Friday, April 25, 2008

Hedonism Leads to Apathy

The world has seen many cultures rise and fall. The common thread among all, from the Ancient Romans and Greeks to others, is that prior to their fall they became selfish, gluttonous and apathetic. They adopted the feel good and do it now mentality that today’s secularists feel is an invention of their own.

Anyone who studies human nature should find it apparent that our Creator set up a system whereby gluttonous selfishness leads to apathy. It is therefore of no surprise that those who embody the “feel good, do it now” movement are so out of touch with the needs of the nation and of what constitutes a healthy society that they spend all of their time spinning and twisting the truth about those who oppose their insipid agenda. It is also of no surprise that in their quest to instill their tasteless and harmful doctrine, they politicize national security concerns and propagate the belief that inviting those who are sworn to the destruction of Western civilization to a big kumbaya will make them see the light, as opposed to emboldening them. After all, apathy does that to a person.

The Bolsheviks encouraged promiscuity as a way of making the people apathetic. Yet they would never have gone as far as today’s “liberals” routinely go as a matter of course.

There are many problems in society. But instead of addressing them in a true spirit of promoting human rights, today’s “liberals” are stuck on bashing those who oppose the hedonistic agenda that is neither healthy or conducive to anyone. Today’s conservatives are far more concerned with human rights around the world whereas many liberals are only interested in select cases they can politicize.

I’m not saying that the pandemic of hedonism hasn’t permeated many conservatives as well, it has. But by and large, those who promote it and wish to indoctrinate society with it are of another political persuasion.

Selfish indulgence into one’s momentary desires leads to nothing but ruination. Those who succumb to it often shorten their lifespan and decrease their vitality, all the while becoming increasingly self absorbed. Doing so is bad enough. Encouraging others to embrace a similar viewpoint is far worse and attacking those who don’t for no other reason than that they won’t march in lockstep is beyond the pale.

This is the root cause for much of the nonsense spouted by the left. It is also why they so vociferously attack the right. It’s a shame. Embracing a wholesome lifestyle adds depth and dimension to a person. It keeps them healthier and gives them a reason to live. It opens up their minds and hearts. This is on an individual level.

On a societal level, analyzing all issues in terms of what’s best for society, not what best meets a special interest, is paramount to the continuation of any civilization. A society that works together in moral ways and that allows for the expression of each individual’s talents and abilities, is a healthy and long lasting society that will usually go the distance. Embracing such a philosophy makes us worthy of receiving many blessings, both individually as well as on a societal level. It’s essential that we get back to basics, from which all good things flow.

The Obama-Barr Ticket

Ralph Nader is doing what all Americans who care about national security and competent economic leadership should do, he’s helping John McCain and taking away votes from Barack Obama. Conversely, Bob Barr seems set to help Obama and while it is his right to do so, countering him should be a top priority of those who believe that Obama’s positions on social issues, economics or on national security are dangerous for the nation.

I could be misreading the situation. It is quite possible that Barr, who sides with Obama on many social issues as well as on some matters of national security, may mainly attract the Ron Paul vote that would otherwise stay home or even go to Obama. But unlike Paul, Barr attracts more interest on the part of some conservatives. We must therefore point out the obvious, that a vote for him is a vote for Obama, in the hopes of alerting some of his supporters to the seriousness of the situation.

Bob Barr’s not my idea of a perfect candidate, but to many he’s an appealing one. We need to bear the following in mind: If communist appeaser Henry Wallace had been a serious threat in 1948, it would have been incumbent upon all who recognized the danger that the communist threat posed to America to rally around his strongest opponent.

The same was true in 1972 when Wallace’s protégé, George McGovern, captured the Democratic nomination and took the party with him. Republicans at the time had the most liberal as well as the most corrupt candidate up for reelection, someone who even our candidate’s biggest detractors must admit was far worse than anyone since, yet to oppose Richard Nixon in favor of McGovern would have been disastrous for the nation.

Incidentally, for those who have any doubt what a McGovern presidency would have entailed, as well as for those who still wonder when the radicalization of the Democratic Party began, its takeover by the Wallace Progressives and subsequent transformation stems from the McGovern nomination. For those who are still unsure of whether Nixon’s reelection was the better option, I’d encourage them to read the column If Only We’d Voted Democrat in 1972, We’d All Know How to Speak Russian.

