IDEMA: Are you going to hold your nose on Nov. 6?

Oct 24, 2012

The first two debates — I am writing this the day after the vice presidential debate — did not deal with poverty and how to overcome it, the $16 trillion national debt and how to reduce it, and the military-industrial complex and how to tame it. You may have your own frustrations in this election, but those are mine.

I have never seen so little enthusiasm in recent memory for either of the candidates heading up the major party tickets. Why?

Progressives are disappointed that President Obama did not fight for a single-payer health care system or a single-payer option, which would take some of the profit away from the sad circumstance that people get sick. Moreover, getting away from an employer-based health care system would liberate private enterprise from a horrible burden of insuring employees, thus making business more completive in the world market.

Progressives are also disappointed that the president did not support his own debt commission, Simpson-Bowles. If President Obama loses on Nov. 6, in my view the chief reason will be his failure to provide leadership on the national debt. A great visual for President Obama would have been taking the debt clock, used effectively by Mitt Romney, and coming up with a plan to turn the escalating numbers the other way.

Progressives are also disappointed that President Obama sent in more troops into Afghanistan, thus prolonging a war that was already our longest. If you can figure out the end game and how we are going to prevent the Taliban from taking over and making life hell for women, I am sure the president would love to hear from you — because in 2014 we are simply going to walk away from the mess we helped create. In 2008, there were other options; e.g., using surgical strikes instead of a large army.

Progressives are disappointed in the use of drones, which kill so many innocent civilians.

Conservatives are disappointed with the Romney-Ryan ticket because there is also no plan for reducing the national debt, at least one with specifics. U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan voted against Simpson-Bowles after serving on this commission. Mitt Romney also does not support the commission's recommendations.

It seems that both men will not agree to one dollar of additional revenue, even to reduce the debt. And both men want to increase defense spending beyond that which the military even wants, without telling us how they are going to pay for this.

Many conservatives — not the neocons! — are frightened of Romney's hawkish tone, and fear more wars. Saber rattling about Iran is making most of us nervous.

Most of all, fiscal conservatives — and I count myself among them — are disappointed that Romney's economic policies will not reduce the debt. Reducing taxes without being specific about cuts in spending and what "loopholes" would disappear sounds just like more political spin. Where are the specifics about the tax deductions that would be reduced?

And both Obama and Romney seem like chickens when it comes to entitlements. Is it so scary to say that we need to raise the retirement age and freeze cost-of-living increases until we get our fiscal house in order? Apparently so. Is it so scary to say that all Americans should pay an income tax to have "skin in the game," however small that tax may be for low incomes? And that the rich must pay more? Apparently so.

In my opinion, we need a third political party. Our two major political parties are really two wings of one party, bought and sold by lobbyists and corporate interests like the defense industry. We need a party that speaks with moral clarity about the pressing issues of the day — especially debt, a corrupt tax system, our endless wars and the profits they generate for powerful interests, and a health care system that is more efficient in creating profits than healing the sick.

I don't know if I will hold my nose on Nov. 6, but I sure won't be jumping for joy either.

— By the Rev. Henry Idema, Tribune religion columnist
 

Comments

Vladtheimp

I feel your pain, and share your lack of enthusiasm. Perhaps the best way to register your protest against this sham two party system is simply to withhold your vote. That would send a message!

Lanivan

Ah Vlad - subtle, subliminal (voter) suppression, perhaps?

Wingmaster

Oh Lan, you sly one!

Lanivan

I've learned from the master....wing, that is.....

Tri-cities realist

And alliteration is alive and advancing!

Lanivan

Bingo!

christopher

@vladtheimp and @revhenry I am not at all sure how withholding our votes would send a message other than to say that we are apathetic and lazy. The fact is that one of these two WILL BE president and a failure to vote seems to be a sign of lack of duty. I know we are not required to vote, but I sure think it would make more sense to vote third-party as opposed to not voting.

Tri-cities realist

Until we have a viable third party, withholding your vote or voting third party are essentially the same. Does anyone really think the 2 parties care about a fledgling 3rd party? Just ask Ross Perot. I believe the answer is instead to take back the 2 parties, the GOP from the country club rinos, and the Democrats from the far left (similar to JFK era). Sorry Vlad to let the cat out of the bag, some of us caught your sly attempt, I had to laugh at those who missed your sarcasm (although I'm sure neither of us would mind if they choose not to vote). Score another one for mighty Vlad! Lanivan caught it, albeit taking your comment to another level.

Wingmaster

Its a complicated process when two parties control the game/money. I do however think the time is ripe for another alternative. Withholding your vote is not the answer. What the answer is........needs to be a national discussion...sigh good luck!

Vladtheimp

I was only suggesting that the good Reverend withhold his vote - no one else. Sorry if that wasn't clear.

Wingmaster

Yup, my intensity got the better of my humorous side. Intensity insights inability to identify the impalers sly intent!!

