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We Have a Problem; We Have a Huge Problem!

September 4th, 2012 // 12:53 pm @

The recent energy and posts about my article on why it is important to vote once again reinforced that we have a seriously, lasting, structural problem in America. Almost everything about the election is promoting this same message, though few have recognized it.

We get all up in arms about this candidate or that, we emotionally buy in to one candidate and then label everyone else by which candidate they support, and we spend a lot of time actively engaged in politics. We blog, we argue, we discuss, we read, we talk politics to friends, family, co-workers and anyone else who will engage.

All of that is great. None of that is the problem. The more energy we give to politics in election years, the better (within the bounds of decency, of course).

No, the problem is that on November 7 most of this passion and behavior will stop. Oh, the most zealous participants in the 2012 election will still be griping or celebrating well into January, but within a about 100 days after the 2013 inauguration, no matter who wins, nearly all Americans will give little thought to politics for the next four years. A few will get involved again during the 2014 midterm election, but the large majority won’t. It won’t be polite anymore to discuss politics at dinner, and most people won’t.apollo 13 300x225 We Have a Problem; We Have a Huge Problem!

So yes, Houston, we have a problem. As a nation of citizens we mostly ignore our government, a respectable few get excited during elections, and a lot get involved briefly in presidential elections. But we turn off our citizen-passion when elections are over and its time to govern.

And that is precisely the worst time to do it. During elections, candidates are much more likely to listen to the people, to care what the citizenry thinks. So if you’re going to take a break from politics, do it right now. Stay with me and let me tell you why.

The election will come and go, and the leaders of both parties and at all levels (national, state, county, and local) will listen to the people. Here’s the kicker: Then, when the people get back to ignoring politics, the dangerous time will begin. Politicians will focus on governing, and terrible policies that reduce our freedoms will be passed–month after month.

This is how freedom is lost.

The best-case scenario is for the citizens, at the least the vocal ones who care (and you can tell who they are right now during the election season), to be passionate, vocal and deeply involved during elections and also every day between elections.

That’s called citizenship. And it is the basis of all lasting freedom.

No elite group (politicians or a wealthy class or any other) is going to protect the freedom of the people as well as the people. And it doesn’t take 90-100% of the regular people, just about 10-20% who are passionate and vocal. Again, if you are one of those people right now in this election season, you are one of those we need between elections.

In fact, we need you even more between elections, and we need you to be even more vocal, passionate and daily involved than we do now.

“But right now, the politicians will listen, so isn’t this the most important time?” someone will ask.

Answer: Yes, this is a vital, an essential time to use influence while the leaders listen. But when the elections are over and the leaders stop listening, your influence and voice and focused participation will be even more, way more, necessary–because most people like you won’t be doing anything.

WE HAVE A HUGE PROBLEM, and it will begin in earnest on November 7, 2012. We need you to be part of the solution.

I’m not suggesting you do less during the election. I’m suggesting, in fact, that you give it your very best.

Then, starting November 7 and running for the next four years, America needs you to do even more–a lot more.

 

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odemille 133x195 custom We Have a Problem; We Have a Huge Problem!Oliver DeMille is the chairman of the Center for Social Leadership and co-creator of Thomas Jefferson Education.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

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Category : Blog &Citizenship &Culture &Current Events &Government &Independents &Leadership &Liberty &Mission &Politics &Statesmanship

What about Paul?

September 4th, 2012 // 12:19 pm @

I got a lot of responses to my article on why everyone should vote. Most were in agreement, and readily shared it on social media. Of those who took exception, the concerns they expressed boiled down to two main thoughts:

1. What about Ron Paul?

2. But Romney’s not really for limited government!

Both have real merit.

1. What About Paul?

First, I think Ron Paul is a great man, and I have been a fan of nearly all his suggestions and policies since I first read a book by him clear back in, I think, the 80′s. He is right about so many things. I have a few disagreements with him too, but less than with the two major candidates.

As you will note from my article, my main point was that everyone should vote, and if you don’t like the main candidates then write in a name. If this is your plan, I think Ron Paul is an even better write-in than those I suggested in the article (mostly tongue-in-cheek, as I did not want to promote a particular candidate per se). My point was to vote, but to be aware that a write-in vote is more for being able to argue your case for good government over the next four years than for actually swaying the election. A vote for Ron Paul does just that.

If you want to sway the election, do two things: first, already be a voter in a swing state, and second, vote for one of the main candidates. If you don’t meet these requirements or don’t want to vote for either major candidate, by all means, write someone in.

