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Come Election Day, Leave Fear Off the Ballot

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If a recent AP-GfK poll is accurate, Democrats might want to prepare themselves for a big congressional shift in power. There are many reasons cited for the push toward Grand Old Party candidates, however, the bottom line is humans are simply quick to push the panic button.  Whether we like it or not, if things are not going well, it is in our nature to get immediately agitated.  If stuck in traffic, we quickly look to change lanes. If there is a line at the local coffee shop, we complain right away. If a commercial comes on our favorite television show, we turn the channel. If the economy is less than robust, we want new leadership.

While many were not happy with the two wars, the poor environmental record, and general nepotism that occurred with the George W. Bush administration, the main reason the Democrats won the White House was the American people wanted a fast turnaround to the ailing economy.  In sports, when a team has a losing record for just one or two years, fans demand a new coaching staff. It doesn’t matter that new philosophies and styles may take time for everyone to learn and execute. Nor does it occur to followers that while the record may be a losing one, the team actually may be playing better and on the slow rise to success.  In this day and age, we want instant gratification.

The same is true in politics today. Despite the economy being in a steep decline during the previous administration, the fact that it is still stagnant on some levels after only two years has many voters requesting, yet again, a change. Not just a simple change in management, but one that will focus on new methodology. Even though most experts state the economy is in a strong rebound, some still desperately seek a different course.  “If we get some new blood in there who will do what the people want, maybe this can get turned around,” said Sharon Klawender, 70, a Michigan resident who was interviewed by the AP in its recent poll.

Everyone, be they conservative or liberal, knows what the people want. Everyone, Democrat and Republican, wants a thriving economy. With the stock market up 40% at close today, October 21, 2010 from its close on January 20th, 2009, the day President Obama was inaugurated, and both private and public companies reporting record high profits in the last five years, what people may not understand is “this,” as one GOP-leaning voter puts it, “is already being turned around.”  The unemployment rate and housing market still weigh on the overall economy, but blaming liberal incumbents only for this, simply because a Democrat is sitting in the Oval Office, is more a knee-jerk, nervous reaction than a common sense one.  “We went on a spending spree that took the debt of this country to levels that are just mind-boggling. All they’ve done is spend, spend, spend,” said another voter in the AP study.  By “they,” he most likely meant Republicans and Democrats, since the open checkbook policy started with Bush, well before Obama took office. While government spending is a necessity unless we want massive infrastructure crumbling, failing schools, lack of social services, and deteriorating parks and open spaces, it appears those against this approach to solving the unemployment issue want to hold only liberals accountable.

The bottom line is, come election day, voters need to realize that change does not happen overnight. Turning around an economy that basically went from unseen highs to lows not witnessed since the Great Depression will take time. Both Bush and Obama took steps to try to expedite the process. While some programs and spending may not go over well with factions of the citizenry, there is no doubt the economy has a pretty strong pulse.

Candidates need to be supported based on the issues we hold most dear to us. Voters should not back a candidate solely because they think his or her party affiliation might help turn “this” around. Any economist will tell you it usually takes a few years for a new administration’s policies to take effect. And whether you want to chalk it up to Bush, Obama, or just time and new-found confidence, it appears things are turning for the better.

Thus, come the first Tuesday in November, if you push the button for the Democratic candidate, so be it. If you push the button for the Republican, so be it. Just think it all through before you push the panic button.

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