The Most Important Election In Our History; Not Really

Photo courtesy of dcJohn

In one week our country’s citizens will exercise their right to vote and elect someone President of the United States of America.  It’s been called the most important job in the world.  Millions of dollars have been spent advertising each candidate’s position, and attacking the positions of their opponent.  Some have threatened to leave the country is their guy loses.  Some have even threatened to leave the planet (I doubt many would miss them).  Others have threatened civil unrest, win or lose.  With such high stakes, it seems everyone is on edge anxiously awaiting the outcome.  Not me.

America Is Bigger Than Any One Man

The problem with the office of the Presidency is that someone has to have one heck of an ego to think himself important enough to even run.  That could be said of any high political office.  Sure, there are a few who run because they truly want to make a difference in the lives of others, but most of Washington is full of self-serving individuals content to keep up the status quo, bring pork back to their constituents, and constantly campaign for reelection.  Despite their shortcomings, America is still the model of freedom and democracy around the world, largely due to the ingenuity and perseverance of her citizens.   In other words, we continue to be successful in spite of politicians, not because of them.

Ronald Reagan once said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” Wise words.  You see, it is time we returned to a society of self-sufficiency, less dependent on our government to provide the basic needs we should be responsible for ourselves.   That’s not a call for complete anarchy, as I believe rules and regulations are important for a civil society.  However, those rules and regulations enforced by the federal government should be minimal.

God Bless the USA

We are blessed, no doubt about it.  We live in a time of unprecedented abundance, both in terms of material goods and opportunities.  Unfortunately, those freedoms are largely taken for granted, and in some circles they are even seen as a negative out of feelings of guilt that we enjoy success while citizens of other countries suffer.  We shouldn’t apologize for our success.  However, we should reign in our “irrational exuberance” for conspicuous consumption and learn to be more frugal stewards of our resources.  I should take my own advice here–as my own waistline has been a victim of such abundance!

We are blessed to have an all-volunteer military comprised of men and women willing to sacrifice life and limb for the freedoms we enjoy today, and for the safety of citizens worldwide unable to defend themselves from the rule of murderous dictatorships.  It is their sacrifice, and the sacrifices of their families, that have ensured our democracy for over two hundred years.  We have survived world wars, natural disasters, and terrorist attacks.  We have survived recessions, depressions and times of civil unrest.  We will survive this election.  We will continue to prosper regardless of the person occupying the oval office the next four years.

If you’ve made it this far into the article, I’m sure you are now expecting my official endorsement.  Sorry to disappoint, but I believe your vote is a personal matter, and I don’t want to influence your decision.  Besides, if you have been reading long and are well-aware of my strong fiscal conservatism, you can probably figure out who I’m voting for.  Then again, you probably can’t, because both parties have completely abandoned fiscally conservative ideals.

So my advice to you is to make an informed decision next Tuesday, not one based on the endorsement of your favorite actor, your parents, your pastor, or even your spouse.  Part of what makes this country great is the ability to express individual thought–and there is no greater opportunity to do so than next Tuesday.  Regardless of what happens, the sun will come up the next morning.  Businesses will open.  The markets will react.  And not much will change about your day-to-day life, as it should be.  You are ultimately responsible for your own success, so stop wasting energy worrying over politics, and start taking responsibility for your own happiness.


  1. I appreciate you talking about this subject without tinging it with a political bias. I’m sick and tired of hearing about people’s (often incorrect) beliefs on who should be the next president. Politics belongs on political blogs, conversations with your friends, etc. I’m sick of hearing about in the PF world and at work.

  2. Good Morning Jason…thanks for a GREAT Post! I agree with Writer’s Coin that lately everything seems to be an endorsement of some sort; part of me wants to believe that if you are smart enough to take Paris Hilton’s endorsement to heart, than you get what you deserve, EXCEPT then we all get what you deserve!

    I agree that you should think your own thinks (in a Seussical way!) and form your own plan. Determine what is closest to your ideals and your families needs and vote accordingly…seems so simple, I wonder why anyone feels the need to even know who Bessie the Elephant wants to be President?

