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EDITORIAL: The Economy Requires Tough Love from Voters in 2014, 2016
One curious historic fact illustrates how policy matters more than a well-presented empathy by a political leader. During Ronald Reagan's two terms as President, more African-American entrepreneurs started and maintained new small businesses than at any time in modern times. That was because Reagan's historic 70 month economic recovery, the longest in the post-World War II era, was a rising tide that helped everyone start businesses, including minorities.
So Ronald Reagan's 1980s were some of the best years for black entrepreneurship. Who'd a thought it?
However, we don't hear this fact very often, because Reagan was viewed as tone deaf on civil rights because he didn't talk about the subject very often. However, in addition to helping black businesses, he signed the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. national holiday into existence, over some significant opposition.
Similarly, Reagan is viewed as completely anti-union due to his firing of the air traffic controllers when they went out on strike, threatening the nation's air travel. However, for many years, Reagan was a quite active member in Hollywood's Screen Actors Guild, making him one of the only Presidents to have ever been an actual member in a union. So he had to at least appreciate what unions did when at their best.
Reagan illustrates the point: Americans are rarely all one thing or all the other. We are all, to some degree, informed by those around us.
So perhaps it is time for two important sea changes to take place across American politics as we approach 2014 and 2016. First, we shouldn't write someone off--be they a candidate, activist, or friend--just because they don't go down the line with us on every single issue. They may be more sympathetic to our positions than we imagine but just can't bring themselves to agree on a particular issue.
Secondly, voters in both major parties, along with Independents and others, need to demand more hard thinking and less sympathy from our candidates.
Yes, yes, we are sure you feel sorry for us, but what kind of plan of action do you have to remedy the economy? If all a candidate has is the same kind of pro-business or pro-labor bromides to keep their bases happy, that gets us nowhere. Original thinking and real listening is what we need.
If innovative, can-do, American thinking was ever needed to stimulate the private sector and grow a whole new layer of jobs across this still-proud nation, the time is now. Let's reward the brainiacs as much as the smooth talkers. Most of us would much rather go to work in the morning than have a sweet eulogy spoken over our careers by a politician who cares...but doesn't get it.
It starts with each of us. Demand specific answers and plans from the cavalcade of candidates coming our way with their slick handouts and sound bite answers. Chew their ears off with some of your better ideas. Chances are, your time with them will feature some of the most productive ideas they'll hear.
For those who really seem to listen...and who have done some homework of their own to get us out of this economic ditch...reward them with your vote, your encouragement, and even a modest donation.
For everyone else, just laugh and tell them to go back to the drawing board.
The time for tough love for our would-be political leaders is now at hand. If they aren't concerned about the common problem of the national and state economy, what in the world are they running for in these times?
We need sound, bold ideas to lift up America's economy, and that's what we will vote for in the next two elections cycles--good ideas, not candidates or parties alone.