2012: The common sense election

By David Bozeman — Want to annoy a liberal?  Tell one that America needs a business-person as president to put our economic house in order.  Most libs will, however subtly, react defensively, given that their experiment in “transforming” America has turned out — how to put it mildly? — disastrous, with even Democratic campaign officials using Titanic metaphors.

The standard reply (and we’re hearing it more and more) is that running the country and running a business are two different things.  The responsibilities and consequences of leading a nation can be, and usually are, far graver than those of, say, running a fast-food empire.

There is some truth to that.  As we are reminded, the president doesn’t enjoy the luxury of firing members of the opposing party.  But the significant advantage of electing a business leader — or, at the very least, one who appreciates the dynamics of a free economy — is having someone who has been held accountable.  Accountability, providing goods and services that people want, satisfying stockholders are the defining traits of a free economy.  It isn’t complicated nor is it just one of many competing economic theories out there.  It’s common sense.

That, in part, explains the appeal of Herman Cain.  And the GOP’s flirtation with Donald Trump a few months back.  And why Mitt Romney, a mere one-term governor, remains a front-runner.  It’s his life-long devotion to business where common sense can mean the difference between solvency and shutting the doors for good.

Contrast Cain, Trump and Romney to Barack Obama in 2008.  Our 44th president sailed into office on charisma, platitudes, an activist media, a GOP in ruins and a wafer-thin resume. Soon, he and his cabinet were lauded for their intellectual heft.

Today, by contrast, the American electorate expects reason over rhetoric and solutions over academic pedigree.  One of our great common-sense presidents, Calvin Coolidge, said of experts that, “Whoever deals with current public questions is compelled to rely greatly upon the information and judgments of experts and specialists.  Unfortunately, not all experts are to be trusted as entirely disinterested.”

Indeed, common sense forged this nation from the beginning.  In his aptly titled essay Common Sense, Thomas Paine wrote that the crises of his day served some good, in that “the mind grows through them and acquires a firmer habit than before.”  Also, they “bring things and men to light which might otherwise have lain forever undiscovered. . . they sift out the hidden thoughts of man and hold them up in public to the world.”

Our founders knew that great leaders derive their power and inspiration from the common sense and goodwill of everyday Americans.  They knew that it takes all of us to make this country work:  labor and management, urban and rural, all races, creeds and colors.  We now know that economic class is not set for life, with workers rising above their lowly circumstances even in the toughest of times.

A majority of Americans can easily discern the current Occupy Wall Street protests for the turgid, disjointed people’s-movement-wannabe that it is.  Common sense values can easily contrast the rank class envy masquerading as discourse, and the moral (and physical) sloth disguising itself as a helpless victim of economic injustice.

2012 is all but crying out for an antidote to fear, pessimism and resentment — and to the politicians stoking the flames to fuel their own ambitions.  Calm, cool reason, along with a passionate love for America’s founding ideals can rule the day, and common sense voters can well define 2012 the way values voters and soccer moms seemed to capture more recent elections.

The raucous leftists always fashion themselves the starry-eyed idealists, but we can’t even give them that one, for Calvin Coolidge also remarked that “economy is idealism in its most practical form.”

David Bozeman, former Libertarian Party Chairman, is a Liberty Features Syndicated writer.

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