THE BLOG

Get the Election Back on Track!

01/10/2012 12:46 pm ET | Updated Mar 11, 2012

As we consider which presidential candidate is best equipped to lead us back to prosperity, we must address which ones are most in touch with reality. Judging from recent events, it is clear that too many influential people are overly detached. As the campaign proceeds, the electorate must be most vigilant in order to filter out candidates and approaches that fail to address core issues that impact the lives of all Americans.

Start with President Obama. In laudably seeking to induce businesses to create jobs in the US, he relies upon his familiar approach of simply demanding that they do so and characterizing it as the right thing, rather than furnishing any economic rationale. It appears that during his tenure at Harvard Law School, he missed the portion of the corporation law course indicating that firms have fiduciary obligations to shareholders to maximize profits, and that they must not simply take actions to placate political leaders. Even assuming his argument is that it is economically beneficial for companies to expand in the US, it is presumptuous at best to believe that they would not recognize this for themselves. For centuries, our economy has grown without the president (of either party) telling companies how to manage their businesses. It is naïve to say the least, for this president to believe that he is uniquely positioned to change this tradition. Of course, his virtually complete lack of experience in the private sector only augments the incongruity of his efforts.

Republicans are not immune to this sort of thing either. At least President Obama recognizes the significance of economic issues to the electorate. That is apparently more than can be said for Rick Santorum, who despite nominal attention to economic issues, seems much more interested in preaching his concept of morality. Many of his public statements on the campaign trail seem to emphasize opposition to gay marriage and its alleged connection to economic decline. It is inconceivable how someone can be so out of touch that in a time of generationally high unemployment, they can seriously argue that anyone should care about the gay marriage of someone else.

Unless Sen. Santorum knows something that no one else does about an effort to make such marriages mandatory, which would be highly undesirable to say the least, he should stop insulting our intelligence with revolting, irrelevant comments about "man on dog" and the like, and deal with things that have an unavoidable impact on Americans. Even when he seeks to address tax policy, he should focus on topics which have a material macroeconomic impact, such as marginal tax rates and investment tax rates, and not seek to serve his moral leanings by introducing special tax preferences for those with children.

This writer foresaw some of this "drifting focus" on the part of Republicans back in 2010 and counseled against it, "The elections of 2006 and 2008 were very clear messages that government must "butt out" of peoples' lives where they are doing no harm to anyone else, and focus on issues that actually matter on Main Street, and that Republicans must not be Democrats 'lite' in throwing money at problems.

It will not suffice for Republicans to allow ignorant but charismatic persons, obsessing over the prurient details of strangers' lives, but ignoring issues that greatly impact the masses, to speak for the party." Hopefully these admonitions will be heeded to a greater extent as we move forward than they have been thus far.

Even the supposedly sophisticated private sector is not immune from going off on tangents. Google, which professes to be the epitome of advanced business analysis, seems to have allowed its hiring process to be dominated by the smartest kids in their respective classes who purport to see a connection between someone who feels sufficiently omnipotent to be able to fit into and jump out of a blender jar, and their job performance.

Suffice it to say that this is not the hardheaded, evidence-driven decisional framework that we need to introduce into government to get us back on the road to prosperity.

Without a doubt, the upcoming election will be a pivotal one for America. Make the wrong decision this time, and we may condemn ourselves to one or more generations of European-style stratification and stagnation. We can not afford to let our decisions be dictated by personal bias and irrelevant considerations. Whatever our ideological orientation, we must make sure we focus on the candidate who has the best grasp of what really impacts our lives and the most plausible way of improving things in that regard. We don't have the luxury of worrying about peripheral matters.