Sen. Obama is to the left of McGovern and of Henry Wallace in many ways and this is not an election in which we have the luxury of sitting by the sidelines. If you must prove a point, elect a libertarian to Congress (though this too will affect the way the nation reacts to social, economic and security issues by strengthening Congressional Democrats) or on a state level.

Bob Barr all but admits that he has no chance of winning, not that he’d have to admit it for that much to be clear. As such, a vote for Bob Barr is a vote that places one on the sidelines of the crucial battle between the sensibility of McCain’s positions and the surrealism of Obama’s.

And what if Barack Obama is somehow not the Democratic nominee, a very remote possibility even after the revelation of his latest remarks? Have Republicans all of a sudden decided to rally behind Hillary Clinton? If so, you can help her campaign with a vote for Bob Barr.

The situation also deserves the attention of the McCain campaign. They’d be wise to offer Barr the position of either Attorney General or Treasury Secretary in a McCain Administration on condition that he step aside, not because Barr’s the most qualified, but so as to nip this problem in the bud and because there are issues of far greater concern.

The McCain campaign should also make doubly sure not to select a vice presidential running mate who would alienate swing voters. John McCain needs to choose someone who will bring broad momentum to the ticket or who appeals to the largest group of swing voters. We must not further harm the GOP with a candidate who does not play well to this group, as doing so also emboldens Obama.

As for this column’s header, you’ve got to admit that a Barack Obama – Roseanne Barr ticket should make Republicans smile. This year, it wouldn’t surprise me if it came about. But let’s not let jokes take away from the serious damage that can be done by Bob Barr and the need to counter it effectively.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Truth in Reporting – If Only We’d Insist On It

Presenting true and accurate information is crucial to enabling the public to make proper decisions, yet it’s increasingly clear that this is of little concern to today’s mainstream media. But as inexcusable as their distortions and slanted coverage are, they come as little surprise. What is astonishing is how conservatives never take the time to take the media to task, especially when their mantras can be easily countered by simply pointing out a few undeniable facts.

Some media bias is subtle and comes in the form of a misrepresentation of public opinion. For some unfortunate reason, many people are more inclined to see what everyone else is thinking and follow in lockstep, as opposed to analyzing issues to form and logical and correct decision. The media uses this herd mentality to their advantage.

One recent example of this was an ABC report by Martha Raddatz in which she interviewed numerous troops regarding their presidential preferences. While poll after poll shows that the military is heavily Republican, to the point that Sen. McCain leads almost exponentially over either opponent, all of Raddatz’s subjects supported Obama, with one or two being for Hillary Clinton and none for John McCain. While it would be easier to find 10 Obama supporters in a row at the Republican Convention than by randomly interviewing ten active duty soldiers, Raddatz managed to pull off this amazing feat and did so unchallenged by ABC. And they’re the least biased of the three major networks.

But this is a minor example. It’s miniscule and doesn’t do justice to the level of media bias that truly permeates television and print news coverage. It is, however, the latest in a constant pattern of misrepresentation. Such a pattern is what leads the media to feature only the handful of ex-generals who side with the Democrats on Iraq, instead of the far greater percentage who side with the President and believe that our actions were far more humane than the previous 12 years of sanctions that starved the innocent population while doing nothing to Saddam. Case in point: Does anyone remember Gen. Jack Keane? When he was outspoken against the administration’s policy and in favor of the surge, there wasn’t a TV news show that didn’t have him on as a regularly featured guest. Now that he says that the surge is working he no longer exists. At the rate at which voices friendly to conservatism disappear from the airwaves, the mainstream media should demand that the Pulitzer be replaced by the “Put Houdini Most to Shame” Award.

The above is true on virtually all issues. The conservative viewpoint is routinely skewed, with its weakest arguments put forward as its only ones. The media, charged with presenting all sides of the issue, are content to state what they believe the conservative viewpoint to be, so dictating it to their listeners and then setting them straight with the best of the liberal argument. That’s their version of presenting all sides of an issue, and if you stray from it, you’re biased.

