Paul Buser (OH) and MPA ’09, Contributing Writer
The historic election in front of us takes on a greater significance when considering the next generation to whom we will bequeath our great country. It is the sensible choice to pass along the Republican ideals of freedom, empowerment, and love of country.
Election day has taken on a greater significance this year. Sure there are two candidates who are galvanizing the electorate like no other in recent times. But, for me, it will be an historic day since my first child is due on that day as well (don’t worry, my absentee ballot is in).
As I approach the wonderful day (the birth of my daughter, that is), I have been thinking about a lot of questions beyond how I will pay for her college education. For example, how can I support the massive transfers of wealth from the young and even unborn to the current generations through burgeoning government programs? How can I feel good about bringing her into a world where despite the ideals of hard work I intend to instill in her, the spending binges of her forefathers mean she won’t be able to choose how to apply the fruits of her own labor? Wouldn’t I rather have her live in a world where we encourage success and people advance on the basis of merit instead of the decree of a government bureaucrat?
I want her to live in a place and time in which the collective successes and uniqueness of our great nation should be celebrated. This weekend at the Head of the Charles, I met a self-described ‘liberal’ who found it shocking that people in general would want to put American flags outside of their homes. She told a story about Cambridge’s sister city of Berkeley, California, where she was shocked at the audacity of one Republican who waved Old Glory proudly. While Berkeley and Cambridge are not likely areas in which my family will be raised, I would be pleased if my daughter were to receive an education in either place. However, as a father, why should I have to reach the accommodation of knowing that a top education will likely come from those places where people tend to challenge the founding characteristics (such as freedom, patriotism, and entrepreneurship) of the nation which has ensured the intellectual freedom that makes such institutions of higher learning possible?
As a parent (to-be), I will continue to ask myself these questions and others. And, though entertaining to simply talk about hockey moms and Joe the plumber (or six-pack), the ideology behind the candidates is what I need to consider for my daughter’s sake. Electing an ideology that supports prudent government involvement while erring on the side of citizen empowerment seems like my only choice if I want to bring my daughter into a world where she will have every opportunity that our generation currently enjoys.
Jon Swan (OD) and MPA ’09, Contributing Writer
Like most parents at HBS, I have a few extra worries these days. Not only is the fate of hell week approaching as an EC, but I worry that the American promise offered to our generation may not be there for my two daughters.
The economy has dominated most of the soundbites and debates as of late. The attention is certainly warranted as leaving the economy in President Bush’s hands has been tantamount to leaving our credit card with K-fed for a weekend in Vegas. While not all of our troubles are due to Bush (Congress and Wall Street were at the same proverbial craps table with him), John McCain has supported and will continue to have faith in misguided supply-side policies that makes even the Laffer Curve seem funny.
Obama’s demand-side investments, on the other hand, will increase wealth across the board (e.g. putting money in the hands of those that have a greater propensity to consume is a tested Keynesian expansionary fiscal policy). If these policies are “socialist,” then Obama is Gordon Gecko compared to Hank Paulsen, whose recent moves to nationalize Wall Street would have made Karl Marx salivate. Unfortunately for Americans, McCain’s main response to Obama’s policies has been to remind us that Barack’s middle name is Hussein and that John’s biggest fan is a fake plumber who failed to pay his taxes.
The continuation of failed economic policies isn’t the only driver of my desire to see an Obama presidency. My biggest worry is that Americans no longer want smart people in office. In the evolution of American exceptionalism, we have become boisterous in that being exceptional is somehow un-American. If I want my daughters to become successful, should I be encouraging them to be mediocre? Maybe they should go to Yale?
Obama was raised by a single mom on food stamps in a world where the color of his skin would have statistically made his rise from community organizing to running for President unlikely. McCain almost failed out of the Naval Academy as a legacy admission, cheated on his first wife to marry up the economic ladder, and is somehow trying to say that he is going to get rid of the good ol’ boys club in Washington, of which he has been a card carrying member for almost 30 years.
As a parent, I want my kids to know that America is not about taking the path of least resistance. If it were, we wouldn’t have fought a revolutionary war for our freedom, we wouldn’t have sent a man to the moon, we wouldn’t have battled for women’s suffrage, and we wouldn’t have decried Jim Crow.
Put frankly, the challenges we face are not going to be solved through 20th century policies and by 19th century politicians. They are too real to hand over to someone who is anything but a Maverick when it comes to differing with Bush on economic policies.
We need a fresh look, a quick mind, and a courageous voice to tell Americans the truth that the future is not going to be easy. There is no better person, republican or democrat, white or black, young or old, than Barack Obama to fill this void. With my kids and your future in mind, I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of electing Obama as our next President.