The Green Campaign

03/02/2009 02:56 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Hermene Hartman President, Hartman Publishing Group, Inc.; President, N'DIGO Foundation

This presidential race is serious and the national political tone has changed.

It is no longer about nice Barack Obama and war hero John McCain. It is not about racial pride or racial hatred, for that matter.

It is not about the old man and the new kid.

It is not about gender politics.

The campaign has gone green. It is now about who can turn this economy around.

The fact of the matter is the American economy is the strongest on the face of the planet. And now, this brokering to fend off bankruptcy has led to desperate actions by the government, which has wrecked the world economy.

The recently adopted bailout plan is great, but there are no guarantees that it will work.

How did we get here? That's what I want to know.

Banks closing, banks merging and bailout plans for America's largest financial institutions; the stock market has gone wild; the government is supplying smaller banks with funds.

All signs point in the wrong direction.

Last week, here is what the stocks looked like for some of our largest companies: JP Morgan Chase was down -9.3 percent, a loss of $14.6 billion; Johnson and Johnson was down -15.5 percent, a value loss of $28.8 billion; Wal-Mart was down -14.7 percent, a value loss of $34.5 billion; Walt Disney was down -22 percent, a value loss of $12.2 billion; and McDonald's was down -11.4 percent, down by $7.7 billion. And the granddaddy of losers was General Motors, down by -45.7 percent with a value loss of $2.3 billion.

We are clearly in trouble. Is this a time to buy stocks or to get an offshore bank account?

What is the sign of these times?

In the bail out, the government gave the fat cats $700 billion to save the American economy. Some AIG executives--beneficiaries of a bail out--went to the spa (an executive retreat, they called it) for the week to the tune of over $440,000, courtesy of the American taxpayer.

What would happen if a small business received a government grant and the spa treatment appeared on the budget sheet? Is the jail cell near? The nerve! But if the money is free and the bail out inevitable, why not? A small business most certainly couldn't get away with what the AIGers did. Try applying for a grant and writing down "spa treatments" on the line and watch what happens!

What happens to the small business bail out?

What happens to those who have worked diligently supplying goods and services? Do we get a chance to visit the spa? Or do we get the brutal punishment of "sink the ship"?

Last week was one of the worst business weeks I have personally experienced.

We made it and I am blessed, but wow. How many sleepless nights and stressful days can you take?

I used every positive thinking Oprah Winfrey tip I knew.

This is a time for a cool head and to be forever prayerful. Part of last week's stress was that eight out of every 10 people I spoke to said things like, "For the first time ever, I missed my mortgage payment;" or, "I don't know how long I will be able to hold on." I spoke to a friend in government and she said, "Pray for me, I don't know if I am among the layoffs and I have been with the city for 30 years."

One corporate executive told me, "Sales were down 25 percent, and the company was going to pot and all of the MBA-types could not figure it out." Another told me, "We will make it through 2008 because of retail sales, but 2009 is highly questionable."

My point:

The little guy and the big guy are suffering.

The entrepreneur and the corporate person are confused.

We hear our governments are raising taxes out of necessity. Illinois taxes are the highest in the land. Have you received your real estate tax bill yet? Mayor Daley in a very quick deal just granted a 99-year lease to a private firm on Midway Airport in order to give the city a couple of billion dollars in cash flow. Was this smart, dumb or downright necessary?

What are we doing and where are we going? I think small business owners should write their legislators and ask for bail out money--spa not included.

Barack Obama is destined to become the next president of the United States. McCain and his fear tactics have become desperate actions of hardcore Republicans, where even he at his own political rally had to defend the foolish scare talk about Obama.

And his running mate, Mrs. Sarah Palin, has consistently been reduced to a "Saturday Night Live" skit, literally.

This is Monday Morning real.

The American government has become scary. The lesson to be learned is the "C" student is not the one for leadership. Obama will be called upon to become a Theodore Roosevelt-type president. The economic predictions are that it will get worse before it gets better. Indeed, it will change. I do not necessarily know that the change is what he wanted or spoke of, but nevertheless, change will come.

Obama will have to save the country, and I pray that he will.

And he must measure up to his presidential hero, Abraham Lincoln, as he considers this crisis.