    I know having been a government employee for the past ten years, we are our own worst enemy! IMHO, our biggest national shame is that we have dumbed down our society to the point that 1) we cannot think for ourselves and 2) we somehow have the mistaken idea that it is the government’s (collective) job to take care of me and mine. WRONG…I could rant this for hours, however, know that most of the readers here likely share my same belief that its not the job of gov’t, or else we would not be on this site to begin with!

    Anyway, thanks for a great reminder that we need to wake up and get engaged in this process and our lives in general! Hope your day is blessed! Time’

  3. I agree that the national election is important and we need to determine what is the right vote for each one of us. I also encourage your readers to really look at their local elections and get to know the candidates. I know we have several local elections that could change a lot in our town.

  4. Great post Jason. I’ll agree that financially and physically that we’ve never had it better. Spiritually, perhaps less so. I think we have gotten somewhat spoiled as a country. You are right. It is up to us to make our lives better. Let us take care of ourselves and help those truly in need.

    I first voted in 1968. Have seen good and bad presidents in that time. Some have disapointed my high hopes, and others turned out better that I expected. I’m a fiscal conservative/social moderate. So I can’t say either party fits my views very well these days.

    I will vote next week and hope for the best. Whether my candidate wins or loses, the country and my life will go on.

  5. Every election is important. But, I’m not sure how the media can say this election is the most important. I think other elections were more important.

  6. I’ll just go ahead and say it. We are no longer in a Democracy. We live in a democratic oligarchy. I’ve long thought that politicians work under the pretense of, “I’m smarter than you and better than you so I know what is best for you better than you do.” Many times they make the dumbest bills and laws that have nothing to do with what their constituents want. They also do not vote the way their constituents want. They no longer “represent” the people as their positions dictate. Rather they simply use armchair logic to figure out what is best for us without actually knowing how we live because they think they are better than us.

    @Curt, the media ALWAYS says that “this” election is the most important. They did it four years ago, four years before that and four years before that. They are really loving this one because it is a milestone for the civil rights movement in that a man who is special for his skin color has finally been nominated for the Presidency. Though the same people say that we shouldn’t look at the color of his skin — that does not make the man. Hm, doublethink?

    @FrugalDad, I think you’re a lot like me in that I actually consider myself a fiscally-conservative Libertarian. I didn’t think I was until I read what a libertarian stands for. I think you are too from what you say in your article, “…those rules and regulations enforced by the federal government should be minimal.” I completely agree. Government interference should be minimal except in cases when my actions infringe upon another person’s safety or rights. Neither party has these ideals in mind which makes this election more difficult than most. Why do we need more of the big government inefficiencies and spending that make our lives so wonderful already. Ever stand in line at the DMV or have to dispute a problem at school? Ever have to get a new social security card or passport? How about filing your taxes? Getting those things done are nightmares and people want MORE government control?? By the way, I do know how wasteful and uninspired the government can be, I’ve worked at offices at both the state and federal levels and the general incompetence and bad spending practices abound.

  7. You have chosen to focus in your post about the responsibilities of individual citizens, which i don’t disagree with. But you’ve ignored one very big part of “the problem” in America today: the greed and avarice of corporate America, including, of course, the financial institutions we rely on such as banks, credit card companies and brokerage firms.

    Sure, people need to be able to restrain themselves from going on a spending binge, but if you’ve got a credit card company which imposes interest rates in excess of 25%, has narrowed the grace period to about 3 weeks and hits you up with steep late payment fees if you’re even hours late, then we need to regulate these guys.

    Banks that offer sub-prime mortgages to someone making $30,000 a year should be put out of business.

    As Alan Greenspan acknowledged, self-regulation DOES NOT work, and in a capitalist system greed will always trump doing what’s right. And that’s what’s wrong with America.

  8. @fern, ok let’s go over your points.