2. But Romney’s not for Limited Government!

Second, presidential politics always come down to imperfect votes. If you want a perfect candidate, look to your House of Representative election and get a candidate that is truly ideal to your wants. If there isn’t such a candidate, you’ve got two years to help find one and help him/her get elected.

That said, for those who don’t think Romney is much of a limited government candidate, I have two words for you: Barack Obama.

President Obama has shown that he is a committed big-government president, and the next four years under an Obama Administration will be a massive move to bigger government, more regulation, etc. If you want the bigger government choice, vote for Obama. If you want a possibly limited, but definitely more limited than Obama, government, I have two words for you: Paul Ryan. We need major fiscal responsibility, and soon. If that’s what you want, you have two choices: Romney/Ryan, or a write in candidate to make a statement, but not actually derail the Obama candidacy. That said, there is a great American tradition of protest voting.

If you are in a swing state, your vote could decide the election. Do you want bigger government? Vote Obama. Do you want a growing government in the Bush/Bush style, possibly better but maybe not, but not massive growth Obama government: vote Romney/Ryan. Do you want real limited government: get seriously involved in getting the right House of Representatives in, now or in 2014, and decide whether Romney/Ryan is a good start in your mind or if a protest vote that says “Reagan or Bust” is better.

 
 

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odemille 133x195 custom What about Paul?Oliver DeMille is the chairman of the Center for Social Leadership and co-creator of Thomas Jefferson Education.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

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Category : Blog &Citizenship &Current Events &Government &Independents &Politics &Statesmanship

Why Bother? A Diatribe on Voting

September 1st, 2012 // 10:19 am @

obama romney 300x225 Why Bother? A Diatribe on Voting

Image Source: BusinessInsider.com

A friend emailed me with concerns about friends and acquaintances from her community who say they find both candidates, um….lacking.

I’ve heard this now from several people, and I think it deserves consideration. Specifically, I have four thoughts:

1. It’s not about the president. Much.

trainwreck 300x222 Why Bother? A Diatribe on VotingFirst, even if you don’t vote for president, the Congressional, state and local elections are going to drastically impact the future of our economy during the next ten years.

Nobody will escape the consequences of this election, nor the coming decades’ economic ups and downs. No matter who wins the White House, the Congress is going to decide if we go into massive decline or real recovery.

This is not hyperbole, and I truly mean it in a literal sense.

This is because Congress will determine the tax policy, borrowing, budget and business opportunity policies that will make or break our economy in the short term. Many have referred to a coming figurative train wreck in Washington; it doesn’t seem too far-fetched anymore to suggest that the headlights are appearing on the horizon and the ground is starting to rumble.

This election may be the most important one in our lifetime, given what’s at stake for the economy.

So VOTE!

2. Ain’t No Such Thing

swing state ch Why Bother? A Diatribe on Voting

Image Source: HowStuffWorks.com/swing-state.htm

There is no such thing as a “no” vote in a presidential election.

Why? Because not voting is a vote for the incumbent. That’s why the incumbent in any election has a slight edge – by already being in office.

More people vote when they want change, while those who are happy or complacent with the status quo are less likely to go vote. If you are happy and complacent, by all means: don’t vote (i.e. vote for the incumbent).

Now, if you live in Wyoming (where the vote will certainly be for Romney) or New York (where Obama will definitely win) this is mitigated somewhat; but in the swing states, a “no” vote in 2012 is a vote for Obama.

If that’s fine with you, then fine. As long as you understand that when you boycott an opportunity to vote, it’s not a repudiation of both candidates; it’s an Obama vote.

By the way, the swing and possible swing states in 2012 include:

  • Florida
  • Michigan
  • Ohio
  • West Virginia
  • Colorado
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Wisconsin
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • North Carolina
  • Pennsylvania
  • Virginia

And a dozen others could swing.

3. Show Some Spunk.

Tim Tebow Shirts Tim Tebow for President 300x300 Why Bother? A Diatribe on Voting

Image Source: cardboardconnection.com/weirdest-tebow-shirts-ebay

If you’re one who strongly dislikes both candidates and really can’t swallow the taste in your mouth to vote for one of them, at the very least be a Rascal or a maverick and write someone in. Write in someone who you think could do better than either of the big-party candidates, and you’ll be able to tell people for the next four years how your candidate would have solved every crisis that arises. Of course, there will be no way to verify this, but it will open the door for a lot of stimulating conversations.

