The Housing Chronicles Blog: Finding the next President for anxious times

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Finding the next President for anxious times

Now that we've whittled down the presumptive nominees to Barack Obama and John McCain, it will be very interesting to see their plans not just for the real estate market, but the overall economy, a real energy policy and what we can expect from their respective administrations.

Friends, family and colleagues get very irritated with me when I tell them I've not yet decided who will get my vote in November (the building industry tends to lean conservative and my friends are a mixed bag), but that's because I simply don't know enough about either man to make an informed choice, so for me the debates will be crucial.

As a 'decline to state' for many years (also known as an Independent), I don't vote party lines and think it's irresponsible and lazy to do so -- what's next, "I like the sound of his name?" (don't joke, that's how some people vote for local judges). For those people who decided months ago who would get their vote -- well before we've seen the two candidates argue the issues -- I would argue that the choice is not one of intellectual honesty, but of emotion. And, according to an op-ed piece by Thomas Friedman in the New York Times, that's exactly what we do NOT need. Amen to that. Let's ask people to THINK this time:

Just a few months ago, the consensus view was that Barack Obama would need to choose a hard-core national-security type as his vice presidential running mate to compensate for his lack of foreign policy experience and that John McCain would need a running mate who was young and sprightly to compensate for his age. Come August, though, I predict both men will be looking for a financial wizard as their running mates to help them steer America out of what could become a serious economic tailspin...

My fellow Americans: We are a country in debt and in decline — not terminal, not irreversible, but in decline. Our political system seems incapable of producing long-range answers to big problems or big opportunities. We are the ones who need a better-functioning democracy — more than the Iraqis and Afghans. We are the ones in need of nation-building. It is our political system that is not working...

We used to try harder and do better. After Sputnik, we came together as a nation and responded with a technology, infrastructure and education surge, notes Robert Hormats, vice chairman of Goldman Sachs International. After the 1973 oil crisis, we came together and made dramatic improvements in energy efficiency. After Social Security became imperiled in the early 1980s, we came together and fixed it for that moment. “But today,” added Hormats, “the political system seems incapable of producing a critical mass to support any kind of serious long-term reform.”..

We need nation-building at home, and we cannot wait another year to get started. Vote for the candidate who you think will do that best. Nothing else matters.

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