Columnist Conrad Black observes that our nation is on the cusp on doing something extraordinary: electing a President that is ideologically far left of the vast majority of the people who will vote for him. The reason? The financial wreckage that has been left in the wake of the worst economic tsunami in my lifetime.
My frustration is that both candidates vying to become our nation's CEO have failed to place the blame where it rightly lies. They've blamed Wall Street, fat-cat CEOs, President Bush, even their own colleagues in congress - though they've carefully in pointed out that they, themselves, were Nastradamus-like in their prophetic prognostications of impending collapse.
They missed it entirely.
Though I am voting for McCain, I would be much happier if he had looked in the camera and said, "Who is to blame for this crisis? You are, America. You bought cars you didn't really need with loans you couldn't really afford. You took out home equity loans, and when they sent you a 'credit card' that you could use to quickly access your 'home equity line of credit' you went to the mall, bought a blouse and lost your house. You're to blame, America, because you cashed out your 401K in order to pay off your wife when you divorced her. You took trips to the Caribbean with money you didn't have to see places you couldn't enjoy because all the while in the back of your mind you knew you would have to work overtime in order to pay the bill. While the Japanese were industriously saving, you and your fellow Americans created a negative savings rate (which is to say you spent more than you made). You've at fault America because you fought a war that you couldn't afford, and unlike your grandparents, you didn't make any sacrifices to pay for it. You wanted your war, delivered nightly on television, just so long as you could sit at Applebees and watch it on CNN. (Drinks complements of your company expense account, of course.)
Conventional thought says, "You can't get regular Americans to vote for you by blaming them." I disagree. I think regular Americans really do know they shoulder some responsibility. I know I do. I bought too much house in Michigan before I sold my home in Indiana. I chose wants over needs. I know my own culpability. If John McCain loses this election it will be, in part, because "The Straight Talk Express didn't make a whistle-stop in Realityville.
You see, had any candidate pointed out that we're all to blame, the golden opportunity would have been to remind us that, any mess Americans get themselves into, they can get out of.
Imagine McCain saying this: "Friends, we're all to blame. First, I and my colleagues in government are at fault. We let you down. We created a culture in which CEO fat-cats and predatory lenders caved into the pressure of their shareholders (including many of you who own Freddie and Fannie in your mutual funds). And you, friends, bought homes that cost too much even though you saved too little. You spent more than you made. You're to blame. I'm to blame. We all are responsible. But the good news is: we got in it together, and together, if we purpose to do it, we can recover together. The same country that put a man on the moon can put the economy back on track.
I would have voted for that candidate regardless of party.
Instead, I am left with voting for the guy who, I suspect, thought it but wasn't courageous enough to step away from his handlers and tell me what I really needed to hear. And I'm left to wonder if that isn't, at least partly, why I'll likely be watching Senator Obama become President Obama next January.