Besides, it’s fun — and educational — to tell your friends (and especially your kids and grandkids) why you voted for some non-candidate who you consider a great and promising leader. Don’t embarrass the leader by actually launching an unofficial campaign in his name. Just vote for him/her. Then, when you tell your kids you voted for Will Smith or Elizabeth Hasselbeck or Tim Tebow, they’ll listen as you explain why. Take the opportunity to teach them something important about freedom and leadership.

Or, when they ask who you voted for, you can say, “Uh…well, nobody.” You might as well tattoo the word “LOSER” on your forehead.

4. But Seriously…

20111125 rockwellFreedomSpeech 234x300 Why Bother? A Diatribe on VotingFinally, in all seriousness, the two candidates (warts and all) stand for two different things. One stands for Big Government Helping People and the other for Limited Government and Free Enterprise Helping People.

The future of these two visions goes in very different directions.

Take a stand and pick one!

Oh, and Jackie: Thanks for a really great question; I hope this helps you address the issue in your community…

 

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The Turning Point of the Election

August 22nd, 2012 // 7:43 am @

florida state flag 300x200 The Turning Point of the ElectionBased on the current breakdown of the electoral vote, if President Obama wins Florida, he’ll win the election.

Governor Romney would have to carry every other battleground state if he loses Florida.

Similarly, if Romney wins Florida, he’ll take the election.

We’ve always known that the election would be determined by a few battleground states, but it has now come down to two states: Ohio and Florida.

And Ohio only counts if the candidate who loses Florida is able to win all the other battleground states.

It appears that as goes Florida, so goes the election.

Let’s consider a few thoughts about this.

First, while the 2012 Democratic Convention will be held in North Carolina, the Republican Convention will be in Tampa, Florida.

“All politics is local,” Tip O’Neill said, and the energy of the national convention in Florida is an advantage for Romney.

The popularity of Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio in the state also benefits the Republicans.

Second, however, Florida is a swing state precisely because it is too close to call.

There are at least three contested voting groups that both sides are courting: the Latino vote, seniors, and transplants from New York and New England.

All three have natural leanings toward the Democratic Party, and President Obama is a talented politician who knows how to effectively appeal to targeted constituencies.

Expect him to actively attract all three in the weeks ahead, and for the Romney-Ryan ticket to attempt the same.

Third, Israel could be a tipping point in this vote.

There is significant support for Israel in Florida, not only among conservatives but also from seniors and Northern transplants.

Washington insiders during the past week have been floating the rumor that Israel may be planning a military action against Iran—timed close to or during one of the 2012 conventions in order to give pro-Israel Romney a chance to speak directly in support of Israel and simultaneously make it more difficult for Obama to take a strong stance against the Netanyahu government.

Fourth, Obama handily won Florida in 2008, carrying a majority of the female vote and a large majority of minority voters.

The Romney-Ryan ticket is playing from behind in both Florida and Ohio, and the election may well be determined by which party organization generates the biggest voter turnout on November 6.

People typically have a sense about an upcoming election, based on the views and thoughts of those around them.

In red states, the overwhelming support for the Republican candidate convinces most that the election results are all but determined in their favor.

People in blue states are persuaded that the Democratic contender has a huge lead.

In reality, the election of 2012 could well come down to a few votes in a few Florida counties.

But before we have recurring dreams of hanging chads and the Supreme Court joining the election, we should remember that the one sure rule of presidential politics is to expect the unexpected.

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odemille 133x195 custom The Turning Point of the ElectionOliver DeMille is the chairman of the Center for Social Leadership and co-creator of Thomas Jefferson Education.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

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A Choice Election

August 15th, 2012 // 8:08 pm @

(And a proposal for a Cable TV Debate between Barack Obama and Paul Ryan)

romney ryan 300x214 A Choice ElectionWith the selection of Paul Ryan as the Republican vice presidential candidate, Mitt Romney turned the 2012 campaign into a Choice Election.

This is rare in modern times.

The norm has been for Republican candidates to stay centrist—this pattern was followed by Bush, Dole, Bush and McCain.

Not since the Reagan-Carter contest have we seen a true Choice Election, where the sides are clearly divided and both passionately appeal to their base instead of tacking to the center.

Senator McCain may have attempted to create a Choice Election in 2008 with his selection of Governor Palin as running mate, but it appears Ryan’s fiscal conservatism may resonate more with independent voters than Palin’s social conservatism.

Romney’s choice also signaled two departures from his campaign to date.

First, it was bold and risky, which hasn’t been his m/o so far in this election.

Second, it was a significant move toward a big, overarching vision of American greatness.

The Romney message isn’t yet Reaganesque, but it seems to be at least trying to head in that direction.