    Market self-regulation DOES work. The market had self-regulated just fine until the civil rights lawyers decided that somehow the minorities were being prevented from getting mortgages due to their race rather than their income. Our wonderful lawmakers decided to modify the Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Acts to make sure that even sub-prime mortgagees get a “fair shot”. This reached its peak in 1999 by Clinton and his administration when they had Freddie Mac and Fannie May tell the banks that they would buy back the mortgages if the people ever defaulted on them. Since the self-regulated risk factor was gone (the money lost from a sub-prime mortgagee not paying their bills), the market went wild. People bought houses and the house values went up. The bubble finally burst and those people who got in over their heads (thanks to FHEO’s loose lending stipulations) simply walked out of their houses. Freddie and Fannie then got the house deeds and basically went bankrupt because they had inflated the housing market in the first place by making it too easy for just anyone to get a house. The deeds were almost worthless since people will no longer pay the inflated prices. By the way, the ability to buy a house is not a right — it is an earned privilege. If you don’t think so, you do have the right to go and build your own. By the way, those banks that DID get in over their heads are now paying for it. That is what market self-regulation is.

    Credit cards don’t take any more advantage of people than people let them take. They do not simply sign you up, add debt to your bill and then expect you to pay it. It does not magically appear. If you do not know how it works, then that is your fault. It is all detailed in the fine print before you get in. As with all law cases, ignorance of the law does not mean anything. You are still guilty if you broke it. If you are caught speeding, do they let you off if you say that you didn’t know what the speed limit was? Try it and let me know how that works for you.

    Here’s a little tip for your life, make sure to read each and everything you sign your name to. If it is important enough, they can wait for you to read it before you sign it. Go in with your eyes open and take responsibility for your actions. I know I’ve learned quite a bit when I started doing this. It helps a lot.

  9. One thing I’ve always wondered is why people think the President has any control over the markets or the economy. He has about as much control over it as we do. Congress is the one that creates the bills and passes them into law. The President only vetoes what he doesn’t agree with though that can be bypassed by a 2/3rds majority in both houses. He does write some bills, but they can get shot down by Congress anyway. So what effect does the Office of the President have on the economy?

    Though the budget is supposed to be designed by the President, they usually just modify what came before anyway. Again, only with the approval of Congress. So again, what affect does he have on our personal spending, the spending of those companies we work for or the spending of other countries that pump money into our economy?

    I’ll thank anyone who can come up with a straightforward answer to that question.

  10. It is true that our country is bigger than just one man, but you should understand that one man can affect the outcome of our country. Look what President Bush has done to our country. He has literally spent trillions of dollars on a war that is still going on as we speak.

  11. Sorry Donny, not trillions but billions. About $566 billion which is actually less than the bailout money that Congress approved to those lame duck enterprises (with a good chunk of the money going to Freddie and Fannie) that backed poorly decided loans to sub-prime borrowers. Bad Congressional spending (usually brought about during better times, i.e. the boom of ’97-’99) has wasted far far more money than the war in Iraq could ever spend. (Source:

    Also, as I understand it (and remember it) the war in Iraq wasn’t just called to by one man. About 373 other people (out of 529) voted to go to war with Iraq in October of 2002. They along with the CIA and the armed forces in the Middle East area all agreed that attacking Iraq was in our nation’s and our allies’ best interest. Since the resolution was passed by more than a 2/3rds majority in both Houses, Bush could have wanted to veto it and it would have passed anyway.

  12. @Donny: DavidK is correct. While the president can make the case for war, declaration and funding must be provided by the Congress. I certainly haven’t agreed with everything Bush has done, namely his lack of veto for pork-laden spending the first seven years, but to blame him for all our country’s ills is to forget that it is Congress who is the legislative engine running (into the ground) things in Washington.

  13. Whats funny really is for 2 years the congress has said it has a mandate to end the war–and though they have enough votes on their side of the aisle to do it–they have not cut the funding for it. I wonder about that. Maybe secretly they know we should be there? Maybe they just want the votes from the anti-war folks but don’t really believe this is only Bush’s war like they are always saying.

