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The Turning Point of the Election

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

Based 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 Egypt, Freedom, & the Cycles of HistoryOliver 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 &Current Events &Featured &Government &Politics

A Choice Election

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

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

With 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 Egypt, Freedom, & the Cycles of HistoryOliver 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 &Current Events &Featured &Government &Independents &Leadership &Politics

Shakespeare Goes to School?

August 13th, 2012 // 1:41 pm @

David Brooks wondered (The New York Times, July 5, 2012), what would Shakespeare’s Henry V have become as a leader if he had attended a current typical American school?

He wouldn’t be trained to fulfill the potential of his natural leadership abilities, he’d be cited for safety violations, suspended and labeled.

Whatever the label, he’d almost certainly be herded into a specific group and kept there year after year.

Brooks wrote:

“The education system has become culturally cohesive, rewarding and encouraging a certain sort of person: one who is nurturing, collaborative, disciplined, neat, studious, industrious and ambitious.”

In short, the kind of student who would make the most zealous Tiger Mom proud, the kind student who will grow into what C.S. Lewis called “Men Without Chests” and spending their lives on what author Sandra Tsing-Loh called “high-class drone work.”

In fact, such drone work has become the most widespread new definition of success in the corporate world.

We shouldn’t be surprised with this result.

After all, our education system in the Western world are perfectly aligned with this goal:

“Achieve, but don’t stand out too much. Succeed, but don’t alienate those around you. Fit in, be a team player, don’t rock the boat, impress the adults and you’ll get accolades, scholarships, and career success.”

The fact that in the new economy such attitudes are more likely to get Johnny or Mary a pink slip than a corner office is ignored by many parents and teachers.

And the reality that entrepreneurial success has a much higher probability of propelling Tommy or Sally to a higher standard of living than his or her parents, and in fact that this is the only thing likely to do so, is virtually never taught—except by two groups, parents who are successful entrepreneurs in their own right, and parents who are successful professionals.

Many such professionals now see that the medical, legal and other historically top-earning sectors are changing in ways that will end their run as upper-middle-class bastions of upward social mobility.

 

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odemille 133x195 custom Egypt, Freedom, & the Cycles of HistoryOliver 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 &Culture &Current Events &Education &Family &Leadership

A Different View

August 13th, 2012 // 12:54 pm @

In a stunning reversal of the common wisdom, a leading voice in the United States is arguing that Iran should be allowed to pursue and get nuclear weapons.

And the person making the argument isn’t Ron Paul.

This view comes from long-time international relations expert Kenneth Waltz.

His idea, and the case he makes for its implementation, was published in the influential journal Foreign Affairs (July/August 2012).

As such, it has a real chance of gaining support in Washington.

Waltz says that there are four possible outcomes to the Iranian nuclear crisis.

One, diplomacy and sanctions could convince Iran to stop seeking nuclear capability.

Two, Iran might obtain nuclear power but not weaponize, like Japan.

Three, Iran might continue developing a bomb and eventually obtain it despite opposition from the U.S. and Israel.

All of these are unlikely because, as Waltz argues, Iran doesn’t want to give up this project, non-weaponized nuclear power could be quickly converted to weapons, and at some point Israel or the U.S. is likely to use force to stop the Iran bomb project.

A fourth option would be to support the Iranians in gaining nuclear capacity.

Waltz says this would stabilize the Middle East by creating a Cold-War style balance between Israel and Iran.

He points out that China, India and Pakistan all became “more cautious” after going nuclear.

I’m not a fan of this view, but I think a lot more regular Americans need to study the issue and make their opinions felt.

We have left international affairs to the experts for far too long.

Read Waltz’ article, and see what you think.

Then study the topic and start sharing your views.

It’s time for regular people to get much more involved in influencing what America does around the world.

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odemille 133x195 custom Egypt, Freedom, & the Cycles of HistoryOliver 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 &Current Events &Foreign Affairs

Two-Decade Teens

August 13th, 2012 // 12:24 pm @

With more and more college graduates returning home to live with their parents, many adults are becoming frustrated with the rising generation.

In the book Slouching Toward Adulthood, Sally Koslow shows how this trend is the natural result of the last two generations of parenting.

The problem is not so much the slumped economy and high unemployment, although these are realities, but the fact that using student loans to get through college is now the norm, so when students graduate they are loaded with debt and many can’t afford rent.

Even more difficult, the Boomer generation tended to bring up their children with an attitude that left little room for the lessons learned from failure.

This was mixed with a strangely controlling approach to scheduling and achievement.

As reviewer Judith Newman wrote in People  (July 9, 2012):

“Recognize that channel-surfing, chips-snacking lump on the couch? It might well be your adult child. Koslow writes wittily about the infantilization of American youth as increasing numbers treat getting a job and moving out as just an option. The solution? Stop trying to inculcate our kids against failure, for starters.”

Over six million adult children now live with their parents, pay no rent, eat without limits from their parents’ fridge, and use the house, yard, cable and computers without paying for them.

Many consider their parents an ATM.

Moreover, very few of them are out actively seeking employment.

The irony, Koslow notes, is that most of these adults were raised in a culture where they were constantly told they were special.

The result is that they value having fun with friends, want to travel extensively, and look down on working for the money to pay for their lives, hobbies and interests.

Many of the generation see themselves as free spirits, but unlike the sixties generation they want the expensive yuppie lifestyles of freeloaders.

As Diedre Donahue put it in USA Today,

“The adults aren’t helping. Koslow believes parents often infantilize their adult children because it makes parents feel needed. The result: entitled but incompetent children and exploited but enabling adults.”

As if that’s not enough, the new generation of adultescents “…crave attention and often cash from parents, whom they frequently ask to help them move from place to place; create a mess; rack up debt…”

Then, all too often, they blame their parents for their plight, anxiety, and lack of opportunity.

Of course, this doesn’t describe the entire generation, or even a majority of them, but it does accurately depict far too many.

This new adultescent trend, as Koslow calls it, doesn’t show any likelihood of slowing in the years ahead.

If anything, it will likely increase.

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odemille 133x195 custom Egypt, Freedom, & the Cycles of HistoryOliver 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 &Culture &Current Events &Economics &Family &Generations

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