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What Kind of Country Will the United States Be Next Year?

(Eric Thayer/The New York Times)

Mitt Romney has picked Congressman Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate. Whoopee! Conservatives say this is a game-changer, while liberals are licking their chops and going on offense.

I’ll save my invective; I don’t see a need for it today. My sturdiest observation is that now the voters get to choose what kind of country we’ll be. We can pick Romney, Ryan, Adelson, the Koch Brothers, an end to Medicare and Medicaid, the EPA and financial regulation; or we can choose Obama, Biden, George Clooney, Barbra Streisand, Obamacare, clean energy and Dodd-Frank.

I’m rooting for the blue team, but it should be a good game. It’s the Good Guys vs. the Bad Guys, no matter which side you’re on. We’ll all get to cheer the good guys and boo the bad ones.

Let’s hope the refs at SCOTUS don’t try changing the outcome again.

Coming off the bench, do you like Ayn Rand or Elizabeth Warren? Pick one.

Up to now the polls have shown Obama with a slight but clear edge, in the country as a whole and in each of the swing states. Unemployment is high and people seem to think Romney would be better at handling the economy. They like Obama better, though; they think he’s much more likable than Romney.

Almost 70% of people want to see higher taxes on the rich, like Obama does. Romney wants to cut taxes for the rich and raise them for you.

“Health care reform” as a concept is unpopular—but its component parts do win favor; insurance coverage for nearly everyone, no disqualification for pre-existing conditions, carrying adult children on their parents’ policies until the kids get older and can buy their own. People like those things, they just don’t like “Obamacare.”

They don’t like that Romney made his money buying up companies, laying people off, shutting down plants and moving them overseas. They don’t like that he doesn’t pay much in taxes, or takes a $70,000 deduction for his wife’s show horse. They don’t like that he has secret bank accounts overseas, but wants to be President here. Which is it, pal?

They don’t like his being a Mormon, but they didn’t like Jeremiah Wright either. So that’s probably a wash.

They don’t pay much attention to foreign policy; it’s “over there somewhere.” Some of them know that Obama ended the war in Iraq (more or less) and killed Osama bin Laden. And some know the war in Afghanistan is still going on, though no one can really tell you why. But by and large, people don’t really care—even though these wars, started by George W. Bush, have been tremendous drains on the national treasury, which a lot of people claim to be concerned about—the money, that is, not the wars.

We could save money by ending the war in Afghanistan.

Not many people know that Romney likes saber-rattling and threatening war with Iran. Nobody likes Iran, but neither can they find it on a map or tell you the difference between Iran and Iraq. Iraq’s the one with the Q in it; that’s about the level of our knowledge. Both of them are Muslim countries “over there” somewhere. Are Sikhs Muslims? Americans don’t know. Sikhs wear turbans, and anyway they’re all foreigners.

In short we’re massively ignorant in this country, and I find myself wondering, with such a stark difference between these candidates, which way we’ll end up going.

Will we finally see through Obama and find the socialist he really is? Or will we finally see through Romney and find an abusive capitalist who really couldn’t care less about anyone who isn’t a millionaire?

Will Adelson and the Koch Brothers succeed in buying the election? I wouldn’t put it past them, but on the other hand they haven’t so far. Adelson’s first choice was Newt Gingrich, who went over like a lead balloon.

This election will put to the test, once and for all, the conventional wisdom about democracy: namely, that you can trust the voters to make the right choice.

They didn’t in 2010; they didn’t this year in Indiana, when they voted out Senator Dick Lugar. But they did in 2008, I believe, when they voted for President Obama, a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate.

What we got from the 2008 vote was Obamacare—no small thing—and tourniquets to stop the economic bleeding. The patient hasn’t recovered yet but at least it didn’t die.

(I hated Lugar’s record on domestic votes, but support him on foreign issues. In his previous election Indiana Democrats didn’t even put up a candidate.)

The person I most trust on investments, John C. Bogle of the Vanguard Group, is a Republican who voted for Obama in 2008 and is going to do it again this time. Bogle makes sense.

Trust the voters? That’s as much a crapshoot as buying stocks and bonds.

My frank belief is that the USA isn’t a democracy anymore. We’ve become a plutocracy instead. But that’s an unfamiliar word to Americans, so we’re not riled up at all. (It means government by the rich.)

If I’m right, this is our last chance at a fair election. With all the billionaires lined up against him, if Obama can pull this out, then power still rests with the people, at least for awhile yet. I don’t think democracy will last much longer, but I don’t want to see it die before I do.

We face a moral choice this year, more than an array of policy choices, which every election presents. Do we idolize the rich and demonize the poor, or do we give everyone a fighting chance?

Do people get rich because God blesses them with wealth? Many religious leaders teach this. Jesus didn’t, he taught the opposite, but he’s not on the ballot this year—and I’m not sure he’d win if he were.

Romney’s crowd believes they’re rich because God blesses them—which means that anyone who isn’t rich doesn’t live right. That belief’s built right into Mormonism, and many Protestants and Catholics embrace it too.

I do not. To me, this is the most obscene photograph I’ve ever looked at.

That’s Mitt Romney, right in the front.

I ran it on dailyoffice.org during Lent, as an illustration of greed—one of the 7 Deadly Sins, you know.

It’s a promotional photograph for Bain Capital. It shows money coming out their ears.

Is that the kind of country you want to live in, where you elect a guy like that to rule over you?

Are dollars your God? Vote for Romney.

If God is your God, you cannot vote for Romney. You may not like Obama but you have to vote for him.

Who will win? I don’t know, but this election will determine what kind of nation we are forevermore.

I’m more optimistic about Obama than I am about the longterm future. I think we’ve already sold our souls to the devil, and that it started the day we traded “entertainment” for corporate brainwashing on TV.

Your cellphone is a tracking device. Big business wants to know where you are and what you’re doing at all times. Step out of line and the government wants to know too.

Your devices own you. You sold your soul already. Satan didn’t tell you the terms of the deal, but you didn’t ask. “Oh, look what this thing can do!”

Voting becomes less and less important than our daily choices. The guys who make money from those choices love this era we’ve entered. The rich get richer and you’re a chump.

People who live on the East and West Coasts know all these things, or sense them, but they don’t understand why “the heartland” doesn’t get it. Why, they ask, do non-millionaires vote Republican, against their own obvious self-interest?

Answer: people don’t pay attention anymore. They watch TV and soak up impressions. Obama is nice but “dangerous”; Romney is boring but “successful.”

Mostly they just vote the way their parents did. For “lesser offices” (no matter how important), they just vote the name they know.

They vote their emotions, which are mostly a product of TV.

Adelson’s putting $100 million into TV.

Obama may win this time, but I think the war’s already over. The United States got conquered by internal enemies, who work on a few streets in New York, Wall Street and Madison Avenue.

If Romney wins, we’re done. That’s what I think. So get yours while you can, I suppose. What else can you do when it’s “every man for himself”?

It’s human nature. There is no American Exception.

Love the one you’re with. While you can, anyway.++

Brigadier General Tammy S. Smith with her wife Tracey Hepner, a former Army captain. Smith just got promoted and is now the first openly-Gay general in U.S. history. Romney and Ryan would kick her out of the military, cut food stamps for the poor, and turn Medicare into a coupon program to limit health care for seniors and the disabled.

 

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