  14. I love the quote from Reagan! Those are scary words indeed. I hope I never hear them personally. You have handled this topic expertly.

    We are truly blessed in this country and I agree that it is bigger than any one man. Thanks for the perspective!

  15. It wasn’t civil rights lawyers who said that minorities deserved mortgages. It was the bankers becus they wanted to make even more money. That’s why i said they need to be better regulated.

    Credit card companies discloses all the ifs, ands or buts, but they do it in tiny mouseprint and in legalese language which even a college graduate would have trouble understanding. Seriously, how many people bother to read it? I would guess very few. Ignorance of the law may not be an excuse, but in the case of credit card companies, the law unduly favors the card issuers and have done so ever since 2 key US Supreme Court decisions to “deregulate” the industry back in the 80s, effectively removing any cap on interest rates.

    Just becus it’s a law doesn’t mean it’s fair and just. there are many bad laws on the books.

  16. Too much politics and too close to my bedtime I think I’ll save my comments for another post. 🙂

    BTW the WSJ has opinioned several times that the underlying cause of the whole crisis has been a policy of too much easy money for too long.

    Fortune recently did an article that stated (and gave it, surprisingly, a positive spin) that the era of small government and deregulation has come to and end. The era of big government is back with a vengeance.

    Lastly if you guys would spend some time over at Paul Krugman’s blog, maybe you’d stop spouting such ridiculous crap. He calls it the voice of a liberal but I think he’s far more conservative in his thinking than he lets on, and certainly more conservative than anyone in the current administration.

    Lastly I’d like to see a president elected who will uphold actually uphold the constitution.

    Regardless the the neocon movement has run it’s course and it’s last legs regardless of who wins.

  17. I knew I should of gone to bed.

    @David K, Fern Americans are in debt and aren’t saving enough for a very simple reason and this quote from here puts it much better than I could.

    Whitehead writes eloquently about the powerful array of anti-thrift institutions that have made it difficult for middle- and lower-income Americans to save

    How true it is

  18. Rob in Madrid: That’s quite a presumption, and it happens to be wrong. The only debt I have is a $68K mortgage. I am on track to paying off a 30-year loan in 20 years and will be done with it in 7 more years. I pay all my credit cards in full each month. I also intend to retire “early,” in 11 more years.

    So please dont leap to conclusions, or you may end up in the deep end of the pool.

  19. Thanks for keeping things civil–I was afraid a politically-charged post might get things off track.

    @Fern: Congrats on debt freedom (other than your house). We share a goal of early retirement!

  20. Nice to see a fairly unbiased (at least it wasn’t showing) straight forward editorial. CNN, NY Times, and the other media could take a lesson from you on being unbiased in reporting…. Ya, like that’s gonna happen 🙁

    @Fern… not all of us making under $30,000 are bad risks for debt. Maybe you should amend that to those with non-excellent credit and no down payment. I got a first time homeowners low income loan in 1996 for my prior house, on $20,000 worth of income, excellent credit, and 10% down – and had the 30 yr loan paid off in under 10 years 🙂 It’s the person and not the numbers that tell the tale.

    @Rob – Don’t judge all americans by that article 🙂 I’m debt free including my house, and have my retirement all saved up for – and have only made more than $20,000/yr for 3 years of my earning career. All the rest have been $20,000 or less. It can be done 🙂

    Good post. Good debates! Fun!

  21. My point was that over the last 30 years Americans have gone from having institutions to encourage thrift to ones that encourage overspending, that along with easy money has created the mess were in. The good news in all of this is that Americans are learning to save again, and inspite of all the doom and gloom about the credit crisis is that the feared trillion dollar deficits will be funded by Americans learning to save again.

    Unfortunately the point between that and where we are now will be a long and painful recession.

  22. I’ve been following elections for as long as I can remember and the one thing that has surprised me is why the Dems can’t figure out that America is a centre right not centre left country. Unfortuanatly regardless of who is in goverment next week both parties have learned that big goverment is loved by voters everywhere.

    Barack Obama is one the most liberal politics to stand a real chance of winning in a long long time. I tend to be liberal but he’s even too liberal for me.

