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Opinion

Opinion

U.S. electing a president, not a messiah

October 5, 2011

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Listening to some establishment Republicans grousing about the field of GOP presidential candidates should serve as a warning. Republicans, if they are not careful, are in danger of catching the same virus that infected Democrats in 2008.

That would be a messiah complex, the belief that one man (or woman) can deliver us from our collective economic, social and foreign policy “sins” and bring redemption to a nation from the consequences of too many wrong-headed choices.

Perhaps a Republican president with a 60-vote, veto-proof Senate majority and an expanded House majority might be able to revolutionize government, but only if squishy Republicans in both bodies went along, which seems problematic, especially on big issues.

Even if they did go along, does anyone believe Congress — even with a large Republican majority — would dismantle the Department of Education, as Ronald Reagan called for in 1982? Would Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid finally be restructured in a way that allowed current and soon-to-be retired people to stay on these programs, while offering a market-based, choice alternative to younger workers? Maybe.

Would the hard left and their acolytes in the media stand for this? Unlikely. Would Republicans, who too often have cowered at their own shadow, retreat from doing the big things because of demonstrations in the streets? Quite possibly. Would the amoeba wing of the party retreat in the face of charges they are “heartless” and “cruel”? Predictably.

There is a way to accomplish all of these things and more. The strength and heart of America is not in Washington. It is in “we the people.” Where is the Republican presidential candidate who will say, “I am not your savior; I can’t do more for you than you can do for yourself”? Why aren’t they telling the stories of Americans who have overcome difficult circumstances with hard work and right choices, urging us to follow those examples? Ron Paul gets close, but he’s the crazy aunt in the attic on too many other important issues.

We must relearn the virtues that prospered in previous generations. Forgetting them has contributed to a growing underclass and bloated government. No politician, no government, can shape a life better than the individual living it. Class envy doesn’t start a business, or grow one.

Tearing down the wealthy and successful because they lived by principles that made them that way is not a prescription for building up others so they might become wealthy and successful. Why don’t more people understand what politicians are doing to them and how they are harming their chances to achieve their American dream?

We know what works. History has taught us, or would, if we paid attention to its lessons.

Republican presidential candidates should be talking about what they will not do and then speak of plans to clear a better path to success for those who would get up and walk it. Tell people to stop waiting for the government bus that will drop them off where they started with little to show for the journey; build wealth, don’t steal it from others; eliminate unnecessary regulations; reform the tax code so that everyone contributes something to America because we all benefit from freedom; learn again to live within our means and stop envying others. All these are good for starters.

They should also promise, if elected, to require every agency and program to justify its existence. If any work currently being done by government can be done better and at less cost by the private sector, it should. If any are outdated, inefficient or unnecessary, they should be ended and the money saved applied to our crushing debt.

Most of all, Republican presidential candidates should tell Americans they can’t save us. Only we can save ourselves, at least in the secular sense. The Founders gave us a great document — the Constitution. Now the question is, to paraphrase Ben Franklin, can we keep it? You people aren’t messiahs, anymore than President Obama, but you might be apostles of the Constitution.

Cal Thomas is a columnist for Tribune Media Services. His email address is tmseditors@tribune.com

Comments

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whats_going_on 2 years, 6 months ago

Wait, you mean that Hermie is NOT the Messiah? fml.

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rockchalk1977 2 years, 6 months ago

Poll: Voters fear worse economy with Obama. Only 29% say the economy will get better if Obama is re-elected. "The trend isn't good for President Barack Obama," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "His disapproval has gone up 9% since the summer.

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2011/10/poll-voters-fear-worse-economy-with-obama/1?csp=24&kjnd=XXRvfq7Z%2B1bf4BoBZO9B5qjkpsPtn4lxewdqb4ttp8UQpQdSFerL/GJ2gRAierX6-9548aad2-bb42-4283-a3b8-e4f6598cc517_a6Zdg6kxeecny61qIGPIqIQ4MBkN010ou8

January 20, 2013 the end of an error!

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jayhawklawrence 2 years, 6 months ago

No one has yet been able to explain to me how the Tea Party austerity plan for America makes any sense and ending your economic analysis by calling Obama a socialist is not a convincing argument.

In fact, none of the arguments put forth by the Republicans makes any sense. Therefore, the longer a Republican candidate is under the microscope of political analysts and the American people the less attractive they will appear as a President.

My prediction is that Romney will continue to lead because he is the closest to being a normal person and the VP candidate will not come from this field.

I would also predict that Obama will probably not win the election but his best days will come after leaving office.

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its_just_math 2 years, 6 months ago

That Holder has not already been long gone is very telling about Obama's Chicago brand of corruption. Can Obama contain all the corruption for another year? I doubt it.

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Flap Doodle 2 years, 6 months ago

CNN and CBS are both beginning to devote some attention to the high crimes of the current administration. We may yet see Holder behind bars before the 2012 election.

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kernal 2 years, 6 months ago

Regardless of whether or not I agree with the content of Cal's opinion, that headline is spot-on!

