Posted by: dstieglitz | September 29, 2008

RECOVERY FIRST, THEN CHANGE

The world has changed dramatically in the past month, and the events alter the course of the election. Several financial institutions that were icons on Wall Street are gone, and others are threatened by the failure of the bailout bill to pass in the House. In the face of an economic upheaval, a questionable war, an unpopular president, and record low Congressional approval ratings, Obama and McCain both claim to be change gurus. But the next president’s first challenge will be more about recovery than change.

 

In the current financial crisis, both candidates seem unwilling (or unable?) to lead the country toward a robust response. In typical Congressional fashion, McCain has called for an investigation and creation of a new Federal agency to avoid future meltdowns. Obama, on the other hand, is content to blame the whole mess on the Bush administration. He continues to attack McCain and the Republicans while promising to sprinkle fairy dust that will unify everyone after the election.

 

So how do these developments affect the ability of the candidates to change Washington and the direction of the country? In terms of the Change Quotient that rates candidates from zero to 100 relative to their ability to accomplish change, Obama dropped 6 points and McCain dropped 3 points. For the first time, McCain leads, but only by one point. At this point, the ratings for Obama and McCain are:

     Change Quotient Ratings

                        Jul     Aug     Sep     Oct

Obama      75       76        78        72

McCain      73       72        76        73

 

      The grotesquely biased ad campaigns by Obama and McCain have been effective: they have reduced the credibility of both candidates. They both lost points for failing to acknowledge the merits of alternative viewpoints, although Obama seems the more recalcitrant of the two. Unfortunately, they both appear to be dazed by the recent economic events and neither has offered a solid plan for recovery let alone change.

 

The change we really need is a change in our voting criteria. For example, a recent poll showed a Congressional approval rating under 20%, but an approval rating for home-state representatives and senators generally over 70%. How can that be? How can individual members of Congress be rated highly, while collectively they are despised? The answer is each representative and senator is effective at supporting his or her home state but ineffective at solving our country’s major challenges (e.g., economy, infrastructure, energy policy, health care, and immigration). Our voting criteria need to change to which candidate will do the most good for the country, rather than the most good for their state and their party.

 

Maybe the debates will turn things around, even though the first debate was inconclusive. I hope so because we will need change after the recovery is completed. If you would like to register your viewpoints on these questions, log onto the blog at http://www.dickstieglitz.com.

 

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