Thursday, September 6, 2012

COMMENTARY: Sorry, but this isn't the most important election ever


During each political election, you see some of the same things happen over and over again.

You see political attack ads. You see grand promises from both Democrats and Republicans. You hear lies from both sides.

In the past handful of presidential elections - dating back to the 2000 election between George W. Bush and Al Gore - there's been a new phrase dominating the media and campaign talking points.

"This is the most important election ever," or something like that. I can't get away from people who believe in this sentiment.

On social media, I see status updates littered with comments about how "Barack Hussein Obama's re-election would doom America" or how Mitt Romney and the Republicans would put African Americans "back in chains."

Here's a reality check - while important, this election is far from the most important presidential election ever.

Sorry to burst that bubble for you Republicans and Democrats out there.

I would go as far as saying this election is less important than the 2008 election. After all, in 2008, we were either going to have our first black president or our first female vice president in Sarah Palin. Either result would have made history.

Anyway, here are four reasons why the "this election is the most important ever" is just another lie you will hear throughout the campaign.

1. America has survived larger challenges than Mitt Romney or Barack Obama. 

America survived the Civil War. America survived the evils of slavery. America survived September 11. America survived Pearl Harbor. America survived presidential asssassinations and two World Wars. If America can survive a threat from Nazi Germany, it can survive a second term from Obama or a first term from Romney. I'm sick of this "vote for this guy or else the country ends" line of thinking. America is far greater than one individual and his presidency.

2. Study some history and you'll see the stakes in past elections were far more important. 

If Abraham Lincoln doesn't win the presidential election in 1864, winning the Civil War would have been tougher and keeping the Union together may have been impossible. If Thomas Jefferson and John Adams didn't practice a peaceful transition of power after the 1800 election, the American Republic may have died if the nation went into a second revolution.

If Thomas Dewey defeated Franklin Roosevelt or Harry Truman, both World War II and the Cold War may have been lost, as the Republican Party supported American isolationism at the time. If Dwight Eisenhower wasn't elected president, the Korean War could have been more bloody and Civil Rights could have been stalled for another generation.

If in 1960 Richard Nixon was elected president instead of John F. Kennedy and later on Lyndon Baines Johnson, perhaps Vietnam doesn't get out of control, as it was the Kennedy/Johnson ticket that expanded the war greatly.

In other words, saying the 2012 election is the most important ever would be insulting Lincoln, Eisenhower, Truman, Jefferson and George Washington, who of course was our first president. Lincoln's election alone resulted in the Civil War and I doubt that will happen here.

3. Like it or not, the economy can be out of the hands of an American president. 

In our global economy, one country's economic system collapsing could be a domino effect to other nations. What if the European Union fell economically? What if the Chinese economic machine had a hiccup or two? Even if you have the most conservative or most liberal president in office, the economy is out of their control. Even if we have the most perfect person in the Oval Office, the economy could crumble because of what happens in China, England, Germany and other countries. That's not to give presidents a complete pass - they can work to balance the budget and use policies to increase the strength of the dollar. But still, the economy can be out of control sometimes.

4. Neither party has taken responsibility for the state of the country - and thus we really don't have much of a choice. 

The last time the Republican Party controlled every part of government, the Bush Administration squandered a surplus, and in the process, nationalized the public education system with No Child Left Behind and expanded entitlement programs via Medicare Part D. Both sides have perfected the idea of spending a lot more money than we have. If Romney wins the election, I think it would be just like Bush and Obama - reckless spending with no courage to bring out the veto pin. Fun fact - in the last 11 years, the two parties have added around $10.5 trillion to the national debt. Both the presidency and Congress have been controlled by both parties during this time. While Obama and the Democrats have a huge hand in that, Republicans not accepting any of the blame is whitewashing history.

Both parties need to show some accountability and apologize for the deficit. They should apologize for the current state of the nation.

Yet, that hasn't happened yet.

If you look at the track record of both the Democratic and Republican parties at the national level, they're a lot closer than you would expect.