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Buffoonery On Campaign Trail But Solutions Forming Too

by John on 01/22/2016

Here is my podcast on my latest observations on the presidential campaign.

You can also read along with my script/notes here.

It is Friday January 22nd.

Let’s discuss the presidential election as we head to the first caucuses and first primary.

My sports show is coming up at noon eastern too as we discuss the NFL playoffs and other football issues.

I know the presidential campaign looks like lunacy out there. It’s a reality show gone wild.

Sarah Palin out there talking jibberish for Trump. And people lauding Bernie for his campaign ad using Simon and Garfunkel’s tune from the 1970s America.

Both are typical of the lack of substance from all sides in this campaign.

But that’s the way it always is. I am reading Karl Rove’s new book – about the 1896 election and how it relates to today. I think the book is interesting but Rove is stretching a point about relating it to today. Still, the lunacy of those campaigns are just as bad or worse than today. So don’t think today we have cornered the political market on idiocy.

It is just the way it is.

My advice: Get involved but also sit back and enjoy. This is democracy in the 21st Century.

The reason we have so many candidates still vying for the nominations – and a wide range of ideas and ideologies – is simple.

We are going through massive change here and around the world.

This is not the 1980s, the 1990s, or even the early 2000s.

We are living in different times. First, the bulk of our population is aging and retiring. The baby boomers are going to suck up Medicare and the US budget in a massive way over the next 10-20 years.

Second, technology is changing the way we work, communicate, and buy stuff.

What is that doing politically? It is giving many of us – and different candidates – a louder voice. We are getting many voices and ideas out there. But technology is also cutting jobs and lowering salaries. It is making business more efficient while eliminating people from those jobs.

As a result, many Americans are insecure – and they are starting to test things. That’s what this campaign is – a big test of how we are going to govern ourselves.

And despite the loud voices and the big crowds, I am not so convinced that the majority of Americans are set – or totally convinced – about who they will pull the lever for – when they get into that booth alone.

Despite the fears of Bernie Sanders socialism, I don’t think people think we’re going to become another Soviet Union or Cuba. In fact, I think some people think we need to move back towards the left a bit.

Now the term socialism scares people over 45. They remember the Soviet Union and Cuba. Younger folks don’t. But most of us also don’t realize that Bernie’s socialism is rooted in European socialism – not the Soviet, Chinese style of the 50s, 60s, and 70s.

This is also why a lot of people are following Trump. Yes, he has a lot of bluster and at times he does not make sense. But he embodies American entrepreneurship. Forge ahead. Do something to stop the problem. Take charge.

We want someone that will do that with government so we can live our lives and do our jobs.

What we haven’t figured out yet is the sweet spot between Trump’s unbridled capitalism and Bernie’s overly benevolent socialism.

Both of them have some real problems in the reality of governing. Bernie has a math problem. We cannot afford what he wants. And Trump fails to understand that governing requires getting 50% behind you, not capturing 1% of the market and you are a hero.

Still, I think both of them – if either becomes president – are smart enough – despite some of the buffoonery on the campaign trail – to find common ground to make things happen. That’s because they realize Americans want to get things done.

What Bernie and Trump have also found together is the disgust with both political parties.

I’ve noticed that the GOP candidates are no longer saying what a real Republican is. The reason: no one really knows.

That leads to a question I get asked a lot. Will both parties implode and no longer exist? I say they will continue to exist but they will both look differently. I look at the Dems of the 1920 when the party became more urban and immigrant or in the 1990s when the party became more corporate and middle of the road. The GOP is going to have some ugly fights between business Republicans, neo-cons, the Tea Party, and evangelicals. We still will have a 2-party system but it’s much different now. And there will be more independents with louder voices getting power – and in which party? Who knows? Keep watching.

Here’s another good thing coming out of this campaign. We are finding that special interest money does not win elections. We actually might have a consensus of people to get rid of Citizens United.

And we may also get a consensus on getting the country moving in the right direction – using ideas from the left and the right.

For example, I think we are beginning to realize that cutting taxes for the wealthy does not lead to jobs. It leads to the wealthy getting wealthier – and less revenues for the federal government to function. Again this is not 1960 when JFK slashed taxes and the economy rebounded.

In fact, what was heartening for me was a Brookings study that said most Americans are ok with middle class tax increases as long as everyone pays their fair share.

And I think most people realize that priming the pump with more federal spending is not the answer either. We have a massive spending problem – that is only heading to a bigger disaster with Medicare. Remember it is estimated that recipients are only paying in 1/3rd of the medical expenses they will use over their lifetime. Why? Because we are living longer. And the politicians of the past worried more about getting votes than about giving us the mathematical reality of Medicare.

Unfortunately, no candidate on either side is talking about it – because seniors vote in big numbers. And in a few years, as a country we are going to be facing a massive dilemma. What do we do with lower quality and quantity of medical care for seniors who are aging and dying at a faster rate? Do we force the younger generation to forfeit their futures – of investing in the future government – to take care of a promise made by politicians in the 1970s to the 2000s who didn’t understand what they were talking about? Do we punish the baby boomers for being naïve to the math? This question is being left un-addressed right now.

Here’s the reality that I think many Americans are beginning to realize.

As I mentioned in the Brookings survey, most Americans are ok with tax cuts across the board – for everyone paying their fair share.

This is a good first step – because – and here it is – we cannot raise taxes, cut spending, and invest ourselves out of this problem alone. We need to do all 3 aggressively – which will require sacrifice from every sector of our country.

That means: increasing tax revenues by first reducing tax breaks and deductions, finding efficiencies in Medicare by raising eligibility requirements, and investing in infrastructure and training for the new high-tech economy.

And I think Bernie and Trump are somewhere in there.

Now is the time to do it too. Energy prices are low. We are becoming less dependent on the rest of the world for our oil. The other economic countries – China, Japan, Russia – are nowhere near as lucky as we are. They are aging at a worse rate. They lack the education and resources. People want to come here for a better life – not anywhere else.

I think these solutions are slowly coming into view – thanks to this silly campaign.

I am not so convinced we will have the answers right away. But I think we are slowly moving in that direction. Hopefully this isn’t too late.

 

 


 

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