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blue73harley 2 years, 6 months ago

Of course, if he did run he couldn't use the slogan of "Get Kinky in the Whitehouse" since Clinton holds the trademark on that one.

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blue73harley 2 years, 6 months ago

I'm still hoping that Kinky Friedman will run.

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75x55 2 years, 6 months ago

My, my, my - do I detect a lot of stress and angst in the left? I do believe I hear that distinctive cracking voice of irrationality of the closet commies realizing that the big moment is nearly over.

Panic-stricken fools.

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beatrice 2 years, 6 months ago

The headline should read "U.S. re-electing a president, not a messiah," rather than just "electing."

Thought I would correct that little typo.

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kugrad 2 years, 6 months ago

Cal bleats, "Tearing down the wealthy and successful because they lived by principles that made them that way is not a prescription for building up others so they might become wealthy and successful. Why don’t more people understand what politicians are doing to them and how they are harming their chances to achieve their American dream?"

Ohh, the poor ultra-rich! They worked so hard to inherit their money. Those nasty politicians just keep giving them such a hard time! Tax cut after tax cut after tax cut. How can they stand it! How will they ever reach their American dream - you know, to be ultra-rich? Can't those crazy politicians see that asking them to pay their fair share, or, gasp, even a tiny bit extra, that restoring their taxes to the previous level, an increase of less than 3% would just cause them to be torn down and give up? Ohh, the misery, the injustice.

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verity 2 years, 6 months ago

Perry seems like G W Bush on steroids. I think he would be more dangerous than Bush. I don't believe that he believes in Christian fundamentalists principles---I think he is an opportunist and will say anything he thinks he needs to say to be elected. Perry's debate performance may actually be a positive for him---just a good ol' boy, not one of those East Coast Elites.

It's just too early to tell who the Republican candidate will be---remember 2008? May be someone we haven't even heard of yet.

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tomatogrower 2 years, 6 months ago

"That would be a messiah complex, the belief that one man (or woman) can deliver us from our collective economic, social and foreign policy “sins” and bring redemption to a nation from the consequences of too many wrong-headed choices."

Yet all the conservatives are blaming Obama for not doing all this. Why can't we expect a Republican to do all this?

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ThePilgrim 2 years, 6 months ago

Hillary will switch places with Biden on the Dem ticket. Mark my words.

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its_just_math 2 years, 6 months ago

Messianic qualities are all Obama worshipers ever wanted. They don't care then now about leadership and substance; they don't care now. He, to directly quote Harry Reid, could be the first black president and was “light-skinned” and had “no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”

This is all that the Obama worshipers need to know. Leadership, schmeadership. So long as it's not a Republican, right?

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voevoda 2 years, 6 months ago

Romney could make a responsible president, if he stops repudiating his own record as governor of Massachusetts. Imagine the Massachusetts health care system extended to the entire country--it could accomplish more than the watered-down plan Obama finally got Congress to pass. But given how much Romney has backtracked on his middle-of-the-road positions in hopes of placating the Republican right-wing, it's difficult to figure out what, exactly, he might do as president.

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Paul R Getto 2 years, 6 months ago

B: Perhaps. Cain is an interesting fellow. Business and government are quite different and the simplistic efforts to compare the two are sometimes quite precious. For starters, most businessmen don't have 535 people who can second-guess them and thwart their efforts. Romney will be the nominee and if he picks a VEEP wisely, he might give the President a good run for it. Gonna be a fun election season; hang on to your hats.

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beatrice 2 years, 6 months ago

What do others think of a Romney / Cain ticket? Is it even possible?

Romney is the odds on favorite pick for the Rs, since Perry likely won't improve in the coming debates. He just doesn't appear ready for politics outside of Texas. Cain, on the other hand, is making a move in popularity and seems rather likable -- I don't agree with much he is saying and probably wouldn't vote for the ticket, but he isn't a disagreeable sort. He might liven up Romney a bit as well. Romney is just way too slick for his own good. (I've always said Romney reminds me of John Edwards in that used-car salesman kind of way. I just never knew Edwards would turn out to be even worse than he seemed.)

In seeking a real conversation, do you think it is possible and do you think they could win?

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jayhawklawrence 2 years, 6 months ago

Translation: Rick Perry was a major bust.

Other major busts of late:

Sarah Palin Michelle Bachmann Ron Paul

About the only two people left standing are a liberal Republican who will say anythng to get elected and a Black Conservative who says Black people are brainwashed.

You are right Cal Powers. Expectations need to be much lower than they were a couple of months ago.

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beatrice 2 years, 6 months ago

It was the frustrated Republicans, knowing they weren't going to maintain the White House after the great unhappiness the nation felt over George Bush, who came to calling Obama the messiah or the anointed one (a phrase that totally dismisses American voters). They were desparate and trying to throw anything at Obama in the hopes it would stick. I can understand why they did this, and why they are trying to resurrect it. The writing is already on the wall of how uninspiring the current group of Republicans is, hence the desire to keep looking for the next great candidate -- first it was Perry, then Christie, now ... nobody. The desperation is beginning to show, just at a time when Obama might have appeared vulnerable.