  23. I try not to worry or freak out about who is going to win next month, God is in complete control.
    I do think that God blesses the USA but it appears that we are slowly kicking him out of our country and that means it may not be as blessed as a whole.
    ~The Bargain Shopper Lady

  24. As the wife of a presently deployed soldier I loved this post! I couldn’t agree more. I hope you don’t mind, I linked here from my blog. If it is a problem just let me know and I’ll remove it.

  25. I find this post slightly irresponsible. I wouldn’t say this is the most important election – EVERY election is important. That is because we aren’t just voting for a president, but also members of Congress, perhaps State officials, and local and municipal officials. All of our elected officials do indeed have an effect on our lives, even if they aren’t the sole deciding factor.

  26. The hype is so high for Obama (assuming in the likey event he wins) that he is sure to disappoint. The biggest problem I see besides that is that with the Dems clearly in charge they will quickly forget that America is centre right country.

    On the other hand perhaps America will wind up with Universal Healthcare (aka socialist medicine)

    who knows

  27. I will attempt to keep this comment in the civilized tone of the original post. I wish there were a term that described more accurately the minimal use of government services/funds. Self-sufficiency is not really accurate; I suppose libertarian comes closer, possibly Amish is the most accurate.

    I am one of those who is delighted to see the outsize interest in this election; I find voter apathy to be disgraceful. The history/battles over enfranchishing our citizens matters. The evidence from other countries that disenfranchise a significant portion of their citizens or coerce the election results cannot be minimized.

  28. I agree, America is bigger than one man. But that one man just happens to be able to shape its future in many significant ways including altering its economy and foreign relations (creating wars, taxing people to death, spending itself into bankruptcy, or conversely, doing nothing). People are now looking for government to “save” them. People forgot what the governments true job is, and now people want a government to interfere in every part of their lives. So it will be. Government didn’t make America great, the people did. Government just created an atmosphere to allow people to flourish… but other countries can replicate that atmosphere and lure away successful, educated, hard working (and sometimes rich) folks, and smart corporations along with capital… Don’t even pretend corporations and people can’t leave the United States if the government starts to create a difficult environment to thrive, especially with some taxes above 50% proposed, which is too socialistic for my taste. Money can leave the country faster than people and corporations, so don’t forget it…

    “Besides, if you have been reading long and are well-aware of my strong fiscal conservatism, you can probably figure out who I’m voting for. Then again, you probably can’t, because both parties have completely abandoned fiscally conservative ideals.”

    I couldn’t agree more. What happened to balancing the budget by cutting government spending?!?! The Democrats are socialist and the Republicans are Liberal!!! Instead of cutting government spending, they want you to cut your spending through taxation so they can spend… Or they don’t plan on dealing with the budget deficit and their plan is to grow our way to balanced budgets… like that works anymore considering how many promises they must make to win an election! Geez… Both candidates show a lack of leadership in America is prevalent. Yeah, sure, Obama could win a popularity contest and promise to be everyone’s friend and give something to everyone, but leadership is an entirely different matter… Leaders command respect, they don’t buy it or say anything to get it.

    When Obama wins, be prepared for higher taxes, and in some cases certain taxes will be above 50%… See how that will work for the economy. Also, while we’re at it, let’s give out social programs to everyone who hasn’t earned it, and stick it to all the successful people. In fact, let’s tax corporations so badly that some decide to pack it up and move their headquarters elsewhere – to a country that doesn’t utilize such harsh class warfare and blame the rich for all their ills. – It draws some real similarities to what a certain German (hint: last name starts with an H)once did with respect to blaming all the problems on one segment of society that also happened to consist of rich businessmen… Hmm. This is just the 21st century non-rascist, politically correct way to wage class warfare… blame the rich, the greedy corporations, and the oil companies for everything… “It’s us versus them!” Instead of, “We’re all in this together, let’s think of a rationale way we can ALL fix the problems without pointing fingers and placing the blame on one class or another.”

