after Obama won the election I submitted this piece to The Agonist.
The Election That Changed the World…,
no, no, no…, not the election of Barack Obama. Though I sincerely hope that I will someday write that about it.
Once upon a time we had a President who was truly elected by the people…, and he worked tirelessly for the people of America then…, and continues to work for the betterment of all mankind long after his term in office. He was elected mainly because he promised never to lie to the American people. And he never did. While in office he said things like,
“Tonight I want to have an unpleasant talk with you about a problem unprecedented in our history. With the exception of preventing war, this is the greatest challenge our country will face during our lifetimes. The energy crisis has not yet overwhelmed us, but it will if we do not act quickly.”
He told the truth…, always.
“Two days from now, I will present my energy proposals to the Congress. Its members will be my partners and they have already given me a great deal of valuable advice. Many of these proposals will be unpopular. Some will cause you to put up with inconveniences and to make sacrifices.”
He proceeded to lay out ten principals of the plan and seven measurable goals…, including solar energy in two and one half million homes.
“I can’t tell you that these measures will be easy, nor will they be popular. But I think most of you realize that a policy which does not ask for changes or sacrifices would not be an effective policy.”
He believed in the American people and their willingness to share common sacrifice to the betterment of all.
“I believe this can be a positive challenge. There is something especially American in the kinds of changes we have to make. We have been proud, through our history of being efficient people.”
He went on to say,
“I am sure each of you will find something you don't like about the specifics of our proposal. It will demand that we make sacrifices and changes in our lives. To some degree, the sacrifices will be painful -- but so is any meaningful sacrifice. It will lead to some higher costs, and to some greater inconveniences for everyone.”
He understood…, and stood up to…, the special interests in Washington.
“We can be sure that all the special interest groups in the country will attack the part of this plan that affects them directly. They will say that sacrifice is fine, as long as other people do it, but that their sacrifice is unreasonable, or unfair, or harmful to the country. If they succeed, then the burden on the ordinary citizen, who is not organized into an interest group, would be crushing.”
In closing this speech he reiterated his faith in the American people,
“Other generations of Americans have faced and mastered great challenges. I have faith that meeting this challenge will make our own lives even richer. If you will join me so that we can work together with patriotism and courage, we will again prove that our great nation can lead the world into an age of peace, independence and freedom.”
He continued to tell the truth though the next few years of his Presidency. But the American people soon found that they had no stomach for any form of sacrifice…, and they had much less faith in him than he had in them. The Baby Boom generation who had never wanted for anything…, only wanted more. And they got it…, when they elected Ronald Reagan over Jimmy Carter.
That was the election that truly changed the world.
If Jimmy Carter had been re-elected in 1980 this country and this world today would be a significantly better place…, in terms of energy independence, economic prosperity, and world peace. That election started us on the road to where we are in this current financial crisis. The Bail Out Bullshit that is occurring today pales in comparison to the Bail Out that Reagan instituted during his reign. He tripled the national debt to keep Americans from having to make any sacrifices (and enriched a lot of his friends along the way). He proved that real Americans were not the ones that Carter believed in. Real Americans didn’t care about deficits or any other long term problems. They only cared about “feel good now” policies. And every politician since then has learned that lesson well. It’s not that they want to lie…, they just learned that you can’t tell the truth or ask for sacrifices if you want to get elected.
Yes…, you can argue that Carter was ineffective as a President..., and you would be right. He couldn’t get support for his policies because no one was willing to give back anything. No one was willing to make the sacrifices he asked for. Not the special interests, the other politicians…, or the American people. Jimmy Carter brought us to the brink of peace in the Middle East. Reagan brought us the Star Wars initiative. Carter’s vision was real…, Reagan’s was illusion. Carter had us on the road to fiscal responsibility. Reagan squandered our fiscal future. And we have never recovered…, fiscally or morally.
No…, Jimmy Carter wasn’t the best President we ever had. But he was the best man we ever had as President. And if Barack Obama is half the man that Jimmy Carter is…, maybe I will someday be writing about another election that changed the world.
Scott R. November 8, 2008 - 6:12pm