I've been wrapped up in the final draft of Dragonseed during a time when there's been a lot of developments in the political world. I'm someone who takes pride in knowing what's going on in national politics, although at some point my motivation for following the news slipped from wanting to understand the world to wanting to be able to get the jokes on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me.
Due to my deadline, I haven't watched a minute of the Democrat's convention, nor did I take time to listen to McCain's announcement of Veep. I didn't even watch John Edwards creepy confession of infidelity, despite the fact that he's from NC and despite the fact that I have personal experience both with unfaithful spouses and cancer stricken partners. And, really, what is there to debate about the whole Edward's thing? Other than whether or not we made a mistake by getting rid of the stocks we used to lock people into on the public square so we could pelt them with rotting vegtables?
The Edward's thing did lead me to realize a very subtle distinction in public moral attitudes that I don't think I was aware of before. It's scandalous, though not always ruinous, for a politician to cheat on a spouse and stay with that spouse. On the other hand, if a politician cheats on a spouse, then dumps them and marries the new object of his affection, it's no big deal. McCain pays no price for cheating on his first wife because he dumped her. I think that American's are open to the storyline that someone can be married then meet someone new and fall in love, but are less forgiving of politicians who are just out chasing tail. Or maybe none of it matters anymore.
But I'm getting sidetracked. The title of this post is "Single Issue Voter," and it's my announcement that for the first time ever I'm giving serious consideration to not voting for president this time. I usually vote Libertarian, but I don't think I can vote for Bob Barr. This has almost nothing to do with logic... I just dislike the man personally. He flip-flopped on so many issues in order to become a Libertarian that I think it's legitimate to wonder about his sincerity. He now says marriage law should be left to the states, but in congress he was one of the authors of the Defense of Marriage act. I just feel like it's creepy for a man who's had three wives to be legislating anyone's morality. Finally, there's just something deeply disturbing about the fact that his mustache is a different color than his hair.
So, I may not vote in this election because as the years have gone by, I've drifted into the stance of being a single issue voter. The only issue I care about at the moment is the Federal debt. I have strong opinions on a zillion other issues, but the Federal debt is the monster issue that is eating up every other issue on the table. Our shared debt has turned us into a nation that is borrowing money in order to pay the interest on the money it's already borrowed. If a family household reaches the point where it's using credit cards to make payments on other credit cards, any intelligent person would agree that family is in serious trouble, and the first is most sensible advice you would give that family would be STOP BUYING STUFF YOU CAN'T AFFORD! Both Obama and McCain are running on platforms of tax cuts while at the same time talking about new spending, either military or domestic. Both of them make vague, laughable projections that sometime around the end of 8 years in office, their budgets will finally balance and they'll leave office with the nation poised for a new golden age.
Either McCain and Obama are idiots, or they are opportunistic sleazes who understand the problem but are instead committed to telling American's what they think American's want to hear: Everything's going fine! We'll give you more and take less! Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!
I talked to someone at dinner the other night who supports Obama and believes that Obama really does intend to balance the budget with higher taxes, and that he's only talking about tax cuts right now so that he can make it into office. I've heard a few Republican's say similar things about McCain, that they think he'll be a deficit hawk and be much more agressive with spending cuts than he lets on. There's something embarassing, I think, in supporting a candidate because you know in your secret heart that he agrees with you, and his public positions are just lies to appease the masses.
Even the libertarian position on the deficit/debt is a joke. They believe you can cut government services enough to get rid of taxes once and for all! Utopia! But, our debt is so large, you could stop all spending. Everything. No social security, no congressional salaries, no military... and you still couldn't pay off the public debt.
Not all debt is evil, of course. I've gone into debt to buy my house and my car. Debt is a useful tool for making big purchases. But, all the debt I've taken on, I have a plan and a budget to pay off. The US plan for debt at the moment is... keep borrowing more!
So, I will support the first candidate who obeys the law of holes: When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. How can you stop digging? 1. Freeze spending until we are back in the black. The country didn't fall apart at our present level of public spending this year. We can probably survive on the same level of spending next year, and the year after. 2. Stop cutting taxes. We actually collect a seriously impressive amount of money each year. And, we survived this year at our present level of taxation. It won't kill us to put up with it for another year or two. Since our present spending and taxation produce deficits, we wouldn't have a balanced budget, although due to economic growth we would eventually get there. After we stopped actively making the problem worse with tax-cutting and increased spending, we could then tinker at the edges to get us into the black. And then, this is important: We can't just balance the budget, we need to begin to run surplusses and keep running them for decades to pay down our debt.
Find me one politician who has a serious plan to stop digging, and I'll give him or her my vote.
Now, back to Dragonseed!