Which Brain Will Choose Our Leaders?
In the very late 20th century, Muppetmaster Jim Henson combined "The Flintstones" and "The Simpsons" to create the live-action TV costume comedy "Dinosaurs."
One episode featured a lead character, Earl Sinclair, telling his wife, Charlene, played by Sally Struthers (Archie Bunker's daughter), that he was going to run against the former George Jefferson, Sherman Hemsley's character, B.P. Richfield, for the office of tribal chief elder.
In preparation for his televised debate, Earl admitted he knew nothing about war or taxes. But Earl was also told that ignorance was not a political liability. No matter the question, his handlers suggested, Earl was to respond only by uttering loving remarks about his family and his dog "Checkers." Earl won the debate.
Until the designation of Paul Ryan for vice president, this year's race for chief executive was similar to that between Earl Sinclair and B.P. Richfield. The candidates said something about everything, but it amounted to almost nothing. Both Romney and Obama promised to cut the federal deficit, but were never specific as to what would be cut, other than taxes used to pay for the programs they promised would not be cut.
If Martians sent a probe to Earth rather than the reverse, the probe would report back that U.S. voters were most interested in whether Vice President Biden correctly predicted that Mitt Romney would enslave Sasha and Malia.
All this is why both Democrats and Republicans should applaud the selection of Ryan as Mitt Romney's running mate. He is revered by conservatives and vilified by liberals, all because he outlined with specificity his position on taxes and debt. He stated where dollars would be spent and precisely which government workers would have to look for new jobs.
More important, he stated precisely what "pork" would be no longer produced with publicly purchased feed.
Now, it is accepted veterinary science that telling pigs about their future in the barbecue pit causes them to squeal. Rumor has it the president's campaign aides were recently seen at Spivey's Corner, N.C., learning the latest hog-calling techniques to refill their depleted campaign trough with support from those who rely upon government bacon.
I understand why most candidates do not actually say what they believe or get specific about what they will do. If a handler lets a candidate speak his mind, the public may discover that it does not want that mind on the public payroll.
For instance, when left to speak his own message, Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin spoke about "legitimate rape." And Vice President Biden tried to incite racial hatred.
For the rest of this campaign, both Akin and Biden will never answer a direct question. If Biden remains on Obama's ticket, we will hear about his son Bo.
Akin will likely buy a dog.
Unfortunately, voters get what they demand. Democrats need to answer the Ryan budget passed by the Republican House of Representatives with a budget passed by the Democratic Senate, a specific task they refuse to complete. To the extent that the public tolerates Democrats who counter the in-depth Ryan budget with commercials about the dead wives of factory workers, we get results based only upon gossip.
This means we elect leaders by emulating schoolchildren running to the teacher when little Harry Reid tells a fib about young Mitt's milk money, using a technique taught him by an older boy who long ago graduated, Joey McCarthy. The selection of Ryan not only sets up a left-right question for the ballot, it also places before voters a "left brain" and "right brain" enigma.
Are America's problems best solved by discussing Ryan's shirtless "six-pack" or by discussing more boring issues surrounding debt and war? Whenever a politician calls for budget cuts, Americans must demand to know the exact cuts proposed. Will Head Start be cut? Navy ship construction? How much revenue needs to be raised to pay for the politicians' pork? How much do I have to pay?
And we then must demand that the questions actually be answered. Only by doing so can we discover the flaws in both Republicans and Democrats. Only then can we make our choices based on the ability to govern instead of the ability to breed cute children or care for a dog.
Robert M. Levy is chairman of the Moore County Republican party. Contact him at Law52@prodigy.net.
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