Al Baensch

Presidential candidates speak as if almighty, while the Constitution balances power with two other branches of government. This relegates all presidential promises to something substantially less.

While the issues are fairly agreed upon, ideas for solutions are extremely polarized. We now have two bodies of voters too hot under their collars to discuss their views with one another constructively. The grass roots of democratic process have shriveled. Pundits tell us that the outcome, “the direction of the country for a generation to come,” will be decided by the yet undecided.

The central issue is the economy, and central to that is job creation. What is the boiled-down difference between the ideas of the two candidates?

The challenger sees the road to prosperity via diminishing bloated government in the service of business. He advocates stimulating free enterprise via lower taxes, deriding the other side as promoting socialism, leading to laziness and handout expectations that will bankrupt the country. He decries regulations as a hindrance to prosperity, and favors military spending over social outlay. Health care is best provided as a commercial commodity, ignoring that the market has made it twice as expensive as in any other modern society.

He sees our role in the world as dominant, aggressively shaping affairs to advance “American interests,” which translates to interests of our global corporations. As a successful businessman, he is well qualified to run government as an agency of big business. He puts a bit of gloss on his plan by pushing education and promises not to shove granny under the bus, but he won’t buy her a ticket either.

The incumbent believes that government should run the country. He wants business to work within refurbished regulations a corrupt Congress had discarded. He wants to stimulate the economy via funding of education, needed infrastructure, green projects, stopping wars and reducing the military. He wants to preserve most programs that help people with a hand up toward self-sufficiency, and fuel the economy on the consumer side.

He accuses his opponent of promoting unchecked capitalism at the expense of the middle class and the disadvantaged. His team saved the economy from the brink of deep depression and moved toward universal health care, which informed observers see as necessary to the health of the federal budget as it is to the health of our people. He cites signs of economic recovery as proof of being on the right track and wants four more years to prove it. He sees our role in the world like that of a big brother, rather than bullying on behalf of corporate interests.

In short, the rich and famous businessman challenger sees salvation in business, by business, and for business, promising trickle-down benefits for all. The lawyer/politician incumbent sees salvation in proactive government leveling the playing field, a fairer distribution of the wealth our economy generates, and wider opportunity for all. One is for top-down, the other for bottom up.

Bankers, CEOs, and members of Congress have set themselves up to skim billions off the economy, while tens of millions of the working class have no jobs, lost their homes, or cobble together a living with low-wage, part-time work.

Judge for yourself, but for me it boils down to the oldest game in town, Wall Street versus Main Street. We get to vote for one or the other. Neither candidate will deliver all he promised. Governmental process and the power of the special interest complex see to that. But one is of “them,” while the other is not. The viciousness of personal attacks proves it.

Think past the emotional hot button phrases saturating political dialogue today. Neither the issues nor the solutions are black and white, or red and blue. The best course is usually found toward the middle, in moderation, cooperation and compromise, the vital essence of democracy we forget at our peril.