Friday, December 28, 2007

The Caucus is Coming! The Caucus is Coming!

The most common thing I hear about the current slate of Republican candidates is, "I'm not sure who I would vote for." (And some of my Democrat friends have the same concern.)

Many Iowans, I think, fail to appreciate our privilege and responsibility. The field has already been narrowed substantially by the time most state primaries occur -- because of early caucus results in Iowa and the first couple of primaries.

Some general observations:

Whomever is elected president will need to work with a deeply polarized congress. Congress is not about unity. In fact, divisions in congress are a key design element from the Constitution, to guard against dictatorships. But I think it is true that shallow political thinking is more rampant in recent years, amplified by the "instant" media and responsive to the shallow, selfish thinking of many US citizens.

The selection process for President uncovers lots of character issues. That's critical for selecting leaders.

I wish the process would give us more clues about the people that candidates would put into key cabinent and ambassador positions. It's a difficult question to ask, or for the candidates to answer. I'm sure they have their ideas about potential candidates, but pragmatically cannot share them.

All the candidates over-estimate what could be accomplished in the first year. I'm grateful for a government design that works across years, or else we'd be demanding new people in leadership every few months. This creates continuity.

Years of entitlement culture and extraordinary affluence have led to a large fraction of spoiled, surly citizens. Political candidates need their votes, so probably do not feel comfortable speaking plainly about painful solutions to difficult problems.

The economic pronouncements are often described as if the US operates outside the realm of supply and demand, or as if our connection to a global economy can be (and should be) manipulated in a one-sided manner to our favor.

There is a difficult tension that Americans need to explore -- trading off freedom and security. This is an important but practically unspoken issue for citizens today.

There has been much criticism of the current administration's diplomacy and foreign policy. (At least some is reasonable; no state can operate perfectly in the global environment.) But there is also a lot of naive discussion about solutions coming from a one-time face-to-face conversation, irrespective of past history. Dialogue is a process you do with people, not to them. And dialogue is very difficult from positions of political, economic, and particularly military strength.

"Faith talk" that gets good response in Iowa is unlikely to be as successful in all regions of the US.

While there is some range among the candidates, the range among the most-likely-to-be-nominated within a party is pretty small. The Democrats are concentrated around the 35-40 yard line, and the Republicans around the opposite 35-40 yard line. The small number of candidates not clustered here are not going to get the nominations.

And whom to vote for? Gotta pray! I'll have plenty of time if I don't watch the campaign ads or answer the phone.

1 comment:

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