(Week 7 - Thursday, Sept. 11)
It is a feature of the growing malaise in American politics that, no matter who we elect, they seem to do essentially the same thing once they get into office. The sharp distinctions the candidates were at pains to draw between themselves prove to be of little consequence because once they assume their duties their real mandate is to keep the bankruptcy re-organization process moving forward so the country can at least function while the "debt" continues to climb.
To make the game palatable to the electorate, they inherit a tacit public relations mandate, which is to deflect attention from the fact that the "debt" is a monetary problem that is caused by the nation having given up the power to create its own money supply. Instead, they will feel obliged to exhort the people endlessly that if only we adopted the right taxing and spending priorities, then budgets would be balanced, the economy would "grow," and the "debt" would start to be paid. Such rhetoric only obscures the real problem.
I have followed the pronouncements of both Obama and McCain carefully and have heard no evidence that either is at all aware that of the true nature of the "debt" problem, though that is not to assume that they don't have thoughts in private. Several of the other Presidential aspirants have given some indication that they possess a measure of understanding. These are Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich and Ralph Nader. Unfortunately, none has demonstrated the level of urgency on the matter that would show that they realize that, without rectification of the monetary system, their otherwise laudable intentions will be in the end moot (to be fair, Ron Paul might be an exception, but his cure, the gold standard, is as bad as the disease).
This has not always been the case in American Presidential campaigns. At the Democratic Convention in Chicago in 1896, Williams Jennings Bryan declared, in what has come to be known as his "Cross of Gold" speech, "If they ask us why we do not embody in our platform all the things that we believe in, we reply that when we have restored the money of the Constitution, all other necessary reforms will be possible, but until this is done there is no other reform that can be accomplished."
The nominating conventions of that era were not choreographed media events. They were actual deliberative conclaves. The public at that time was savvy about the basic principles of money, and the delegates knew what Bryan was talking about (would the delegates of today?). In fact they were so moved that the speech propelled him from being the dark-horse candidate, to the party's nominee (the position Obama occupies now) for three election cycles.
What does all this say about the monetary knowledge, understanding and wisdom of, not only the current Presidential candidates, but also we the people who elect them? Shall we passively watch them on TV while they pour themselves out to pander for our approval, or would it be better to seek a way to help them become edified through this process? After all, one of them will be our next President. We the people certainly have no stake in their futility. Let us hope that whoever is elected will have a better chance to lead than merely manage the bankruptcy of our nation.
So, how might this be done? I would suggest that we the people take on the task of learning about money, and then work to open up a public discourse in which the candidates can feel free to join in. I have reason to believe that they have thoughts and questions about the subject, but do not feel free to give them voice. Many of us complain that they are scripted, but with our often gaff-obsessed, litmus-issued judgmental attitude, we keep them imprisoned in their script. Their evident failings notwithstanding, these are bright, talented and motivated people. Surely they are capable of the monetary conversation.
The complete set of columns from this series is posted at the following websites: