Ruminating the year that wasPublished 10:54am Friday, December 28, 2012
Certainly 2012 was dominated by the presidential elections. What did we learn about ourselves during a year of campaigns, local and national?
I think we can say that, Citizens United non-withstanding, the presidential election was not won by individuals willing to spend large amounts of money for a particular candidate.
We also observed that the sciences of polling and demographics are now cornerstones of national elections. The Obama campaign demonstrated that identifying voting blocs and then getting those voters to the polls beats all the TV ads money can buy.
On the other hand, the Citizens ruling may have found its power in local elections, where far less financial support can influence or change outcomes. 2014 may well see more “big money deep pockets” monies invested at the state and local levels, a shift that should benefit Republicans.
We did gain some insight into the personalities of politicians this year. Chris Christie is just a really likeable guy. I do not agree much with his political views, but he is very much like the rest of us. He has a temper, he eats too much, and he is self-deprecating, a quality more politicians could use in greater measure.
Joe Biden just likes people. It is apparent in his ear-to-ear smile and his willingness to talk to everyone wherever he goes. You may think Joe makes verbal errors, and he does, but for a guy willing to discuss a table leg with a total stranger for an hour, words will sometimes go wrong. It just happens.
John McCain was a guy who, with strength of conviction, spoke to the positive side of American values. At least McCain was that guy until he was “moderated” in his views to run for president in 2008. Today McCain seems to have changed entirely to a negative guy, seeking fault not opportunity. I remember the other John McCain and miss that guy.
Harry Reid may be a really smart politician, and may run the Senate well (though that would be hard to prove given the problems managing the Senate under current rules), but Harry is just not a very good guy for media. I would rather watch retired senator Alan Simpson dance than listen to Harry speak.
Writing of Senator Simpson, Simpson-Bowles really got it right budget wise, why don’t the Democrats and Republicans just stop bickering and just adopt that plan and call it good work and move on to other topics?
This was the year when the country changed its mind about gays, lesbians and other different folks and, for the first time, a slim majority of Americans agree they deserve equal rights in marriage contracts.
That represents a huge shift in values in a short period of time, led by Americans under 30 who pretty much just don’t care about alternative lifestyles.
As a result of the 2012 elections the nation may finally be ready for Immigration reform, though with the difficulty of congress accomplishing anything, even that modest goal may remain unattainable.
The impetus for change though is strong; Republicans are not prepared to lose endless future elections over demographic shifts in Hispanic voters, so they are, for the first time, looking forward to becoming a party that Hispanics can support in far larger numbers.
I am tired of the lame claim “it’s a spending problem.” Yes, we have to cut spending, but the federal budget is currently collecting revenue at 15.4 percent of GDP, when the historic average over the last thirty years is 18-19 percent of GDP for revenue.
And that level of revenue was before two wars, Medicare Part D, and baby boomers flooding to retirement.
The nation will require 20-22 percent of GDP to fund government if we are to keep our modest social safety net, and that we will do as Americans want Social Security and Medicare.
If the richest Americans cannot pay a penny more in taxes, then neither can the poorest Americans pay more taxes by cutting their incomes though Social Security CPI dishonest revisions.
Happy New Year to all.
Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.