Good evening friends, readers, co-workers, and anyone else to whom this post may spread.
I would like to make two quick notes of clarification before I proceed, if I may.
First, given that politics are not usually something I discuss (not because I intentionally avoid them, just because I never saw much of a reason before) I’d like to clear the air, just in case I give an impression like this election matters in the grand scheme of things, as in eternally. My blog usually revolves around spiritual matters, and my spiritual perspective is the same. No matter who wins the election this year or what becomes of the United States of America in the next 50-100 years, my faith statement holds, and my faith doesn’t waiver depending on who’s in office. I don’t see my president as someone who is supposed to carry out the will of God for me, for America, or for the globe. I do believe, however, that we are to steward our gifts. So the way I look at it is that I have been placed as a citizen in the United of States of America which happens to be a democracy, and we have values and ethics and history, and we should do our best to elect someone who will do a good job of stewarding that responsibility. We are a large global presence, and our leader should respect that. So, to the degree that I would expect my president to recognize that weight of stewardship for the presidency, I expect myself and my fellow citizens to recognize the weight of stewardship of our vote.
Second, this post is, in some ways, my endorsement of Rand Paul, the senator from Kentucky (my home state.) His policies, philosophies, and perspective resonate with mine immensely, and I will definitely be spreading his message a little bit here, but I want to put this out there first: I want you to know who you’re voting for and why you’re voting for them. Last time I voted in a presidential election, I went to the polls somewhat discouraged, because I had a feeling that I was voting for the lesser of two evils. Not to mention, I went back and forth and back and forth on who I wanted to vote for; I bravely donned my Rick Santorum 2012 bumper sticker for a little while (how far I’ve come…) and I placed a very unconvinced vote that fed into the big red machine that is the Kentucky electorate; ensuring that Mitt Romney would get Kentucky’s 8 votes.
Don’t be 2012 me. Please, please, please; take this election seriously. Consider it your civic duty. Inform yourself. Watch the debates – republican AND democrat. THINK. THINK. THINK. If you hear a candidate say something you like, think to yourself, “how will that come about?” If you hear something you disagree with, make a note, ask questions, have discussions. If Bernie Sanders tells you college is going to be free, ask the question, “how?” If Rand Paul says he’s going to reduce surveillance on U.S citizens but increase surveillance among domestic terrorists, ask him, “how?”
Think of it as a job interview – someone is trying to literally preside over our country. It’s no small job, it’s no small task. You can’t just boil it down to them saying something nice about God in their answer, or the fact that they like guns, or the fact that they’re pro-gay marriage or anti-abortion or against Common Core. Please take a look at the candidates and decide who you comprehensively agree with. Let this election be one decided by your conscience and intellect, not just the media. Don’t let the candidate with the most money or the best orator win.
It’s said every election, but I sincerely believe that this election is extremely telling of our future as a nation. We have a field of candidates that have very different ideas, and whoever is elected will shape the next four years, which will shape the next four, and the next four, and so on and so forth. The question is this: what’s the greatest challenge facing our nation, and what can we do about it?
It’s not an easy question to answer. Some say ISIS. Some say national debt. Some say problems in our criminal justice system. Some say immigration. Some say climate change. Some say education reform. In a certain sense, it’s up to you to decide which is the biggest problem, but I’d like to argue that it’s our national debt.
Debt is not a healthy thing. It’s a normal thing, but it’s not a healthy thing. Debt is financial slavery, if you boil it down to its purest definition. It’s a liability – a favor someone (whether it’s a person or a corporation) has done for you for which you now owe. And, let’s be clear about this: borrowing more money doesn’t mean you have more money. If I owe $1,800 on a credit card and get within $200 of my limit, I don’t make myself financially stronger by going out and getting another credit card, I make myself weaker. I add liabilities to be placed against my assets.
That’s what’s happening right now with our national coffers. We are spending money out of our ears on federal programs, funding international efforts, the military, education, the prison system, etc. The worst part is that if we took a different stance on some issues, we’d cut our spending immediately, but since we choose certain stances, we choose a lose-lose scenario. For instance, the prison system. If we didn’t criminalize drug use the way we do, we would cut back incarceration significantly, which means that there are less meals on the government’s books, and there are a lot less people for the government to support (because where does money for the care of the inmates come from? That’s right – the government, which in other words is taxpayer money.) So the liberal solution is this: we need more money? Let’s borrow it. Let’s borrow it from other countries, let’s print it at the federal reserve (money which has no actual backing, we’re literally just printing it) or let’s just tax everyone more. But while we’re already overspending, why don’t we try to make college free? Why don’t we try to make healthcare free? So we create more programs, we spend more money, we borrow more money until eventually, we are eighteen trillion dollars in debt. That’s real: we are eighteen trillion dollars in debt. we borrow a million dollars a minute. For every taxpayer in this country, there are $158,000 of debt.
