Thursday, September 11, 2008

It's Not Just Change Americans Want, It's Reform!

Although this is a real estate blog dealing with my local market, I can't help but make some observations about the upcoming election and how the selection of Sarah Palin has completely transformed the campaign. What was shaping up as another humdrum campaign, has overnight been turned into the most exciting in recent history.

For almost two years now we have heard the Democrats call for "change, change and more change" in an effort to tap the growing discontent Americans are feeling toward the government. This is a discontent we all feel. There is no doubt our government does not represent the interests of Main Street. We all want things to change and that is a desire that runs deep.

Despite this desire, Americans have been reluctant to buy into the change that the Democrats have proposed. When you cut through the lofty oratory, the bottom line is that they are proposing higher taxes on our society, more government spending and bigger deficits. These are not new ideas. We have tried them before, remember Jimmy Carter, and then finally discarded them when Bill Clinton became President and the Republicans took control of Congress. Deep down inside most Americans know that bigger government is not the best way to solve the problems that confront us.

The Democrats selected Barack Obama as their messenger and have tried to package him as a transformational political figure. But there is a problem with the choice. Mr. Obama's story is one that many, if not most Americans do not relate to. There is no doubt he is a very talented man who loves his country, but there is still something about him that does not resonate with enough Americans. Maybe it's his personal story, maybe it's professorial tone, perhaps it's his questionable past associations or perhaps it's his frighteningly thin resume. Whatever it is, he hasn't been able to seal the deal.

In the other camp we have John McCain and there are things to like about him. His personal story is compelling. Have we ever had a presidential candidate that knows from personal experience what torture is all about? He does have a reputation for attempting reform, often costing him support within his party. But he has his limitations as well. His age is a problem and he does seem to have a hard time relating to the day to day struggles of Main Street, America. Throw in the fact that his passion is foreign policy and, by his own admission, thoughts of the economic woes of Americans do not capture his imagination, and you have another candidate with a lot to like but one that also leaves to many people unenthusiastic.

It was shaping up as trench warfare campaign, which each side throwing bombs across enemy lines with the hopes of picking up a vote here and there. Then something remarkable happened. Some how, some way, John McCain came up with Sarah Palin as his running mate and the whole campaign has been turned upside down. How he did it really doesn't matter. Almost instantly, a new energy swept across the country, some for her, some against her, but all stood up and took notice.

How could a 44 year old woman, a first term governor from the hinterlands of America transform the campaign and make this election one of the most exciting in modern American history? I believe it is because she taps into and represents what Americans have desperately been searching for. The Democrats were correct in that we are seeking change, but it is more than that. We are seeking reform and she represents reform. Has there ever been a leader that successfully took on his/her own party before throwing stones across the isle? Has there ever been a leader that successfully took on the interests of the powerful in such a way where there was something in the solution for both the powerful and the people as she did with her tackling of Big Oil in Alaska? Has there ever been a leader who, when confronted with a budgetary surplus, decided to return the money to the people rather than figure out ways to spend it? Has there been a leader with a better record of reaching across the isle to effect change that will benefit all of her constituents, as she did when reaching across to Democrats to get the long stalled natural gas pipeline approved? There is something in her thinking that resonates with Americans. She understands that government can't solve all our problems. She understands that governments needs to be fiscally responsible, just as households need to be. Her theme of putting government back on the side of the people is one that gets people excited.

Not only does she have the message Americans have been hungering for, she is the perfect messenger to fit the message. There is something in her personal story that almost every American can relate to. Whatever your background or your beliefs, there is something in Sarah Palin that we can all relate to. He life story is the quintessenial American story.

John McCain, unwittingly or not, has unleashed a force that will be hard to stop. There is talk that this is just a bounce or wave and will dissipate. Something tells me that this is not a wave or a bounce, but there is a tide building that will sweep over America. The Democrats have no choice but to try to destroy her. If they can't, they will lose the election, it's that simple. Something tells me they won't succeed. Something tells me that before this is over, John McCain will be swept into office. Not because the voters wanted John McCain, but because they want Sarah Palin.

In the past I have voted both Democratic and Republican, but usually made my choice based on who I didn't want as opposed to who I did want. I can't remember that last time I was enthusiastic about a candidte. This year I was going to vote for John McCain, not so much because I was excited about him, but because I was convinced that Barach Obama does not have the right answers to our problems. Now I am voting for McCain, again not so much because I am excited about him, but because I am excited about Sarah Palin, what she represents and the belief that she is tranformational leader that the Democrats thought they had in Barack Obama.

Ronald Reagan campaigned on the slogan "Morning in America". The sun is rising on America again, in the form of Sarah Palin. What an exciting time to be alive in America!

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