Well, here America is at a Presidential Election which we are being told is probably the most important election in history, an election that will determine the entire future of the country, or my favorite, America is at a crossroads. Crossroads is an interesting term whose basic meaning is something actually very commonplace in our lives, an intersection, and let’s face it, short of four cars arriving simultaneously at a four-way stop, intersections are something we have down pat. But we all understand the hype and why it surfaces at almost regular intervals. We face these elections which are touted as overly crucial whenever the country seems to have lost its way according to a sizable segment of the population. The election being portrayed as the most important election of our lives is often the one coming after what many feel was a catastrophic or erroneous choice in the previous election or after a President who brought stability, calm, tranquility, and was not overtly active in office. Another condition is when we are faced with two somewhat unknown candidates from which to choose. The first election of a lifetime I remember, and I am once again about to date myself, was after eight years of President Dwight David Eisenhower and we were facing the choice between Vice President Richard Nixon, a lesser known and somewhat unlikeable politician, and the relatively unknown Senator John Fitzgerald Kennedy. The next hard pressed Presidential Election was immediately after the Watergate Campaign Investigation which had ended with President Nixon’s resignations and the first ever American President who was not elected taking office. This pitted Gerald Ford against Jimmy Carter with that choice leading to the next critical election which placed Jimmy Carter, who was perceived to have been in over his head in the office or President, against a well-known minor actor turned politician and former Governor of California, Ronald Reagan. And now, here we are at another overly-hyped Presidential Election, or maybe history will find that this election truly will have been of monumental proportions.
Another moniker being peddled for this election is that the next President will set the course for the United States for the foreseeable future. This little moniker has been used less when hyping an election and more often is something reserved for history to place as an appropriate label. Very few would argue that President Abraham Lincoln was such a President with his having been in office during the most tumultuous period of American history, the Civil War. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was also given this title if for no other reason longevity with his being elected four straight times to the office of President. And, needless to say, President George Washington earned that title as he set virtually every president as President for the country as the first, and only unanimous choice to be President under the Constitution (I have to put that in or somebody will feel compelled to point out that John Hanson was the first American President under the Articles of Confederation). But maybe it would be helpful to look at some of the two modern era Presidents who have been singled out above the others for unique praises and see exactly what bar the next President will need to clear to attain equal acclaim.
The first was President John Fitzgerald Kennedy and the other being President Ronald Reagan. What is so interesting about these two Presidents is, though coming from opposite political parties, their actions and driving principles were very similar. President Kennedy was praised as an exemplary model for a liberal Presidency while President Reagan was pictured as the mold for a populist conservative President. The reason these two Presidencies were so similar in their political philosophies yet came from presumable opposite ends of the political spectrum is more a comment on the difference in America 1960 and in America 1980. The twenty years in between these Presidencies was very likely one of the most pivotal in changing the entire definitions of the political landscape since the middle 1800’s. But if one takes a critical look and dissects these two men and their Presidencies one finds a great overlapping of policies and great similarities in style with the most glaring difference, other than their coming from opposing parties being their ages. A quick review of other similarities reveal they both espoused having a strong military and that having such ensured peace and blamed weakness as the situation that made for the start of wars. Both Presidencies made some of the largest tax cuts and both men gave the same reasons for cutting taxes, namely to stimulate the economy; and they both predicted the cuts would lead to higher revenues coming into government from taxes. Both men made for striking appearance as both were well spoken and had a flair along with great amounts of physical appeal. Both men were known for their quick wit and were seen to think quickly on their feet, as it is said. And likely most important, both men left lasting legacies and will receive great approval from history. Lastly, both men have been depicted as the quintessential mold for their respective parties that candidates still claim to emulate to this day.
So, is this coming Presidential Election going to be historic? Even more important, would either candidate be found by history to have changed and molded America in such deep fashion that it changed the direction of the country for years to come? Well, that all depends on which candidate wins in November. Both have the opportunity to be such a President. Mitt Romney has the potential to be the President Reagan of these times restoring the United States to a more traditional track while with a second term President Obama could very readily make good on his promise of “fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” Depending on your political outlook is your opinion of which of these choices is the better choice. Do the American electorate desire returning to our rogue, go our own way, rugged individualism where one must depend on themselves approach or are they in favor of a European style governance where the government is responsible for providing everything for everyone socialism with the emphasis on butter at the cost of having a robust military. This election, even if it does not prove to be anywhere near as pivotal as it has thus far been defined, will definitely provide two very distinct views for our path going into the twenty-first century. I have my doubts in labeling this year’s Presidential election cycle as being anywhere close to monumental as it is being made out to be. The next President would likely be given stronger note in history when written should President Obama receive a second term. I also doubt that a Romney Presidency would produce any radical changes during his time in office. I pretty much see Mitt Romney as a manager who makes fine tuning adjustments and is less likely to strike out in some bold new direction as much as he is likely to simply smooth out what already exists and make some fine tweaks to improve efficiency. On the other side, in Barack Obama there is a potential for a complete overhaul of the way government acts both on people personally and on the societal fabric. President Obama is far more likely to take great steps and plunge forward and hope for the best. Neither of these candidates is really much of a mystery to the American people. Most people have already likely made up their mind though they are not likely to tell that to pollsters. Talking about polling, the ones taken now are simply an attempt to make news where none actually exists. Neither side has even made their introduction to a campaign, let alone actually campaigned. The real race will begin in August with the two main Party Conventions. We may have already begun a national reaction to the Occupy Movement should there be anywhere near the return and realization of the goals those behind the scenes organizing and driving these demonstrations are calling for. That would be the only way to have a national discussion before the fall election sprint to Election Day. Our advice? Relax as the fireworks are still to come.
Beyond the Cusp