Thursday, April 24, 2008

Works and Days: Ten Things a Candidate Might Promise

I've avoided politics on this blog for over four years, as a matter of policy, but I have to agree with all of these points by Victor Davis Hanson (abridged):

What we want to hear.

The budget: "...we need a candidate not only to outline a balanced budget, but one of surplus that will pay down the debt as well, and by spending cuts rather than tax increases."

Immigration: "For now simply reduce the number of illegal arrivals to zero—through border fencing, more patrolling and manpower, employer sanctions, and stern negotiations with Mexico. Then as we squabble and fight, the number of foreign nationals or those not assimilated will begin to shrink in a variety of ways—once it is not growing. "

Iraq: "Explain Iraq in blunt terms—that the first war against Saddam was won, but the second, more important one against radical Islam is still being won in the heart of the caliphate. ...A viable prosperous free Iraq is the worst nightmare of al Qaeda—but why and how needs to articulated daily."

Race: "No more “conversations on race” but simply an end to identity politics. Americans are worn out with racial tribalism."

Taxes: "Some simplification of the tax code. Americans can’t figure out their taxes. When in their 50s some of them finally make good money, more than 50% go to taxes while they are demonized as “the wealthy”—even as the mega-wealthy either pay on “income” as capital gains at 20%, or are so embedded in corporations that their expenses are taken care of as business deductions."

Fuel: "We don’t need to be “energy independent”—as opposed to cutting our appetite for imported oil by 5-6 million barrels per day. Would it help if someone said, “Ok, either drill in Anwar, or cut sales of SUVs by 10% per year,” or “Drill off the coast and build nuclear power plants, or have gas at over $5 a gallon—your choice”?"

Colleges: "How universities have been able to up their tuitions consistently above the rate of inflation, while exploiting part-time, poorly paid contractual faculty, and masquerading all the while as liberal institutions are among the great mysteries of the modern age."

Health Care: "Simply mandate, as in the case of car insurance, that everyone buy catastrophic health care plans, and use health saving accounts for everything else."

Infrastructure: "The objections to government spending revolve around redistribution, not construction. We need a slash in entitlements and more investment in bigger, better, and more roads, rails, and airports."

National Security: Talk honesty about terror and national security. Why can’t a candidate say—“We will monitor what we think are terrorist calls routed through the US. So do you think this is right, or an abject violation of your privacy?” And instead of “Close Down Gitmo!”, one might say, “We prefer to have about 400 Padilla-like trials instead”. Or we could say, “No water boarding and we will take our chances that what damage a terrorist might do is overshadowed by the damage we will do to our reputation.” I don’t think Americans quite know what they want, but they are very tired of being told the question is black/white, win/lose rather than a mess where each answer poses another question. Treat us like adults, and let the public back a candidate who apprises them of the costs and benefits and risks, instead of either mouthing “police state!” or “a nuke will go off!”

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