Try It. You’ll Like It.

I have been watching the American election process with some interest.  If a Martian appears, I think he will wonder what it is all about.  Since he knows everything about democracies and elections, he would be incredulous.

From his viewing point, elections are to create a group of people who receive the task of governing.  He would see little of that just now in the United States.  Presently the group of people tasked with governing has made politics the game and governance the cover.

To choose how to vote, a Martian ignores the personalities and the methods that got the Americans to where they are.  Martians are absolute objective realists.  Ours would start with where things are as way to help him decide.  He would not care how they got that way.  His instinct would be to find the problems and opportunities and decide who among the candidates would achieve the most.

  1. He would see a colossal debt that is manageable at today’s interest rates but not at higher rates.  Like 7% or more.  He would see little from the candidates, in the way of a clear approach to resolving that problem.  No help with the decision here.
  2. He would see that the debt is growing and difficult to reverse.  Not a lot to choose.
  3. He would see an inflation overhang from a huge spurt in money supply.  Hard to fix for anyone.  Maybe Romney would try.
  4. The rhetoric surrounding taxes is blinding and disingenuous from both sides.  The tax rate makes no difference, except figuratively.  The rate could be 100% or 1,000% and it would raise exactly the same amount of revenue.  None, in either case.  The base that it applies to makes the difference.  20% of a large base raises more money than 80% of a small base.  Rich people can afford the ways that make the tax dollars due go away and the poor people have nothing to pay with in any case.  No help.
  5. He would see a vast army of regulators imposing their will on every business with the costs passed to the consumer.  Very little here, that clearly distinguishes the candidates.  He might prefer Romney because Obama has demonstrated the willingness to regulate while Romney may instinctively not want as much.
  6. A mostly uninformed voter population.  Many people (over 20%) have no clear idea where government money comes from.  Many believe the rich are taking advantage of them.  Many believe in entitlements as rights but rely on others to give them their entitlements.  As Walter Williams has said, “To what share of my income are you entitled, and why?”  This is not changing regardless of the president until people understand that if they can get something for nothing, someone else must necessarily get nothing for something.
  7. Ideology prevails over reason.  Neither candidate has an edge here
  8. Many voters downplay the worth of skill, self-denial, risk-taking and effort.  Neither candidate is pointing to a different way.
  9. The Martian would see people using safety nets as hammocks.  Neither candidate seems very concerned
  10. He would see social inequality.  He might see that as imposed, but he might also see it as the inability of some to apply simple rules for success to their own lives.
  11. He would see the lack of government effort to enforce existing laws while politicizing the resulting situation.
  12. He would see courts using ideological models for their decisions.
  13. Probably dozens more.

Being eminently practical our Martian friend would accept these as a given, useless to his purpose, and would approach the choice of candidates in a different way

First, he would examine character.  The reason is that you cannot know how a person without integrity will behave.  People of character are predictable.  Similarly, people of character tell you the truth even when it is unpleasant for them to do so.  You get pretty much what you expect from people of character.  Not certain, but on the evidence, advantage Romney

Second, he would examine competence as an executive.  The president is “The Chief Executive.” Competence would be nice.  Many people think executive competence is common.  They also think anyone who can barbeque a hamburger or cook spaghetti can operate a restaurant.  People learn executive skill.  It is not given.  Clear advantage Romney

Charisma is third.  Charisma is important in getting other people to follow you and accept your ideas.  If character is not present at the same time, then it is a serious flaw.  If Obama’s character is not questioned, clear advantage Obama.

Fourth, he would look at the ability to create consensus.  If you govern from power, you do not care about consensus.  If you govern to get the most for the people, you need everyone to be involved and involved with the best ideas.  If you saw the third debate, you noticed that Romney agreed with a number of Obama positions and actions.  That was weakness according to the pundits.  From the Martian’s viewpoint, that shows the ability to use the best ideas, not just your own ideas.  Advantage Romney.

Fifth – Creed.  A candidate with an unshakeable creed is a menace.  A politician serves all the people, not just those with whom he or she shares values.  Tossup.  Both have a clear bias to a certain kind of society.

Lastly, Counselors.  The Obama administration has the impairment that few of his advisers have business experience.  That could be the problem with the economy.  Jan L.A. van de Snepscheut has said, “In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice.  But, in practice, there is.”  On the other hand, it is unclear how Romney will relate to social matters.  Could he appoint some who disagree with his basic ideas?  Toss up.

The future needs a leader who can supply a good answer to the six C’s.  Character, competence, charisma, consensus, creed and counselors.  It is time for politics to take second place behind good governance.  Good politicians are the ones who do what works even when it is not in their own best interest.

The Martian would vote for Romney on the basis that he, predictably, would bring more of the important characteristics of good leaders to the job.  Being a non-resident alien, he will not vote.  Even with photo ID, it would be a particularly dull polling person who failed to notice that he was not from around here.

Other voters can make good use of his analysis.

Try it.  You’ll like it.

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