George McGovern ran for the presidency in 1972 against a person, Richard Nixon, who has now gone into history as a criminal and a war crimes figure of historic proportions. He had a plan in 1968 to end the war in Vietnam, or so he told us. His plan was to enlarge the bombing campaign to include countries with which we were not at war and to expand greatly the killing fields of Southeast Asia. We had a four year history to examine prior to the election in 1972. That history showed a compelling need for a “regime change” in America. There were even early warning signs of a presidency that was resorting to outright criminal behavior to remain in office. Yet, the nation re-elected him, defeating George McGovern in a landslide. What kind of nation might we have become had the reverse happened? We will never know.
Happily, in 2008, when Barack Obama ran for the presidency against John McCain, the Nation was so weary from the eight disastrous years of Bush and Republican misrule, arguably the worst period since the period just prior to the Great Depression under Mr. Hoover. We opted to “throw the bums out”.
Having cleaned house, however, the Nation failed to understand fully the breadth and depth of the economic and global mess Mr. Obama had inherited. Americans have notoriously short attention spans, and little to no memory of recent history. Americans were paying attention, only to a point. By the time of the inauguration, it was back to business—“get me a beer hon, so I can relax and watch Dem Bears.”
Despite the reporting of just how extensive and how grave was the damage wrought by the Bush Neo-Cons, Americans seemed not to grasp what was happening. They expected a rapid turnaround, despite the collapsing structures all around them. It was as though we were in San Francisco in the middle of the 1906 quake, while assuming that the commute to work might be a little more difficult the next day.
So, after nearly four years of digging ourselves out, with zero assistance from Republican ne’er-do-wells—the “Just Say No” crowd—we are now officially fed up with blaming Bush for the continuing misery, and we imagine that by now, all the problems should have disappeared. But the truth is, it’s really now 1936 all over again. Hopefully, it will not take WW III to bail us out, although Republicans seem to be heading in that direction for their answers.
The Nation under President Obama has made some large strides towards a more favorable economic structure, but we have miles to go before we sleep. Rather than reducing regulations and reducing the tax rates, we need to do the opposite. We need, in fact, to reinvent our entire financial system, much as we did after Great Depression I. This time, the changes may need to be reinvention more than redesign.
We also don’t need to mindlessly expand our military as some have argued (Mitt comes to mind). We need to reinvent our military, so that it can operate with relatively greater brainpower. We probably need to reinvent the War against Terrorists. It is not really a “War” per se. In the Taliban and Al Qaida, we have one or more organized crime rings composed of assassins. They remain operational through exporting opium, and through their ability to hide in places like Pakistan that seem to have vast regions outside their national control. The answer to that problem is not clear, but building three more nuclear submarines per year is surely not an answer.
If ever this Nation needed a thoughtful national election it is here and now. Unfortunately, our media has deteriorated to the point of being a national joke, led in their mindless quest for ratings of course by Murdoch’s Faux News Network. The people are surely suffering from election reporting fatigue. But we really cannot afford to succumb to such fatigue. We must think as we go to vote, and go to vote we must. Thinking is hard, because it requires sweeping away the garbage heaped on us daily by the media.
My wife and I have already voted in North Carolina, joining several hundred thousand other citizens of this state. Hopefully, the national polls are wrong and the President will be re-elected.
But before you enter the voting booth, it would be well to remember that a vote for Romney-Ryan is equivalent to a vote to re-elect George W. Bush. The Nation cannot afford such a disaster.