Tri-cities realist

I've never understood, how someone could consider themselves a fiscal conservative and also a progressive (liberal). That must be like living with a split personality.

HavenWillie

"Moreover, getting away from an employer-based health care system would liberate private enterprise from a horrible burden of insuring employees, thus making business more completive in the world market."

This is a good point that is not often made.

Lanivan

Thank you for your frank piece, Rev. Idema. I understand your concerns, but see the problems with our two political parties a little differently. When virtually every congressional Republican, including Romney and led by Paul Ryan, made an oath to the lobbyist Grover Norquist to never, ever raise taxes for any reason, this was an immoral decision to put this oath to a lobbyist before their sacred oath of office, putting party before country. This had a disastrous effect on Obama's attempts to negotiate with them during the Simpson-Bowles Commission, the debt ceiling, and working for a balanced budget. The difference between them is simple - Obama believes the moral choice is a balanced one - shared sacrifice by all. Yes - cut waste, corruption, and inefficencies out of social net programs, but don't dismantle or defund them completely, cut military spending which is greater than all other major countries in the world. And, yes - let the temporary Bush tax cuts expire on the top 2% - those making $250,000, which would bring more revenue in as the economy improves. The Simpson-Bowles Commission promoted this approach, but it was Paul Ryan - a member of the committee and leader of the congressional far right conservatives who was opposed to the Commission and directed his far right colleagues in the House to not back it. With that kind of obstructionism, the Commission's report was dead in the water. In fact, Ryan's scorched earth policy of eliminating programs for the poor, the disabled, and the most vulnerable among us, no new revenue, and increasing military spending, has many Christian groups angry. Ryan, a Catholic, received numerous strongly worded letters from Catholic Bishops and nuns, rebuking this and insisting he work to provide a "circle of protection" for the poor and vulnerable. He has ignored them. Both Romney and Ryan, however, have not wavered in their promotion of tax cuts for the super rich (including eliminating the capital gains tax which has been a main driver of the growing gap in wealth inequality - the wealth of the top earners has grown 400% in recent years, while the middle class has stagnated or decreased), or increasing the military budget by $2 Trillion even though the Pentagon has stated it neither wants or needs it! Romney/Ryan want to take away women's reproductive, health care, and equal pay for equal work rights; increase military spending with stated aggression against several middle eastern countries; dismantle the "circle of protection" for the indigent and disabled; repeal ObamaCare that promotes preventative health care and more productive middle class and low-income families; and promote the principles of Ann Rand, an anti-Christ, atheist novelist. All this, coupled with the propensity of both Romney/Ryan to be untruthful on many issues, keeping the fact-checkers busy, is, to me, stunningly immoral. The contrast between candidates Romney/Ryan and the current Republican party and President Obama and the Democrats could not be starker. The moral choice would be to put country before party, take the sacred oath of office to serve country before party and come together in a spirit of compromise to offer a plan of shared sacrifice to heal our country after a deep and debilitating recession. A third party is a nice idea, but the election is in just a few days, and the choice and the vote today couldn't be more important.

Tri-cities realist

Rather than trying to confiscate more wealth from the top earners, perhaps a more moral plan would be to increase the wealth of those at the bottom of the income scale. And I don't see how a pledge to not raise taxes somehow invalidates the oath our elected officials have taken. Actually it supports the commitment to their oath, by following the Constitution.

Lanivan

Grover Norquist has publicly stated he intends to shrink government by "starving" it. Article 1 Section 8 of the US Constitution reads in part: ..Congress shall have the power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to PAY the DEBTS and provide for the COMMON DEFENCE and GENERAL WELFARE of the US. To take this further, Section 7311 (1) clearly states An individual may not...hold a position in the government of the US if he advocates the overthrow of our constitutional form of government. Because Republicans are putting an oath to Grover Norquist to refuse to raise taxes for ANY reason over their oath of office to uphold the Constitution, they are attempting to eliminate our constitutional form of government by defunding it. Grover Norquist, as a lobbyist, is in Washington to push an agenda, not sign pacts and oaths with elected officials. This is a very serious thing. Wing - "confiscate" wealth from the top earners? As you know, taxes are at the lowest level in 80 years, and with tax loopholes and other tax breaks, the wealthiest often pay no taxes or at very low rates - 12-14%, like Romney - AND interest rates are at almost 0. Really - the top tax rate in 1980 was 70%, and people were getting rich and the economy was growing. The best way to increase the wealth at the bottom is to grow the middle class, which has stagnated or shrunk in the last several years. The top 1% are outsourcing, or sitting on their money - TRILLIONS worth. They "invest" it in offshore accounts instead of investing in the US.

lmile61

There are different people and their point of view about Obama and Romney so we can not say who will win in this election but Romney will do the best work.
pests of stored products

ptech38

Most of the people have given result already for Barraq Obama and he did in this year a lot.
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