did a YouTube search of videos of Obama’s preacher at work. And what I saw was disappointing. You can find these videos easily enough; this is not a fabrication. If standing in a pulpit and shrieking “God Damn America,” over and over again isn’t preaching hatred, I don’t know what is. Small children and impressionable young adults are there. People down on their luck and all too human, vulnerable to temptation by the notion of finding a scapegoat are there, maybe just that one time. Should the belief systems and ideologies of people who, as a congregation, condone if not nurture such conduct become the core constituency of the President of the United States of America?

John McCain is not the perfect man, or the perfect candidate, and perhaps Sarah Palin isn’t as polished and credentialed as Mr. Obama either. If the fiscal conservatives could have found a presidential candidate with Obama’s charisma, his youth, and his capacity to unite, the excitement of this publication would be uncontainable. If Hilary Clinton had gotten the nomination, we might even have endorsed her as an experienced and reliable fiscal centrist who would be a safer bet than the potentially erratic McCain, whose oligarchy-enabling campaign finance “reform” bill disqualifies him forever from a truly enthusiastic endorsement.

All Presidents bring with them their constituencies and their beliefs, and editorially speaking, this environmentalist publication prefers meritocracy, prefers reverent Christian values, and prefers trickle-down and supply side economics, not victim rhetoric and “spreading the wealth around.” As far as foreign policy considerations go, it may not matter whether McCain or Obama is elected – in fact Obama could be more of a risk than McCain. Like Clinton, who as a liberal could enact conservative driven welfare reform when Reagan could not, the decidedly unbellicose, brilliant orator Obama might actually tip the hinge of fate more easily than McCain, and widen America’s wars instead of end them.

At the end of the day, this election is about what kind of a government we trust to help us all dig out from our debt and build sustainably. For that work and more, we find governments reliant on the base of McCain and Palin will likely welcome and embrace the philosophies we espouse, unlike the base of Obama and Biden. Vote McCain/Palin.

Who will be the monarch?
(Photo: EcoWorld)

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