    But hey, let’s try it Obama’s way. Then when the middle class least expects it, lets increase the capital gains taxes, dividend tax, and inheritance taxes(55%!)… all while saying that none of the tax increases will affect the middle class… BS. Obama’s plan is to tax the rich and give to the poor, but he won’t stop at just the rich because many of the effects will reach well into the middle class. Robin Hood is President, but he’ll be robbing middle class employers to give to the unemployed/underemployed, not the middle class (which the poor want to become eventually), and the middle class is going to feel it when their employer gets squeezed for cash! Most corporations don’t object to pay a fair tax, but when you single them out and apply above 50% tax rates on them… well, c’mon… persecution is not fair.

    Oh well, you get what you deserve, you reap what you sow. If you sow nothing, you will reap nothing.

    Democracy is the the best system on the planet – but only when the population is informed, educated and logical. Democracy can be a joke when it is manipulated/controlled. Liberal controlled media and school systems control America’s future because they influence the very people that are America’s future.

    And what’s with the education system not having a “finance/economic” class in addition to math? Our entire economy runs on money and no one seems to understand the economy! Every citizen must manage his/her finances, but without financial knowledge, there is less power and planning for the future. Argh.

    Oh well. Keep praying for Obama to knock on your door and solve all your problems. Good Luck. Just remember, in his infinite wisdom, several years ago he sued citibank to force them to give out sub-prime loans to a certain community, as per the legislation in the community reinvestment act. Smart man – force banks to give out sub-prime mortgages… but he was just “helping”. Oh, he may be intelligent at gaining popularity and delivering speeches, but “change” needs to be defined with a clear and precise plan… Let’s face it; the devil is in the details. We all want the same thing, a better country, but we have much different views on how to get there.

    ALso, whats with this Republicans versus Democrats… That entire system isn’t helping things. We’re in this together and we want the same end-goals… a vibrant, rich, healthy, productive country with no-one left behind. People will be left behind if they aren’t productive, it’s just apart of life. Yes, we can give them some food and help them out, but we can’t buy them each a golden toilet and big screen tv and a brand new SUV…

  29. Your Vote Does Count!

    I got an interesting email from my Dad the other day. Ever since we moved overseas I’ve made the point of always voting. Since ours is a safe liberal riding (long term incumbent) there is no real reason for me to go to the effort of voting but I do. Generally speaking I vote for fringe parties as I expect our candidate to win re-election.

    But this year I decided to do something I often criticize Americans for. I voted for governing Conservative party because they are bible belt social conservatives, at least as much as you can be in liberal Canada.

    So imagine my shock when I got the following email from Dad

    Hi Rob:
    your vote was counted
    after the recount the conservatives won by 17 votes



    Actually it was 2 votes as I voted on behalf of my wife (mail in ballot)

  30. Great post. It was refreshing to hear that our country is great. It seems like everyone in the media and politicians have been telling us how bad our country is and how we need to change it. Have they been to other countries? We live in a pretty great place!

    I was also glad to see that you didn’t endorse a presidential candidate! It’s true, voting is personal, and we all have the right to vote. We should make up our own minds and not base our decision on what everyone else is telling us.

    Thank you for a great post, and an excellent blog! I will definitely be coming back to read more!

  31. This is one time where I disagree with you. America faces challenges that rival that of the great depression. The deleveraging process will long and very painful enough in it’s self. Greatly compounding all of this is the fact that 75 million credit card maxed out baby boomers are retiring and are expecting the Government to step up to the plate and keep them in style there accustomed to.

    It’s going to take all of Obama’s great skills as a orator to rally the nation to the great challenges. At the best of times it’s hard to convince Americans to cut back, this time you asking them for far more. To pay far higher taxes for far less goverment.

    Obama will either going down as another Regan or a Jimmy Carter, there won’t be an in between.

  32. Let me add that the Regan revelution began and ended with 9 words. I think you all know what started it, but what ended was

    Brownie you’re doing a heck of a job.

    GOOD RIDIDENS BUSH, you won’t be missed