Ryan’s budget proposals in the past few years have made him a controversial figure, and his inclusion on the ticket may signal that Romney has decided to go all in.

The choice couldn’t be clearer: The Obama/Biden message is that an increasing number of people are dependent on government, and that Washington simply can’t let them down—therefore, it must raise taxes on the rich and increase regulation on business.

If it wins, it will finally be able to do this on the grand scale, in the U.S. and internationally.

This worldview considers government the arbiter of fairness and often feels that government jobs are more honorable than those in private enterprise.

The Romney/Ryan view is precisely the opposite: Free enterprise is the hope of the future and America needs to rekindle its belief in limited government spending, minimal regulation, and a more business-friendly environment that encourages private-sector economic growth.

This agenda affirms that Washington has a spending problem, and that government’s immediate focus must be getting our financial house in order and incentivizing business growth.

The common wisdom on the Right is that our nation is on the verge of significant decline, and that major financial and policy changes in Washington are desperately needed.

The Left generally feels that our economic struggles were brought on by weak government policies that allowed the “haves” to exploit the “have nots,” that far too many people are hurting right now, and that only government stands between them and even more widespread failure.

Here is how this all plays out.

Most conservatives will vote Republican, and most progressives will support the Democratic ticket.

As we’ve discussed in the past, the election will be determined by independent voters in the battleground states.

But the fact that this is now a true Choice election puts a different spin on the vote.

If independent voters in the swing states see America at a crossroads, on the verge of serious decline and in need of big, difficult changes to reboot our economy, create huge private-sector growth and compete with China, the Republican ticket will win.

Romney was clearly banking on this when he selected Ryan as his partner.

But if swing voters think the ideas of decline and a looming major financial emergency are overblown, they’ll opt for another four years of President Obama.

Most voters—Republican, Democrat and swing—generally support getting our fiscal house in order, but they don’t want to give up any specific government programs that benefit them directly (e.g. entitlement changes).

A Choice Election is emerging on two fronts.

First, as mentioned, one side wants to increase the size and scope of government to help more people in need, while the other promises to reduce spending, taxes, regulation and effectively revive the economy (whether it will actually do so once in office is a different topic).

Secondly, Republicans see an American electorate ready to take drastic steps in the face of imminent decline and the threat of our nation going broke, even as Democrats are betting that people are more concerned with maintaining their government benefits.

In short, one side sees Paul Ryan as an excellent choice and the other thinks Romney has made a fatal (if welcome) mistake with this selection.

The choice is stark, and only time will tell how independents in the swing states actually vote.

So far the Obama campaign has played the small game, focusing on Romney’s tax returns, offshore accounts, and attacks on his work at Bain, and now criticizing details of Ryan’s budgets.

Romney has opened a big issue campaign, and he will likely escalate with a full-blown vision of American greatness.

But Barack Obama has proven to be an able politician with an uncanny sense of timing, and savvy Americans expect his Carteresque tactics to evolve into a Clintonian crescendo in the weeks ahead.

President Obama frequently seems to bumble along, only to strike with a lightening success in things like passing Obamacare, taking out bin Laden, or making unexpected announcements that win him the loyalty of various groups from immigrants to women to supporters of same-sex marriage.

Expect at least two Obama surprises before November 6.

Indeed, three or four wouldn’t be shocking.

If Romney waits around and reacts to such surprises, he’ll get stuck on the defensive.

To win, the Republican ticket needs to go big, really big, as quickly as possible.

And neither side can afford to let the debates determine their momentum.

Frankly, I think I speak for most political watchers when I say there should be an Obama-Ryan debate.

It would be a top seller on Pay-For-View.

Charge $29.95 per watcher, have Chuck Norris and George Clooney moderate the event, and apply the profits to paying down the national debt.

The band One Direction can open for each debate, thus ensuring that nearly every home in America with young girls signs up and reduces our deficit.

Better still, hold three such debates Lincoln-Douglass style in the most contested battleground states.

Then have a fourth swing-state debate where Obama and Romney face off and we measure them against each other as the leaders of our future.

This last event will be high drama after the guaranteed fireworks of the first three.

This election is still up for grabs, but it is a very different election than appeared to be shaping up last spring.

The Supreme Court decision on Obamacare and now the Ryan selection have made it a real Choice, and an American crossroads is certainly ahead.

Whatever your political views, the stakes could hardly be higher.

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odemille 133x195 custom A Choice ElectionOliver DeMille is the chairman of the Center for Social Leadership and co-creator of Thomas Jefferson Education.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, and The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

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