Friday, April 15, 2016

Think Before You Vote

Last night, I dared to watch the democratic debates. After watching a few of the republican debates, I'd had enough.

Given that one of last night's debaters might be the next President of the United States, I felt it my duty to hear their platforms. I took a leap of faith hoping the Bernie and Hillary might be civil, logical and give me hope for the future.

It didn't happen.

It was combative not logical.

It was personal attacks instead of intelligent explanations of future policy.

It was dodging the questions instead of answering (Wall Street transcript talks?)

It was rhetoric, hot air, verbiage; I wanted honesty, directness, respect, and truth. Each candidate was "right."

My recent foray into the past in order to study the Cold War brought some interesting and unusual insights heretofore unknown.

Last night's debates reminded me of the Nixon-Krushchev Kitchen Debates when Nixon was still Vice President. In 1959, in a moment of joint cooperation, the US opened an American exhibit which included a model of an American home that anyone could afford. It included a full kitchen and other luxury items of the day. Yes, the luxuries we definitely take for granted: TV, washing machine etc.

Nixon was in the kitchen when the president of USSR unexpectedly showed up. They had a series of conversations through interpreters, that turned out more comical than expected. Krushchev began the talks with insults. Good natured as they were, when a person starts with insults, it degrades the conversation and reveals insecurities. Nixon mostly kept the high road, but his jabs are certain though subtle.

Krushchev comes off as an overbearing, braggart of a silly man.

 Soviet Union leaders had very little higher education: Lenin was university educated, but every president thereafter, until Mikhail Gorbachev, lacked a college education.

Is it any wonder, throughout the shelf life of communism that Krushchev destroyed agriculture and helped bring his nation to the brink of destruction?

At least Hillary and Bernie are educated.

Yet...

My introduction to Bernie Sanders, was Bernie Sanders, the social democrat. A social democrat/running for President in the US? Is that an oxymoron, or a paradox? Possible? Are we not a republic? A democracy? A country that has thrived on the principles of capitalism?

 It took many years and included many factors--small acts and big actions, for communism to fall. One of the greatest downfalls of communism was proven over and over again. After WWII the world economy burst ahead. Food production grew faster than population. Manufacturing and trade increased on a global level. When China embraced capitalism, per capita income increased 2.5 times.  Yet, the economies of the USSR and their satellite states continued to deteriorate. Living conditions worsened; times got tougher. Krushchev promised East Germany and the Soviet Union that they would catch up and bypass the world by 1961. By that time 2.7 million people had snuck out of East Germany. The wall was possibly the most damning evidence of communism's failure. When Kennedy addressed Berlin, he mentioned the US had never had to build a wall to keep its people in.

When Margaret Thatcher was elected as prime minister of England, the country was in an economic slump and sliding further. Though not under the rule of communism, the country had implemented some tenets of a social democracy. Her promises were to stimulate the economy through targeting high taxes, the nationalized industries, ending deference to labor unions , and reducing intrusive government regulation. After serving from 1979-1990, her changes showed that privatization, deregulation, and the encouragement of entrepreneurs helped the economy. 

After her efforts, she gave this insightful summation of social democracy “No theory of government was ever given a fairer test…than democratic socialism received in Britain. Yet it was a miserable failure in every respect.”

I would never advise a person how to vote or for whom to vote. I don't even know for myself. But when you vote, read, think and pray.

The economy, your economy, might depend on it.