And, the big problem with debt is that the more debt we have, the less of a player we make ourselves in the global economy.
It’s just like personal finance in that regard – you can’t afford to keep outspending yourself. And the more you borrow, the more you owe. And the more you owe, the more people you have to pay off, and the more people you have to pay off, the bigger risk you run of being unable to pay them back.
When you have a credit card, you can spend money on it as long as you make your monthly payment. Maybe it’s $20. Cool. You can afford that. But then you get another one and rack up more debt, now you’re paying $40 a month in MINIMUM credit card payments. But you keep approaching your credit limit on both cards so you get another one. $60. And another. $80. And another. $100. And on and on and one until the income you make isn’t enough to even pay off your credit card bills, let alone pay for everyday expenses.
That’s not EXACTLY what’s happening with this country (I think there may be something to be said for the assets we have, and our assets:liabilities ratio) but it’s not entirely far off, either. We keep raising the debt ceiling (or suspending it altogether) and we haven’t made any progress on the debts we owe.
All that is to say, it seems to me that the biggest problem we face as a nation is one we’ve created ourselves: debt.
I think debt makes us a weaker foreign player. In every respect: the global economy, the ability to fund our military and protect ourselves, the domestic economy, etc. It may not be directly a national security issue, but it is linked to the issue of national security.
Debt is slavery, and slavery, we decided a while back, is not a good thing.
I think debt is just one example of how our government has gotten far too big. Our federal government is into having a say in everything from marriage to drugs to military to economic matters to surveillance to healthcare to college to the education system – we grow federal programs so big that we have to take out a loan to fund them, and we’re weaker for it. A big government doesn’t help anyone. A small government does. A government that will get out of the healthcare business and let the healthcare market regulate itself will get you the best prices; not taxing citizens more to provide a “government-funded” healthcare system.
Our government wants to decide what marriage is instead of leaving that to the states.
Our government (or, at the very least, some of the republican candidates) wants to get involved in overseas conflicts, becoming the world’s policemen when we still struggle with domestic security.
Our government wants to increase surveillance, collecting more and more phone records without the use of a warrant, going against your 4th amendment rights.
Our government (or at least some of the democratic candidates) wants to raise taxes, taking more and more money from out of our pockets to fund their already-too-big programs, and to mandate their educational programs on the states (when it is the state’s right to decide) and cut checks to Iran in prisoner swaps.
Our government is too involved.
It’s gotten bigger and bigger, it continues to get bigger and bigger, we spend more money than we earn and we borrow more money than we can afford to pay off, and at some point, it has to stop.
That’s why I’m voting for Rand Paul.
People criticize Rand Paul for, well…his curly hair, his loud intonation at the first presidential debate, and the fact that he’s running for senate and president at the same time, Rubio calls him an isolationist because he (Rand) thinks regime change is a bad idea and thinks we should get our noses out of foreign business.
(please feel free to search for more of his stances on foreign policy on youtube or on google.)
Donald Trump criticizes him for his poll numbers. Peter King criticized him for wanting to decrease surveillance instead of increase it. Chris Christie wants Rand to go before congress for defending 4th amendment rights.
Is that it? Is that all of the criticism we have against him? If so – I’ll take it. I’ll take a president criticized for defending constitutional rights, for letting the free market be a free market, for not spying on me and my friends, and for knowing when we should and shouldn’t intervene. I’ll take a president who is intellectual and proactive enough to see through the ramifications of his decisions.
Make no mistake: a Rand Paul administration would hurt for a little while. Money might get tight. We might let states make decisions on things that…well, they should be allowed to decide, instead of the government. You might have a little liberty under a Rand Paul administration (God forbid.) But a Rand Paul administration will begin to deal with the problem of massive government, which is a problem we need to fix (and soon) or else the America we know and love will be gone in a few generations.
As much as I’d love to say “mark my words” or “take my word for it” – I don’t want you to take my word for it. I want you to do your research, I want you to listen to the town hall meetings of various candidates, I want you to read their twitter feed, see what they’re about, and make up your mind. Don’t let CNN or MSNBC decide the election before it’s done.