Let’s take their logic to its natural conclusion. Suppose one of the networks decided to host a presidential debate to which they’d invited only the Democratic nominee. To be “fair,” after playing up all the talking points of his own party, the nominee would make sure to articulate what he thought the Republican position might be, would proceed to rebut them and then go home after having presented “both sides.” If you believe this scenario to be absurd, how is it different from the daily routine of networks getting all political news from Democratic National Committee talking points? To be sure, on occasion, they will give token mention to the Republican point of view, provided it be a weak one. Even then, they make sure to rebut such points quickly in the name of presenting both sides, a noble rule that is only important to follow if a conservative viewpoint somehow reaches the airwaves.

Take any issue. On Iraq, if Al Gore (who railed against George H. W. Bush in 1992 for not deposing Saddam, saying at the time that no dictator who’d already murdered 2 million people could be contained by the type of loose monitoring that was put in place and therefore demanded his removal) had been elected and gone to war under the same circumstances, the media would have reminded us almost daily that despite the fact that no WMD were found, the mission was needed based on UN documents at the time, which showed mass stockpiles of chemical weapons that were clearly in Saddam’s hands in the early 1990s and that hadn’t been destroyed.

We’d be told that at least with regard to poisonous gases, Saddam may have sent these materials to Syria or Libya, hid them in one of his famous underground cities or otherwise removed them in such a way that he could call them back at a moment’s notice. The media would invite top Gore strategists to be interviewed, who would remind the public that had we not attacked Saddam after 12 years of warning, the last 18 months of which had been delivered almost daily, our reputation and future negotiation power with other rogue leaders would have been destroyed. They would have told viewers that if they’re against this unfortunate war they should blame Saddam, who defied the world by continuing to breach the demilitarized zone, who kept yelling that he had weapons and who refused to allow inspectors anywhere without at least a week’s notice. They would rightly state that unlike Iran and North Korea, who would only attack if they had first developed nuclear capabilities, Saddam would have been satisfied by launching even a small terror attack against the US, as evidenced by his attempt to assassinate a former US President.

There’d certainly be no in-depth profiles of every US soldier killed. The media would know that such stories tug at the emotions of the public and might even have turned public sentiment against WW2 if featured at the time, as such emotional highlights take peoples’ minds off whether the war effort is needed (based on the possibility of a madman giving gases to the wrong people or based on prewar intel that could not be discounted because a dictator refused to comply with inspectors) and focus it on individual tragedies. They would know that such heart wrenching individual stories would make America hesitant to ever defend itself and would take the focus off of which course of action would save more lives in the long run.

If Al Gore had gone to war against Saddam we’d be told how all but 4 provinces in Iraq enjoy relative peace. We’d be shown the real atrocities and hunger that sanctions caused before Saddam was removed (which were then seen as the only alternative to removing Saddam while still containing him, an alternative that turned out have cruel ramifications and that was woefully ineffective), as well as a video made by the Kurdish provincial government thanking us for their new and far better conditions and we’d ask why we didn’t save the Iraqi people sooner. Instead of asking whether we should leave with our tail between our legs, thereby emboldening terrorists everywhere, we’d be asking how to improve those areas that are still affected by the upheaval.

Notice that the media only started featuring how life really is in most of Baghdad, its restaurants and its office spaces, when they started featuring stories on its dwindling economy and power outages. Before that they were happy to portray Baghdad as being in middle of an all out civil war, not just the victim of instances of sporadic violence. The recent problems with al Sadr would also have been portrayed in their true context, that of the US military finally being able to take the fight to places they couldn’t go near to for the past two years. You can be sure that a far different picture would have been painted had Gore been elected and stuck with the policy he favored in 1992 that is now known as the Bush Iraq policy.

