The election of 2012 is said to be about our destiny as a nation. Indeed, we will have a clear choice between two men who have diametrically opposite visions for our destiny as a civilization. It’s equally important; however, to have a clear understanding of where we are today, both morally and politically, in order to appreciate the task, as voters, we have before us.
What sort of nation are we when we tell students they must incur debt to earn a college degree and we tell those that are dependent upon Social Security that they have to live on less money when companies like General Electric pay no income tax at all on the billions they make?
The current Republican frontrunner for President, Mitt Romney, earns 60 thousand dollars per day and pays less tax than many middle class families do. His tax rate last year was 13.9 percent. It is unconscionable that this occurs in our nation. Romney is certainly free to earn whatever he is worth. The argument here is with the taxation. Romney proposes a tax system that would lower his taxes even more if he were to be elected. And we have crumbling roads, teacher layoffs, and huge public debt and yet he wants to pay less. Compare that with Bill Gates or Warren Buffett, both very learned and wealthy men who understand what is required from them because they want to pay more.
In fact, recall the process that Senator John McCain went through to select a running mate in 2008 to oppose Barack Obama. He sifted through 23 years of tax returns on Mitt Romney and ended up selecting an unknown, Sarah Palin, to be his running mate. 23 years of tax returns! There must be something there to hide if Romney won’t release them now. Romney claims to understand the middle class and working class and well, all of us. But how can a man with Swiss bank accounts and accounts in the Cayman Islands really relate to regular everyday people. He can’t. That’s just the facts as they are known.
President Obama wants to raise taxes on the wealthy; those that make over a million dollars per year. He says they should pay 30 percent of their income in taxes. That’s only fair. And going further, they should forgo certain deductions like mortgage interest as well.
Most Americans agree with this. So what’s holding things up? Why not change the tax code now? Well, many in Congress, read Republicans, signed a pledge, you can read it at atr.org, which says, in part: “I will oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rate for individuals and business; and oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing the tax rate.”
It is a fact that since George H. W. Bush’s ‘no new taxes’ tax increase that Republicans have voted no on increasing taxes since. They feel that when Bush went back on his word and raised taxes he essentially lost he re-election bid to Clinton. So, in fact, they are very shy about raising any sort of tax.
A couple of years ago, the Citizens United case came before the Supreme Court. This case has been covered a great deal by the media. Morally, we need open and transparent campaigns and elections. We should amend the Constitution to overcome this disastrous decision by the Supreme Court that allows unlimited cash to flow in from corporations to campaigns and elections unreported. As Americans, we need to take back the control of our political process from corporations.
Lastly, the idea that racism in America is dead is just ludicrous. Tuesday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) compared a ballot referendum on gay marriage to the civil rights movement thusly: “The fact of the matter is, I think people would have been happy to have a referendum on civil rights rather than fighting and dying on the streets in the South.” This is a man who has been mentioned as a possible Republican vice presidential nominee. That statement is wrong on so many levels that it just defies any intelligent response. You just don’t put civil rights issues on the ballot. We are still a moral nation, aren’t we?
And then there’s Jan Brewer, Arizona’s rogue governor who confronted President Obama as he deplaned in Arizona for a speech there. He was very calm and respectful with her but she was pointing her finger in his face, in public. You just don’t do that in this country. You respect the office of the President more than that. She was an invited guest there. If she was upset, she should have vented in private. But she made a spectacle of herself. I’m sure a few are proud of her antics, and that’s a shame. She told Fox News that she felt “threatened” by Obama. Right, out there on the tarmac, in plain sight of his security team and the press, she felt threatened. I commend our President for his ability to remain calm in the storm.
Have we lost our way? Perhaps. But we can gain it back. The loss of civility can be reclaimed. It won’t be easy. No battle ever is. But for the sake of our country, and our future, it will be worth the effort.