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John F. Kimberling Headshot

An Illusion of Choice: Romney or Obama, Does It Matter?

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The final presidential debate with foreign policy as the topic showed once again how little difference there is between the two major political parties. Governor Mitt Romney seemed to agree with President Barack Obama and approve our current policies on Iran, Syria, Libya, and in most other areas.

Both parties must share the blame for past failed policies that have brought us unrest in the Middle East and two long, unsuccessful and expensive wars.

Neither man will tell us his specific plans for the future. Neither will tell us what his ideas are to solve our long-term problems. They both talk in glittering generalities.

We all are told, and many of us believe, we are the best country in the world. Many politicians tell us about our "exceptionalism" -- that we are the best and No. 1 in the world.

We are indeed No. 1 in several categories. We are No. 1 in (a) military spending, (b) small arms ownership, (c) incarceration of our population in prisons, (d) obesity, and (e) energy consumption per person -- to name a few areas in which we lead the world.

We do not fare so well in other areas. We are 14th in the percentage of young people with a higher education, 28th in the percentage of preschoolers enrolled in preschool, infant mortality where 48 other countries do better than us. We rank near the very bottom with the highest rate of children living in poverty. It is estimated that 22 percent of the children in the United States live in poverty. We have worse social mobility than most of Europe, Australia, and Canada. Their children have a better chance of improving their lives than do ours.

In the presidential race, we are being asked to choose between reelecting President Obama and replacing him with Gov. Romney. As we used to say in the Mid-West, we are being asked to buy a "pig in a poke."

Messrs. Obama and Romney speak of our greatness but avoid discussing our decline in the above areas. We do not hear of any specific plans to improve our failing educational system. How can we create jobs in an increasingly complex society when we do not have an educated work force?

What if President Obama is re-elected? We do not know if he has a grand vision for the future. Many think his first term has been marked with timidity and failure to deal with our economic problems. He has not told us what he would do differently in a second term.

Gov. Romney says he was a successful businessman so he knows how to do it. The last very successful businessman to be elected President was Herbert Hoover, and that did not turn out so well!

There is no correlation between success in the private business sector and running the government. A businessman's goal is to generate profits, not increase the payroll and labor expense. Hiring more employees is not the objective of business. And, when things turn down, the first thing a businessman does is fire unneeded employees.

If either has a bold vision and plan for the future, he has kept it to himself. We do not know what either would do to improve the educational system or reverse the rapidly escalating cost of health care... or other pressing problems. We do not know if either has any plan to turn the country around and move it in different direction.

There is no realistic expectation that either the Republican or Democratic Party can provide honesty and imagination. What we need is a third party -- a new political party that is pragmatic, not ideological. A new political party that forges compromise across political lines and can be honest with the American people with new ideas.

My book What this Country Needs (Revised Edition Election 2012) calls for that new party and spells out in great detail some possible new policies in foreign affairs, tax reform, military spending, education and other areas of American life. It details what could be done to make that third party a practical reality.

Among other things, the book points out there are several third parties now which are relatively small in number and membership. They are on the ballot in many states, and they share a number of common policy goals. I suggest as a starting point, all these parties hold a convention to unite and work out a common platform as a beginning of a new viable third party. Named are a few prominent Americans who could lead this new party. There are several, such as Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York, who have the ability and imagination to do so.

Let them come forth and lead a new movement that is honest and realistic and can inspire the American people to do what is necessary to truly make this country the shining city upon a hill.

About the Author

John F. Kimberling is the author of "What This Country Needs: A New Political Party (Revised Edition Election 2012)" (Polimedia Publishing, $4.95) a study of voter alienation and a manifesto for political change. Kimberling is widely known as a leading U.S. litigation specialist, a charter member of the ABA section on litigation, a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, a veteran of two wars, and at various times served in leadership positions in both the Democratic and Republican parties. He was once hailed by The American Lawyer as the "one of the top trial lawyers in the country" and led a panel as moderator on a C-SPAN discussion titled "Is It Time for a New Political Party?"