When the media asks Republicans about polls and public opinion, they should paint the above scenario and counter with “How can you expect anything different after running a daily drumbeat of negative and skewed coverage for years? Where are all the pictures of Iraqi civilians going about daily life, of US soldiers playing with Iraqi children in Iraqi parks and playgrounds, of which there are many? After highlighting every American death, of which there’ve been far fewer than in any other war, after highlighting every instance of possible soldier misconduct over a 5 year period, of which there’ve been far less of than in any previous military campaign, none of which was ever rehashed on a daily basis before, what exactly do you expect the public to feel? Have you once mentioned the reasons for the war or any of the accomplishments made in Iraq? Have you told them of the horrors of the Saddam regime, its threat even without nukes? Have you explained the equally horrific effects of sanctions, the only alternative to removing Saddam? Based on all of this, what exactly do you expect the public to think, especially after you’ve highlighted every death in a way that would have made us pull out of WW2 had you guys been around at the time?”

Whether one is for or against the war, everyone should agree that the facts that are portrayed shouldn’t change whether the war was started by a President Bush, Clinton or Gore. Yet when Republicans are questioned about any Iraqi events or about the war in general they shy away. They speak only of the mistakes (and no war and no general has ever fought without making many blunders), yet refuse to call a spade a spade or to point out that had the media once employed the tactics they’re using now, we’d still be mad at Roosevelt over the Battle of the Bulge (which was not his fault, but neither is al Sadr the fault of Bush).

The above is with regard to Iraq, but the same is true of all other issues. When two states wanted to force 6th grade girls to receive HPV vaccinations, sanctimonious liberal anchors announced that conservative groups opposed the plan “because they believe it could lead to promiscuity.” Yet if you asked most conservatives, they saw the difference between a vaccine, which does not promote a particular act and condom distribution in high, middle and elementary schools, which does. If the vaccines were safe or even tested, few would have opposed them, although some would have asked that it be given as part of a routine medical exam instead of making a special production out of it in school.

The main reason conservatives rallied against the measure was because, except in the event of a possible plague or massive outbreak, parents have the right to protect their children from unsafe, minimally tested vaccines whose long term effects are impossible to document. And that’s aside from the dangers of over-vaccination in general, dangers that go well beyond mercury content. But why bring up these issues when the media can present the vaccine as a cure all, opposed by conservative groups over worries about implications that aren’t apparent, at least unless liberals make them so by stressing the promiscuity aspect to the kids? To be sure, the media eventually did bring up the more prevalent issues, but credited them to health groups. “Conservatives” still opposed the measure for the reasons the media had decided upon. If it were up to the media, the coming McCain-Obama debates really would feature Obama talking to himself and rebutting his arguments with what he wishes McCain would say.

The same is true on all other issues, be it abortion, the Second Amendment, school choice, Intelligent Design, global warming and all other issues. Hundreds of respected scientists can present a scientific case for their arguments that is much more thorough and scientific than that of their opponents. Yet because they don’t parrot the liberal political agenda they are marginalized. In fact, liberals and the media have launched an assault on real science that is greater than any unleashed since the state powers of the time opposed Galileo. As one minor example of this, one should research the 2005 study that documents a cyclical period of global cooling that started in 1998. Is there any reason this study, which has been widely available and even received token media coverage two years ago has been buried ever since? There is, and the answer is self evident.

And what do liberals propose to do about all this? They seek to institute the Fairness Doctrine on the radio to monitor opinion shows that don’t pretend to be news (yet who somehow manage to present more facts than the network news, even though it’s not their job). After all, the right of Reuters to doctor photos and of CBS News to air forged computer text files that were supposedly written on a typewriter in the 1970s must be protected. It’s radio talk show hosts and conservative writers on the internet who need to be curbed as, unlike the rest of the media, they may actually present some real news.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

What to do About Graduation Rates in Major US Metropolitans – Correcting Public Schools Through Competition With Private Education

We’ve heard the news. In 17 of 50 large US cities, more high school students are dropping than are graduating according to a study conducted by the highly reputable America's Promise Alliance. Even though reporting on the study was misleading, with much of the media portraying it to reflect all urban areas, not only 17 out of 50, the problem is real and extensive nonetheless.

While it’s a shame that the media has to hype the news, thereby detracting from the facts, the facts alone are serious enough to warrant action. And if we truly seek to solve this problem there’s only one practical answer that comes in the form of a two-part solution; instilling values in our children and bringing real and concrete improvement to our schools.

