The field for President in 2008 is looking, well, the same as it has for the last twenty years. In other words, pathetic. Look at the contenders. Hillary Clinton, a well educated woman who speaks with a southern drawl when pandering to the right voters. Barack Obama, a man who has trouble with numbers, and belongs to the "do as I say, not as I do" branch of liberalism. Meanwhile, on the other side of the aisle, we have people like Rudy Guiliani, who is a RINO if I've ever seen one. John McCain's straight talk worked eight years ago, but now we've seen enough of him to know better. There are a lot of other candidates, but most of them are long shots. Now, even Newt Gingrich is talking about getting in the ring. What do all of these people have in common? Well, first off, I don't believe any of them. By that I mean, if they're telling me something, I don't know if I can actually believe that THEY believe what they are saying.
John Kerry was a perfect example of this. It's not that he was a flip-flopper, so much as he was a horrible panderer (hat tip to SNL.) It's an art form that the Clintons perfected.
George W. Bush ran a great campaign in 2000. He positioned himself as a real conservative... someone who would be more Ronald Reagan than Bush 41. But after six years, he's failed to live up to those claims. Ronald Reagan cut taxes because it was the right thing to do... the top marginal tax rate went from 70 percent to 28 percent during his term (although throughout most of it said tax rate was 50 percent.) George W. Bush also cut the top marginal tax rate... from 39.6 percent, to a current 35 percent. But I've always had the feeling that those tax cuts have a lot more to do with perception that actual economic reality. I mean, if you're really rich, the difference between 70 percent and 50 percent, or better yet 28 percent... that's HUGE. That's the kind of tax cut that changes behavior. But a 4.6 percent drop in taxes? It's just... Reagan appeared to cut taxes out of principle. Bush appears to have cut taxes because that's what conservatives do... or more accurately, that's what Ronald Reagan did.
So, I don't know, maybe the problem isn't that we picked the son of a former President. Maybe the problem is that we picked the wrong son.
This is going to sound ridiculous, I know. Especially coming from someone who voted for Bush in 2004. Especially coming from someone who would likely vote for Bush again (theoretically) if he ran against any of the Democratic candidates currently running. But there's a certain respect I have for people who actually have conviction in their beliefs. Maybe it's time to forget about the Bushes and the Clintons and reconsider the Reagans.
I'm not talking about Michael Reagan, the adopted son of Ronald Reagan, and a political conservative. I'm talking about Ron Reagan. He has said that because he is an atheist he is unelectable. But that's exactly the kind of candor that would get him elected. In fact, it's exactly the kind of candor he inherited from his father.
People didn't love Ronald Reagan because of his politics. They loved him because he was Ronald Reagan. He was straight and direct and he seemed to be kind. But most of all, he believed that what he was saying was true, and by that standard he was not a liar. I'm not sure that today's candidates could say the same.
Ron Reagan is not his father. He is liberal, for one. As President, he would enact policies that I can't say I would agree with. But you know what he is? He's straight and direct, and he seems to be kind. But most of all, he believes in what he says. You can tell. I'm sure he believes things that I don't believe.
And I think he is electable. I think he could run as a Democrat and attract many Republican voters who are looking for a fresh change. I think he could run as a Republican too, because the party could use some shaking up. We have stood behind our President and maybe that has been a mistake. Maybe we should rethink stem cells and the war on Iraq.
And most of all... I would vote for him. I would vote for him knowing that he does not believe what I believe. But that's why we have checks and balances. I would vote for him because I believe he ultimately IS his father's son. He would be thoughtful and kind, truthful and humble. He would be upfront and honest, and because he has seen his father stumble, he would perhaps be even better. And he would be wrong. I think he'd be wrong about public education. I think he'd be wrong about a woman's right to choose. But his father was wrong too. Aren't we all? What's more damaging to this country? A man who believes that we should not overturn existing abortion laws or a man who spends hundreds of billions of dollars on a misguided, bloody war?
I know he would probably never run. I know that part of his appeal is that he reminds us so much of his dad. (He does have his parents good looks, although I don't know where the ballet thing came from.) But I can't help it... I think he would make a great President. And you know what? I think his dad would have agreed.