The
two major contenders for the 2008 election are experience (McCain)
versus inexperience (Obama). Obama's inexperience is disturbing in
that he appears to have disregarded the elected seats he occupied to
continue climbing the political ladder. Once elected, he effected
little, if any, change. Obama's political career is one of meteoric
trajectory from an obscure Illinois legislator to a short-lived U.S.
Senator (only two years into his six-year term before he hit the
presidential campaign trail) to the Democratic nominee for president
with a very good chance of winning the highest office in the land -
all with nothing backing his eligibility except good communication
skills and nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars.

I
believe that Obama's handlers read the country's need for change
very well. He adopted the two slogans of "Hope" and "Change"
and he was instantly electable, which explains the Democratic
leadership's attraction to him. By staying on this message during a
time of collapsing confidence in the Bush administration, Obama
transformed his candidacy into a symbol of hope and change that
Americans are desperately seeking.

Sadly,
Obama is just that - a symbol, and nothing more, at least according
to his record. He has contributed precious little to the political
landscape, and accomplished virtually nothing in the eight years of
his watch. This is evidenced by only three of his bills passing in
the Illinois Senate, where he declined to cast a decisive vote 130
times, instead declaring "present" as a means of avoiding
accountability for legislation that may prove detrimental to his
future candidacies. In the U.S. Senate, Obama has only passed one
bill. What part of this feeble participation suggests any ability to
lead? His record more accurately reflects a self-serving political
agenda that similarly characterizes the deficient Congress we are
currently saddled with, and certainly reflects the antithesis of
change, let alone hope.

On
the other hand, McCain's experience in Congress for 22 years makes
him a major contributor to the ethically anemic legislature that has
brought us to this terrible place in history. Ironically, he was
investigated during the S&L bailout in the '80s and exonerated
by his peers. However, his close ties to the primary culprits of that
fiasco, while not criminal, are also an indictment of his character
by way of his associations.

That
is not to say that experience automatically equals leadership. McCain
has passed numerous bills during his tenure, claiming himself a
maverick of reform. He cites his sponsorship of the McCain-Feingold
campaign-finance-reform bill to his detriment. That bill did
absolutely nothing to reform campaign finance, evidenced by the
unprecedented and obscene $1 billion for this 2008 election. In fact,
this bill further impeded third-party candidates from running and
seriously undermined the First Amendment relative to activism.

The
same can be said of Obama's past affiliations. While not criminal,
they too cast a shadow over his competence as leader of the free
world. More importantly, his deliberate deception about several of
these associations completely undercuts his credibility.

And
while there is no question that McCain showed exemplary courage
during his captivity, he demonstrated an equal amount of recklessness
in his crashing airplanes five different times during his naval
service.

Most
important is not
how these two candidates are different, but how they are alike.
This was demonstrated
clearly in their rush to Congress to exert their considerable
influence to pass the $700-billion bailout, with no due diligence.
Obama's largest contributors are Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and
Goldman Sachs. Warren Buffet is one of his financial advisors, who
bought equities in the institutions receiving bailouts. The ties
cannot be ignored and still claim Obama as an agent of change.

Obama's
choice of Joe Biden as his VP is further evidence of a fundamental
sameness. Biden has been in Congress for 30-plus years. There are few
senators that have that kind of ongoing longevity as a lawmaker, or
culpability for the self-serving, corrupt entity that Congress has
become. If Obama really meant business with regard to change, the
last person he would choose would be Biden, who embodies an
entrenched legislature incapable of change.

Palin's
inexperience in governance makes McCain's selection of her as VP
also highly suspect. For a self-proclaimed maverick herself, she has
stepped in line to a beat that is as far from reform as Biden is
close to the status quo. It is wholesale hypocrisy at its zenith.

Both
candidates make promises they simply can't or won't keep. They
had better opportunities to advance the causes they claim are most
important to them, such as health-care reform, while they were in the
Senate, but did nothing. No president can implement the lofty
programming each is promising without Congress, so to claim otherwise
is disingenuous. And even if either candidate could, once elected,
influence Congress to pass such legislation, it is unfundable at this
juncture. So at the end of the day, all this campaign talk is cheap
deception.

So
why do we Americans abdicate our political instincts, knowing that
our vote has real power and thus can wield enough influence during
elections to exact the kind of change we demand? Instead we redraw
the line a little further back each time, giving up our collective
political will to the smoothest talker. Have we devolved so far into
apathy and civic impotence that we deliver up our vote unchallenged
to the candidates' repetitive sound bites? And when did it become
acceptable to tolerate outright lies and deliberate deception from
our presidents and presidential candidates? Overlooking such
deception from the country's highest office has cost us world
respect, and obviously our civic self-respect. Lies invariably
indicate innate cowardice. Accepting such conduct absolves our
leaders from moral accountability. Their arrogance is infused with
disrespect/disdain toward voters for accepting the transgressions in
the first place.

And
why do we allow our political debates to be controlled by the two
major parties that couldn't care less about Americans, but whose
single-minded agenda is to elect one of two parties' (Republican or
Democrat) candidates. Do not think for a minute that these two
parties represent different ideologies. If that were true, the
Republicans would have denounced the Bush Administration years ago,
and the Democrats would have withdrawn support from the Barney Franks
of the world.