Democrats certainly don't call Obama a messiah, and certainly no one of any credibility would repeat it. What Cal mistakes for hysteria was a massive sigh of relief to finally be past Bush's presidency. It just felt like such a monumental change because Bush was just that unpopular, adding to it the collapsed economy in the last months of Bush's watch.

It is only Hannity, Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Thomas and the religious conservative (in a different way) Farrakhan who call Obama a messiah. Democrats just recognized him as the seemingly best candidate at the time.

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voevoda 2 years, 6 months ago

Cal Thomas kept warning--the working poor, I suppose--against "envying" the rich. He would have done better to pair that warning with a couple of others. To the working poor: stop idolizing the rich. They aren't morally superior; in fact, too often they are outrageously self-indulgent, expending for personal frivolity funds that could be used to better our country. To the rich: stop being greedy. Content yourself with a comfortable, but not ostentatious, lifestyle, and remember your obligations to your country and to the less fortunate. Usually Cal Thomas is so keen on invoking his Christian faith; why not follow Christ's teachings here?

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verity 2 years, 6 months ago

First off, I will say that I didn't read the article, just skipped to the comments. Usually have a really hard time making myself read Mr. Thomas.

We, the people, are the ones who are going to have to make the changes that need to be made in our country. Neither party is going to do it and the chance of a third party becoming viable any time soon is pretty low.

Hence, we see the demonstrations and occupations. You may not agree with those but I think that is the only way we are going to see any change. I just wish that instead of people making a knee jerk reaction to "liberals" or "conservatives" or investing in ideologies, they would actually think about what works, whether it fits their preconceived notions or not.

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Paul R Getto 2 years, 6 months ago

AGNO: Sad to see, I must admit. Christie may run sometime, but he better lose some weight. We are not going to elect a fatty from either party. The requirements to run for president (+ $$$ of course) are to be taller than average, have good teeth, a full head of hair and be able to walk, talk and think at the same time. I think Sarah is about ready to jump in; that will make it even more interesting. It's been this way since 1952, the first time the conventions went on live television.

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jafs 2 years, 6 months ago

He has a point - many people seem to idealize political candidates, and look for them to do more than is even constitutionally acceptable.

That's how they generally get elected, by telling voters they'll do what they want.

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Agnostick 2 years, 6 months ago

"U.S. electing a president, not a messiah"

If that's true, then why has every recent debate between the Republican candidates been revered like some extremist political Council of Trent?

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Paul R Getto 2 years, 6 months ago

"Most of all, Republican presidential candidates should tell Americans they can’t save us. Only we can save ourselves,. . ." ======== Good point, Mr. Thomas, and one with which I can agree. Pogo is still right.

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FalseHopeNoChange 2 years, 6 months ago

Messiah or not from either party, it will not make a difference considering what there is to work with. Americans ain't what they used to be. Now that the boomers are retiring to the Villages, what's left in their economic wake, is just bobbing driftwood.

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Flap Doodle 2 years, 6 months ago

The MSM will never go in the tank for a Republican like they did for the Democrats in 2008.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 6 months ago

Sounds like a Republican "messiah" is precisely what Cal wants. Or, perhaps, just a dictator.

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Getaroom 2 years, 6 months ago

....Math: More racist blabber. The Party of NO is doing a fine job of undermining itself and well it should considering the hypocrisy under which they clearly operate. All this conservative banter among the Christian Right about who is most conservative reminds me of the Abolitionist movement of the 20's and their unwillingness to reach compromise and remember that Repubs controlled it all then. And what a fine job they did indeed by ushering in the Great Depression. Remember Hoverville in Central Park - something to be proud of? All this political theatre at the expense of the American citizens, who are already struggling. Oh, with perhaps you being the exception, since you are so high and mighty on the socioeconomic ladder - right?

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Gandalf 2 years, 6 months ago

Correction, democrats are trying to elect a president. Republicans are trying to elect another puppet.

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usnsnp 2 years, 6 months ago

That comment about cost of running thing needed to be looked at. There would be a large number of Defense Contractors put out of buisness, they charge two to three times the cost of running things compared to when the military did many of these jobs, but you would have to expand the military. So you either have overpayed civilian contractory or a draft.

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its_just_math 2 years, 6 months ago

I was just thinking the other day about the looks on people's faces and their general reactions when in Obama's presence. They appear to be in the presence of God. It made me feel a bit queasy; of course it always has. The leftist commentators and even those leftist journalists claiming to be presenting hard news are doggedly working to protect Obama. They are working equally as hard to undermine each and every GOP runner.

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Wadde 2 years, 6 months ago

   ' We the People" I somewhat disagree with this document how can the common man knows how government is ran without a Constitution this is why I disagree( the people) would run the government without a Constitution.
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Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 6 months ago

The whole world needs a Messiah right now.

And we're all going to hope that He's going to be on our side.

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