How do they do it? How do they get up every morning and go out on the campaign trail, do their stump speeches and go to innumerable campaign events? I was sick of the whole process months ago. And we haven’t even begun the final battle of the fall. I’ve heard it’s a huge personal decision to run for president, and now I see why. What kind of person would subject themselves to this gauntlet?
A friend of mine is a big fan of old movies and she’s able to quote from, it seems, the entire Turner Classic Movies repertoire. I’m not a fan of old movies, though there are exceptions. Like most, I identify with the music and movies of my own era. However, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington by Frank Capra is an “old” movie that everyone should see. Yes, the dialogue and style is different than modern cinema, but the issues are timeless and very relevant today.
Jimmy Stewart plays a starry eyed small town fellow who is selected by the Washington political establishment to temporarily fill an empty Senate seat. He goes to Washington with the spirit of an American patriot, but is considered a bumpkin by the elite and someone to be manipulated. I won’t tell you the rest of the story, but the current election season made me think of this old gem.
It seems to me that the current Presidential candidates, like all politicos who run for office, do so for one or a combination of several reasons. The first and most noble reason is exemplified by Mr. Smith. These are people who want to serve their country and run for office to make a difference. Another reason is for personal gain. Some want to leverage their elected position for power or monetary gain. Virtually all United States Senators leave office as millionaires like Harry Reid. Bernie Sanders may be an exception. And finally some just love the feeling of being important and the accolades of others (prestige).
As I weigh the candidates for president, I try and measure their motives. This is difficult because I really don’t know any of these people and only have my observations of their actions and rhetoric to base my opinions. Years ago, a colleague of mine noted my frustration during another presidential election. I was dismayed when he advised me to just vote for the candidate I felt would best help me rather than what I perceived was best for the country. My friend’s attitude in the 1980s seems to have been prophetic. Many now choose a candidate who promises them the most stuff. The humorist Will Rogers once said, “If we got one-tenth of what was promised to us in the State of the Union speeches, there wouldn’t be any inducement to go to heaven.”
These days, young people want “free stuff” like a college education. Others demand $15 an hour to flip burgers. Many don’t seem to realize that nothing is “free,” and what they want must be taken from someone else’s pocket. A zero-sums strategy of economics is one where people fight for a larger slice of the pie which mandates others must have less. This is the logic of Bernie and socialism which has never worked. On the other hand, Hillary learned in the Senate to get her cut off the top.
As an alternative, capitalism is the one economic engine which “grows the pie” and enables everyone the possibility of more. Capitalism fueled the economic engine known as America which enabled subsequent generations and immigrants to better themselves and their children’s chances of success. Unfortunately, unfettered capitalism led to the robber barons of the late 1800s, but we’ve largely fixed those problems with laws and regulations. Unfortunately, we’ve swung to the other extreme and now denigrate success and hard work. These days, young people are not taught that life is not always fair. More than 50% of the millennial generation now prefer socialism over capitalism. Winston Churchill once said, “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of the blessings. The inherent blessing of socialism is the equal sharing of misery.”
The Founders of our country were afraid of democracy after studying the problems of Ancient Greece where the majority often disenfranchised the minority. The Romans instead opted for a republic, at least before corruption set in and the people sacrificed their freedom to the Caesars who promised them “bread and circus.”
To protect all citizens our Founders established a representative republic, a system of government predicated on the rule of law codified in the Constitution. As in ancient Greece we’ve unfortunately shifted to one citizen, one vote (democracy) where the majority can insist their “representatives” (or President) take the property of those with whom they disagree and give it to their supporters as quid pro quo for their vote. This is modern day “mob rule.”
Like the ancient Romans Americans are disgusted with the corruption in government and the electioneering which seems to disenfranchise We The People. And if we’ve learned anything from this election season, it’s that we no longer trust the Democrat and Republican parties. These are not “democratic” organizations. However, we must not make the mistakes of history and surrender our freedom to modern day Caesars (in pants or skirts) who promise to take care of us. Remember what Thomas Jefferson said, “A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have.” I wish the majority of millennials who now prefer socialism to capitalism knew about history.
I wish this election season was all over, and tomorrow morning we would awaken to find that the country decided to survive. I remain hopeful, even though history is full of cultures who have gone down America’s path and have ended on the ash heaps of history. I am confident it will be “OK” for mankind, even if Americans choose to no longer be Americans, and vote to continue the destruction of our once proud country. It especially grieves me for my children and grandchildren who are innocents in this otherwise sordid affair.
The Founders of our country pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor as they severed the bounds to a despotic government. These brave men knew what was at stake. Ben Franklin told his comrades “We must all hang together or assuredly shall all hang separately.”
We now approach the American revolution of modern times. I hope we hang together and pledge our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor to the concept known as America. Reflect on this when you pull the lever in November.