Now that Halloween is past, a more frightening nightmare is rising: it’s time for mid-term exams and some of us haven’t been to class yet. We don’t even know where the class is meeting.
That is to say, election day is next Tuesday.
I’d like to take a little of the pre-exam terror away, today.
To begin with, before you go to the polls next week, take a hard look at the state of the nation. So far, after the collapse of the dot-com bubble and the ensuing recession (which began in 1999), after the initial economic uncertainty following the monstrous attack upon our soil, the stock market and the job market have both held a steady rate of incline. We, as a nation, have seen steady growth. National unemployment figures are the lowest they’ve been in decades. Much of that comes from “Bush’s tax cuts to the rich” -- you know, the people who hire other people had a little money left to them, so they used it to boost the economy year after year. Some Democrats have promised to get rid of that tax cut if they get the majority. That’s question one on the test. Keep the economy growing, or tax it away?
Question two is a little tougher: some of the Republicans haven’t had a stellar record when it comes to fiscal responsibility.
The more they spend on pork, the harder it is for the rest of the nation to catch up to the boom. So, choosing between a tax-and-spend Democrat and a tax-and-spend Republican won’t be easy.
Now let’s take into consideration a one-shot event which affected the nation as adversely as Congress does on a daily basis.
We suffered an attack. Yeah, it’s been more than five years ago. That’s why it’s a big deal. Somebody cares enough to see to it that it hasn’t happened again. We can’t delude ourselves into thinking that people have stopped wanting to kill American civilians. That hatred didn’t start in September of 2001, and didn’t end then, either. Efforts made by police, intelligence agents and analysts, and others have done the job well enough that most of us go about our daily lives without once thinking about threats to our lives.
Part of that success comes from keeping most of al Qaeda’s assets tied up in battles in Iraq and Afghanistan. They aren’t blowing up Americans on American soil, because, as it is pointed out endlessly, they’re killing soldiers overseas. But the soldiers are getting theirs, and then some. How many of Osama’s “second-in-commands” have been taken out over the last three years? How many of Saddam’s tools are now captured or dead? Next, how many Iraqis voted in a free election last January? Of course, Iraq’s democracy is not stable, yet, but then, neither is France’s, and they say they’ve been working on creating a democracy since about the time our Constitution was ratified. If you really think that a nation where a despot spent thirty years murdering innocents can instantaneously turn on a dime, and -- with no real cost to us or them -- become a free and peaceful land, by all means vote for the fairy godmother of your choice. The choice isn’t all that hard, on this question.
Of course, if you haven’t done your homework by now on the many other topics, from fetal stem cell research to “culture of corruption” to voting from the grave, and all the other courses of study, it may be too late. The exam is Tuesday. Just don’t think you can peek over somebody else’s shoulder, or get the answers from those ads on tv. Not only didn’t they study for the test, but they’re the ones showing up naked and hung over. They’re lucky if they get a single answer right.
Me, I’ve done my reading. I’ll probably review my notes on Monday night, but over the weekend, I expect to relax and enjoy a little art and culture: tomorrow (Saturday) night, at 7:00, the Monmouth Civic Orchestra will be playing an evening of chamber music at the Dahl Chapel, in Monmouth College’s Kasch Auditorium. I hope you will take a break from your political studies and come join me and my friends for the pleasure of melody. It could help you clear your head. It may also be the one truly pleasant thing you hear this coming week.