Dropout and truancy affect society at large. High school dropouts are 3.5 times more likely to commit crime, according to a 2003 report by the Alliance for Excellent Education. Other research shows that teens who are no longer in school or are truant are far more likely to fall prey to drug abuse, possess a decreased sense of self worth and are more apt to poverty. And while this is not the case among teens who leave school for steady, full time work, very few students who drop out of school transition immediately into the workforce.

The way to solve any problem is to analyze its causes and propose common sense solutions that don’t exacerbate it further. In this case, the educational crisis stems from three factors. First, many urban children are brought up without guidance and direction. Second, children have been raised to “do what feels good,” with a focus on instant gratification and without regard for what’s best long term (even if this was not the parents’ intent, children often learn by example). And last, the school system has stopped stimulating academic growth and fails to deal with the student’s specific needs. As a result, school has become a boring drudgery and a chore that is, in the mind of the student, best gotten rid of.

To correct the first two causes we need to motivate parents to take an interest in the upbringing of their children. To correct the final cause, real and meaningful improvements must be brought to the school system. Such improvements should not consist of pie in the sky ideas put forward by sandcastle academics (those in academia who contemplate the building of sandcastles upon clouds of marshmallow to cure all of society’s ills).

Education must be motivational and mentoring to students. Teachers need to be aware of what motivates each student, where his or her problems lie and then be given sufficient leeway to work with them. The teacher must also be motivated (by way of rewards and incentives, overtime pay, etc.) to spend after hour time with students in need.

To correct the first two problems, parents need simply to ask themselves whether the cost of increased involvement in the upbringing of their children is worth protecting their future and maybe even their lives. If parents then choose to get involved, a good start would be to spend time helping their children with homework or at least talking with them about it and taking an active interest in their studies. Parents also need to discuss with their children the importance of staying in school and the tangible benefits an education can provide as well as the real pitfalls that are associated with a lack thereof. All of this must be done in a mentoring and caring way as opposed to a badgering one. If they fail to get through, parents can involve third party mentors, with the ultimate goal of being able to motivate their children by themselves within a short period of time, a task made easier once the child has been taught the importance of education and responsibility.

The last root cause of the dropout problem is harder to fix, though if qualified teachers were left to make the decisions it would not be. What makes improvement difficult is the massive bureaucracy within the public school system, starting with academics who dictate their latest experimental theories as cure alls and ending with teachers unions that, while accomplishing some good and being necessary on a certain level, often put forward proposals that are neither in the best interest of teachers or of students.

For example, standardized testing was a noble first start and it is a shame that those who proposed it are often maligned for political reasons. It helped end the cycle of graduating illiterates. But no matter how noble the intentions, it is at best a partial answer if an answer at all.

A better answer would be to train teachers to motivate and work with each needing student. Teachers or in-school tutors should discreetly provide help after class hours to students in need and this should be a necessary component of the educational system. Moreover, teachers should be given texts and training that make lessons vibrant and inspiring. And as is key to any successful education program, teachers should educate students, stressing the “three Rs” and other needed studies, and refrain from social indoctrination.

Simply put, schools should be a place where learning flourishes, respect and good behavior are expected and social engineering is left out of the mix. While the last part is the goal of most educational systems outside of California, in practice teachers often do get into heated discussions on socio-political issues and such acts serve to lessen respect for them in the eyes of students and their control of the classroom in general.

A further way to increase graduation rates is to teach students the tangible difference that an education can make in their lives. To this end, students should be taught business skills by teachers or by outside volunteer professionals subject to their school’s approval.

Of note is the work of Junior Achievement, an organization that has recruited hundreds of volunteers from the business community to teach practical business skills to students.
Still, though teaching business skills will increase a student’s motivation, teens who are already contemplating quitting may not see a connection between business abilities and the need to continue their education. To get through to these students, a course must be taught that clearly outlines the tangible benefits of staying in school and of avoiding crime in ways that teens can readily understand. See the last paragraph of this column for one such option that is currently available.

Implementing the above improvements is easier said than done when dealing with a multi-layered bureaucracy. While this must not be used as an excuse, it is a reality. A reality that will only likely be overcome by forcing the hands of public school boards through supporting school choice, opening private schools to all children through grants, especially for students in schools that have a high failure or dropout rates or that fail their standard evaluations.

Enacting improvements in public schools is hard to do without outside pressure. One need look no further than the example of the legendary Superintendent Dr. Frank Till of the Broward County, Florida School Board (one of the largest in the nation) to see how hard it is to improve a system that’s stuck in reverse.

After drastically improving the rankings of Broward schools, in large part by making teachers focus on the individual needs of each student, Till was fired in a controversial 5-4 vote for not acquiescing to certain board members’ wishes in matters that were entirely unrelated to education. This was in spite of support from the teachers union, parent groups and other prominent supporters for Till to remain on the job. The school system is broken and nothing will force it to improve other than the availability of a quality alternative in the form of private schools.

School choice is the only motivating factor that can take a stagnant and insulated public system and finally force it to better serve our youth. Until this is accomplished, parents who are able to should seek to send their children to qualified and well run private schools. At present this may come at a significant cost, but incentives and reductions are usually available. Besides, fewer investments, if any, can be more important.

As outlined above, the best way to prevent truancy, dropping out and delinquency is by giving students compelling reasons to stay in school. To this end I’ve developed a teaching guide for teens that explains the tangible and practical differences that education, financial common sense, long term thinking and volunteerism make in their lives, as well as the pitfalls that stem from quitting school and delinquency.

The course was approved by the Superintendent’s Committee of a major school board and has been used to teach honors students and at risk youth. It also contains sound financial information that will be useful to parents and to educators. I will provide the course free to any CFP reader who requests a copy by email. We all need to do whatever we can to improve the situation in our schools. Hopefully, this small effort will be joined by many efforts of yours.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

If Only We’d Voted Democrat in 1972, We’d All Know How to Speak Russian

Everyone would like to have a presidential candidate we can always agree with. In the end, however, when two clear choices emerge, the responsible thing to do is to fight hard for the candidate you believe will best serve, govern and protect this nation.

I’m not going to seek to point out the virtues of John McCain, of which there are many. I won’t bother stating that McCain is more conservative than Presidents Ford, Nixon and even Dwight D. Eisenhower and that even in this year’s Republican primaries he was one of the more conservative candidates, though all this is true as well. The reason it is imperative to support John McCain is because he supports sound national security, social and economic policy and his opponent is clueless in all of the above.

One did not need to be a Nixon fan to campaign actively against McGovern. One simply had to realize that there was no greater threat to the security and wellbeing of this nation than the election of George McGovern, a prodigy of Henry Wallace. McCain is no Nixon. He’s far more conservative and has far more integrity. I’m simply using the Nixon-McGovern example to illustrate that even those who believe the worst of John McCain should understand the importance of not sitting this election out. But while McCain is no Nixon, Barack Obama is George McGovern or worse, and America can ill afford a McGovern presidency.

Believe the absolute worst of John McCain if you will (one would be wrong to do so, as examining his entire record would show, but even if McCain’s biggest detractors were 100% right), we still have an obligation to make sure that Barack Obama is not elected president and the only way to do so is to strongly, energetically and enthusiastically get behind John McCain. For those who think the worst of him, had Reagan somehow lost the 1980 nomination, would you have then sat back and given tacit support to four more years of Carter? Well Carter may be better than Barack.

In our short history as a nation we’ve had 42 presidents. Many have served excellently, some have done so miserably and others have fallen in the middle. None have been perfect. And while there are times to avoid supporting your party’s nominee in the hopes of gaining one who is more philosophically aligned with conservatism in the future, insecure and hard economic times, times when leadership is most needed, are not the right occasions to play Russian roulette with the wellbeing of the nation. Based on this I would strongly urge all conservatives and everyone else who believes that John McCain is better equipped than Barack Obama to deal with issues of vital importance to national security, to our social fabric and to the economy, to get behind McCain and to do so with a passion.

Some commentators have cited the example of 1976 as a reason to sit this season out. According to their reasoning, the election of Jimmy Carter is what paved the way for the election of Ronald Reagan and by electing Barack Obama we will have a stronger Republican Party and some kind of super candidate next time around, though even they admit that this is a stretch that boils down to mere wishful thinking.

The truth is that such logic is much worse than a stretch. Aside from the fact that it spawns the question of why we don’t simply nominate Jimmy Carter all over again if his presidency in and of itself is the cause of such great long term results, it also fails to take into account the dynamics of America in 1976 through 1980 that allowed America to escape the Carter Presidency without extensive permanent damage (save the rise of the Ayatollahs in Iran).

In 1976 we were at peace. Economic policy had already been set by weak and liberal Republican administrations that had at least paid attention to the crisis and had listened to experts with the intention of solving the crisis. Carter didn’t seek to upset the applecart. The economy stalled further and fell to new lows while Carter and his cabinet stood by virtually helpless and without vision, but the decline was gradual due to the pre-Carter policies already in place.

In foreign affairs, Carter’s criticism of the Shah of Iran helped fuel the rise of the Ayatollahs, but other than that the Carter years were times of relative peace and security in which America could maintain itself, if it had to, without a set foreign and military policy. Our greatest threat came from the Soviets and our resistance to them had been worked on for decades. By 1976 we had attained level of military power that could not be undone by four years of Jimmy Carter.

But what if Carter or the Carteresque Sen. McGovern had been elected in 1972 instead of 1976, when the Communist threat to America was more pronounced? What if one of these two had been elected at the beginning of the economic crisis of the 1970s, before economic policy had been set and before the underlying economic issues causing the recession had been fully determined? How would America have fared under a Carter presidency then?

No one would suggest that John McCain is Richard Nixon. Nixon was corrupt and extremely liberal. John McCain, despite what some may say of him, is neither and all one has to do is look at his entire record to find as much. But regardless, if we had sat back in 1972 in favor of a better nominee the next time round, the damage would have been done and it would have been extensive, if not permanent.

The Soviet Union would have taken a far greater foothold in South America, threatening us close to home. Our military, already hard pressed at the time, would have fallen to a point where the Soviets could have halted their buildup while still gaining the upper hand. This would have also allowed them to expand their economy while ours crumbled under Carter’s incompetence. While they wouldn’t have been able to take over America, they would have become the world’s only superpower and the fall of Communism would not have come about through America, as it did, though possibly through internal resistance and with the help of Britain.

If Carter had been elected in 1972, Republicans would have nominated anyone to beat him in 1976 and would have most likely played it safe, nominating the most moderate candidate, not wishing to make waves in an otherwise easy election. The Reagan presidency may never have happened as people turned to anyone but Carter. In such scenarios parties try to play it safe and no safe candidate, once in office, would have been able to undo the amount of damage a 1972 Carter would have already done. So all in all, we should be very glad that McGovern wasn’t elected in 1972. The only time he’d be worse would be in 2008.

The above scenario leaves out the damage a Carter or a McGovern would have done to the courts. Similarly, one can ask themselves whether they favor a court packed with McCain nominees or with Obama ones. It’s an important question, especially given possibility of numerous retirements from the Supreme Court.

This year and these times are not similar to the tranquil times of the late 1970s, when America was able to survive under Carter. An inexperienced laissez faire candidate is no more what this country needs than the Russian worker needed Lenin to “save” them from their problems.

Barack Obama wouldn’t bring us starvation and tyranny, but he would embolden the enemy and is no trusted economic steward to say the least. We cannot entrust our economy, our security or our family values, the foundation of any nation, to a candidate who is so inept and inexperienced in all of these areas and who offers no sound solutions for any. We have a responsibility to get behind John McCain.

And a message to those who are concerned with John McCain on specific issues: We can loudly oppose those policies we do not favor and work to shape conservatism from within. In the long run we’ll do far better than if we have to defend our lack of support for our nominee and our tacit approval of Barack Obama.

In these times we do not have the luxury of sitting back and waiting this one out. It is the duty of every American and of all who care for America to do everything possible to support the candidate best positioned to lead on matters of security, the economy and social values. Some elections are too important to sit out and watch what happens, but few are as important as this year’s is.