Republicans
and Democrats have quietly merged into one party. They conspire
behind the scenes to keep each other in control at the expense of
third-party candidates and alternative voices. The leadership of
these parties deliberately perpetuates the notions of difference to
keep Americans opposing each other at the polls, and their eyes off
the real ball. This ensures the status quo and so far it has worked
like a charm.

Voters
need to shake things up in a meaningful way by voting the incumbent
senators and representatives out of office. Elect the challengers to
the campaigns wherever possible. This will not only send the
strongest possible message that we've had enough, but it replaces
legislators who ignore us with ones who have a mandate to do
something different - implement real "change." If
we reelect the incumbents, we are sending an endorsement of their
leadership, and a clear message that we accept the current state of
things, including the economy, and do not want anything to change.

As
for the presidential election, there are third-party candidates on
the ballot - some liberal, some conservative. Voting for a
third-party candidate, such as the Green Party, the Constitution
Party, the Libertarian Party, or the Peace & Freedom Party, is in
no way a wasted vote. In order for these independent third parties to
be on any state's next general election's ballot (2012), they
must win 2 to 5 percent of the vote in the previous general election
(2008). Therefore, by voting for a third-party candidate, you are
helping to ensure that third parties are represented and available
for candidacy in the next election. This is critically important and
hardly a waste of your vote. In fact, under the current political
circumstances, I would say casting a third-party vote would be
considered a supremely patriotic act.

 

Say
Yes to Michael Elliott for Auditor

Which
brings me to our one and only three-way local race, the Scott County
auditor, between Republican Steve Ahrens, Democrat Roxanna Moritz,
and independent Michael Elliot.

Jeff
Ignatius summed it up best in last week's Reader:
"Put simply, he's [Elliott has] turned a campaign that was bound
to be about personality and party into one about issues and political
philosophy."

Scott
County citizens are fortunate that Elliott even got into the race as
the independent candidate. His two opponents are quintessential
examples of "perpetuating the myth" as viable candidates for a
position that requires stewardship, not partisanship.

And
if previous outcomes during Moritz's and Ahrens' terms as
aldermen on Davenport's city council are any indication, then we
can expect the auditor's office to be ruled by partisanship and/or
incompetence, should either of them win the race.

Elliott
is the only candidate to take voting integrity seriously and not
to take our current paper-ballot system for granted. Despite his
opponents' unified efforts to cast Elliott's stance on protecting
voting integrity in Scott County as irrelevant, Elliott has
persevered and taken a committed stand on keeping previous auditor
Karen Fitzsimmons' legacy for clean, successful elections intact by
maintaining a paper-ballot system despite huge pressure from her own
Democratic party.

To
educate citizens about the threats to freedom without a paper ballot
system, Elliott has been hosting free film screenings in libraries of
the gripping documentary Uncounted:
The New Math of American Elections
.

Paper
ballots are the central topic relative to the current election and
its successful tabulation. Numerous counties are struggling with
myriad new mandated voting systems, especially computerized ones. Not
only are these systems inaccurate and faulty, and they have
questionable programming, but there are no reliable remedies for
verifying votes or for recounting votes by precinct, county, state,
etc. Just examine Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, or any other state
that has reported voting nightmares in the past two elections.

With
the unprecedented vote expected next Tuesday, Elliott's knowledge
of, and commitment to, the continued use of paper ballots, including
a post-election-audit policy, is monumentally reassuring. He
demonstrates a keen sense of respect for the current staff in the
auditor's office. His passion for the constitutionally protected
right to vote should inspire confidence on the par of Scott County
voters that is unmatched by his opponents.

Elliott
is a refreshing choice in that as the independent candidate he has no
political baggage. Moritz and Ahrens are rife with it and owe
allegiances that will not serve Scott County citizens. This office is
best served by a neutral auditor, certainly not by someone so
entrenched in local partisan politics to the degree that defines both
Ahrens and Moritz. These two candidates are career politicians or
political appointees, whichever pays better. And partisanship is the
only thing that distinguishes their careers, evidenced by the various
offices they have each run for over the past decade. As their records
will attest, both Moritz and Ahrens supported special interests at
the expense of taxpayers, from improper use of tax-increment
financing for urban sprawl to fast-tracking the boondoggle riverfront
casino development deal that never materialized. And Moritz has a
history of vindictively firing public employees, evidenced by the
ordeal with city attorney Mike Meloy as one example.

Elliott
has the background in management at big-box retail stores that is
more than sufficient to serve as the steward of an office with fewer
than 10 staffers. He is an entrepreneur and small-business owner, so
he understands the needs of the customer/voter/taxpayer/resident come
first. His passion for constitutional law and the history of the role
of government in our lives will bring a perspective to the political
dialogue in Scott County that is desperately needed both here and
nationwide. His ideas to increase the transparency in Scott County
finance reporting may be threatening to the establishment, but it is
just another example of how Elliott will be a citizen advocate first
rather than a partisan party operative.

We
respectfully and enthusiastically encourage Scott County voters to
cast their ballots for Michael Elliott on Tuesday, November 4.

 

Premium Content: