Over the past few weeks I’ve been consumed with following the impending financial crisis which looms large in America. I watched President Bush’s first television address to the nation, kept track of progress on the proposed $700 billion bail-out plan on Capital Hill, and surveyed the thinking of pundits from the New York Times, the BBC, the LA Times, FoxNews, and ESPN Page 2′s Tuesday Morning Quarterback. Even Dave Ramsey has weighed in. I have friends who have enthusiastically backed the plan and others that have vehemently opposed it, and they have called their representatives to have their opinion heard.
When it comes to the proposed plan I remain suspicious. I guess I’m more of a free market capitalist than I supposed, holding the opinion that irresponsible firms on Wall Street should have to pay the price for poor decision making. I also am reluctant to herald those in Washington as “heroes,” for it seems that pressure both from the executive and congressional branches of government led the housing industry to grant questionable loans to under-resourced Americans. It seems to me that both the government and our leading financial institutions are to blame, and the American taxpayer will carry the heaviest burden in turning this ship around. Even if a bail-out is a necessary action, I’m still asking if this will change our economic policies and decision making process in the near future.
Considering the fact that our government has borrowed more money in the past decade than in all our previous history combined I doubt that our approach will change, and I’m not surprised that a financial crisis has come upon us. As Paul wrote in the book of Galatians, “A man reaps what he sows.” Our reckoning has come. Who is to say that if our government does manage to pass a financial plan that will save our economy in the short term that in the future our country’s finances will be managed more responsibly? That would be the voters, both in who we select and in our persistence in following the issues, staying informed, and keeping those who represent us accountable. This will require education on behalf of the American public–we’ll have to create spaces in our communities–be they local government, church communities, PTAs, Rotary, etc.–where people can have discussions regarding how government works and exactly what is happening in Washington. When I watched President Bush’s initial television address, I remarked to my wife, “You have to be educated in basic economics to understand what he is saying. How many people can track with him regarding these basic economic principles, particularly when a staggering number of American’s cannot even manage their own finances?”
Also discouraging for the McCain camp must be the finding of a new Marist Poll, described by the Swamp’s same Silva. It reveals that while a plurality (45%) expect Biden to perform better in the debate and a majority (61%) expect him to show a greater understanding of issues, compared to Palin’s 36% and 28%, nearly two out of three expect Palin to come across as more likeable, compared to Biden’s measly 23% anticipated likeability. (emphasis mine)
What disturbs me most about this poll is that I have yet to gain enough faith in the voter to believe that “likeability” is not one of the most significant factors in our image-driven culture. As Winston Churchill once remarked, “The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.” I’m not quite that skeptical, but I might be close.
I still need to watch the whole of the Presidential Debate which took place last Friday, though I’ve read plenty of reviews and know not much of note took place.
At this stage in the game, I’m still measuring the candidates and assessing their strategy, plan, and vision for our country. As I’ve said, I want to cast an informed vote that takes into account the content of the candidates words in written and in spoken form. I’m also working hard to try to understand where we as a country currently stand, which is quite difficult considering that state of our media.
If you have a thought, opinion, or question concerning the candidates and the upcoming election, weigh in, write a blog post, and further the discussion. I’m game for talk of politics.