I am typically a guy who likes to replace politicians and leaders frequently. But I am also a guy who does not like to change horses mid-stream if that horse is carrying the load.
Romney does represent a great American tradition. There is a lot of talk of the independent pioneers and seekers of religious freedom who helped found our country. There is a lot of talk of the middle class heroes of the last century who worked hard and made better lives for themselves. Obama is a part of those stories. But maybe we have had enough of those stories.
We don’t often pay tribute to the rum runners, the slave traders, the pirates and the plunderers who helped create so much wealth. We may not like to talk about that aspect of our history, but we still like to celebrate some of these figures in our pop culture. Jack Sparrow, Scarface, Vito Corleone, Walter White and Jules Winnfield , Rhett Butler and Gordon Gekko are all characters we love. I realize that in an economic system dependent on bubbles and bursts and expansion and contraction that there are always winners and losers. The guys who end up buying good assets when they are available for pennies on the dollar and the guys who are able to take a million dollar company and split it up into ten million dollars of returns deserve a lot of credit. They had the skill, connections, access to capital and courage to pull off a big coup. I wouldn’t mind a ten million dollar payday once in a while myself.
Way back in the day when there were no regulations or regulators to control business deals and financial wrangling, there were some pretty big coups from time to time. Then people like Teddy Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt lead the movement for more regulations and controls. It wasn’t until Reagan that some of these controls began to go away. Even still, it is a credit to Romney’s chutzpah that he was able to pull off some of the big deals he as able to pull off. The fact that creative people were able to engineer a housing bubble and create whole layers of financial speculation instruments around the bubble is pretty remarkable. That kind of creative energy is one reason why I’d like to be able to support Romney and his supporters. If you could channel that kind of drive into one focus, you could accomplish a lot. I loved playing pirates when I was a kid, and the notion of a pirate actually winning all the prizes seems a child’s dream come true.
I have a couple of issues I can’t get past. Maybe someone can help me. Although I love the romantic notion of a pirate taking over the Whitehouse, I am not sure it would be good for the country. I am not sure it would be good for me. Can someone convince me how it would be? The pirate usually is only focused on taking the booty and hiding the treasure. Certainly any of the pirate’s allies and crew members would take a certain piece of the treasure. But whenever we played pirates as a kid, I remember that we pillaged the village and sunk everyone else’s boats to make our getaway.
I wouldn’t mind replacing Obama, if I could find a good reason to replace him. He followed through on a promise to try to broaden healthcare for the nation. He followed through on reducing troop counts in Iraq. He followed through on his promise to go into Pakistan to get suspected terrorists. He held his nerve through the financial meltdown. He managed to negotiate and facilitate bailouts for big companies, while making sure that the government would get mostly paid back. He managed to conduct a war in Libya without putting any troops on the ground. He stayed cool as a cucumber as uprisings around the Middle East roll from one country to another. He has managed to keep restrained even though his detractors and the opposition parties have tried to shut him down completely.
I don’t like that he has continued policies like the Patriot Act. I don’t like that he is making drone assassinations our foreign policy. Although some argument could be made that if we had taken out people like Hitler or Stalin or Pol Pot with a drone assassination, it would have been a really good thing to do. Would it have been okay to kill innocent bystanders to assassinate Hitler, Stalin or Pol Pot? Think of how many innocent people died a horrible death because of just those three.
I also have trouble with the labeling of Obama as a liberal socialist. I think that is just ridiculous. If you look at how he has run things, he looks more like a traditional republican like Eisenhower or Ford. I seem to recall feeling like those two were good presidents. Obama’s moves to bail out big banks and big auto makers may prove to be as important as Ford pardoning Nixon when historians of the future look back at unpopular and distasteful actions that saved the nation. Obama does not act like a liberal socialist. Some leftists even assert that Obama’s time has been more like a third term of G.W. Bush. There may be some truth to that.
I have to believe that there are more bad times, more challenging times and more difficulties ahead. In spite of any reservations I have about Obama, I think he has carried the load as well or better than anyone else could have. You can’t pull the foundations out of the world’s economy, wipe out a whole sector of it with a world wide bubble burst and then expect to fix that by lowering interest rates another basis point or by cutting taxes. You can’t replace an economic engine like the housing bubble or a worldwide frenzy for derivatives with a pirate’s appetite for pillage and expect anything good to come out of it for anyone but the few pirates who survive the bum rush for the booty.
I understand that the trend has been to cut governments, de-fund governments and to bury governments in debt to make them ineffective and vulnerable to takeover. This has served many speculators well. It has forced governments to sell off assets, reduce services, reduce enforcement of regulations and to look weak and ineffective. This has been working well. Many cities and even a few states are starting to crumble, leaving their assets available to be taken over and re-purposed. There will be some big winners involved.
The United States is one of the few larger countries left that has not been thoroughly raided. When the Soviet Union fell, the assets of the nation were taken over by those with the capital, connections and chutzpah to take them over. The transition of the USSR serves as a model for pirates in other nations to emulate. This model was successful in every former soviet republic. The United States is ripe for such a transition. If the political atmosphere is handled correctly, we could see the exact same kind of pillage as happened in the former Soviet Union. This will be good times for the people who manage to wrangle the valuable assets away from others, but it might be a little rough for anyone who cannot play with the big boys. What can you do? There are always winners and losers.
When China began to enter the world economy a few decades ago, its private-governmental partnerships created huge profits for the well connected, the brave and the driven. China also serves as an excellent model for a different kind of future, one in which the government stays strong, but only in order to keep the pirates’ activities shielded and protected. If the current political climate is handled correctly, we could see the United States becoming a boomtown for the well connected in politics and speculation as private-government collusions grow. I remember one scenario we played out when playing pirates as a kid, was a scenario where the Governor of the colony became our partner. He gave us all the good information and all the good contracts so we could pillage at will without risk. I loved playing pirates.
Although I love so many things about Russia and China, I am not sure I am prepared for living in economic/political systems that model what they have been able to create over the last 25 years. Although I love the romantic notion of the pirates winning, I am not sure I am prepared to have the pirates governing us and making all the rules. I am open to changing my mind. Perhaps I am not seeing the whole picture. Perhaps the pirates would serve us well.
Unless someone can convince me otherwise, I seem to be left with no other choice but to support Obama’s reelection. I can’t say I am completely pleased with our current systems, our current trends or with all the directions Obama seems to be taking things. He would not be my first choice as a president if I could choose anyone. But I do think Obama has been a thoughtful and courageous leader. I have to respect that.
If my horse is being thoughtful and courageous and I am mid-stream with storm clouds above and uncertainty waiting for me on the shore ahead, why on earth would I change horses now?