The two branches need a joint effort, not one-party leadership

Tuesday, October 21, 2008 | 10:00 a.m. CDT; updated 2:37 p.m. CST, Monday, February 2, 2009


Hopefully, early on Nov. 5, this seemingly eternal presidential campaign will have reached closure, introducing either an Obama or McCain administration. The immediate impact on our everyday existence, locally as well as nationally, will actually be quite negligible — a president’s power to effect change is a limited one.

Let's talk: Columbia and the presidency

The United States will go to the polls to elect a new president on Nov. 4. Before we go to the polls, let's have a conversation about how our lives here in mid-Missouri will be impacted.

Tell us: How will Columbia be affected by the next president?

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To be sure, there will be the trumpeted exaltation of the victors, tempered by the loser’s agony of defeat. Nevertheless, our world will not end. President Obama will not signal the onset of socialism, nor will President McCain generate an Alec Baldwin, Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn-led exodus of liberals from our shores. The sun will continue to rise in the east and set in the western sky.

I do hold on to a single but probably futile hope: that regardless of who is elected, we are spared the mindless and endless hatred spawned by the 2000 election and 2004 re-election of President George W. Bush. Is it not time to end the “selected not elected” nonsensical claim that the Supreme Court illegally ceded Florida’s electoral votes to Bush, thereby denying Vice President Gore the presidency? The New York Times, The Washington Post and other news organizations reported on a review of all of Florida’s ballots. The result was that Bush won, end of story.

Here in Columbia we will be most affected by the current uncertainties of both the national and global economies. Whether it is President McCain or Obama, there will be no immediate relief for the marketplace as it will take time for the administration’s corrective measures to take effect as well as for consumer and investor confidence to be restored. The economic difficulty is a worldwide problem, requiring international cooperation rather than political Monday-morning quarterbacking.

Our state and local elections will not be noticeably affected by the vote for president because neither candidate boasts any coattails for others to ride. While Missouri has leaned Republican the last two presidential elections, it remains a “swing state,” illustrating former House Speaker Tip O’Neill’s assertion that “all politics is local.” I don’t foresee appreciable change here, regardless of who wins the governor’s race, the legislature is unlikely to change hands.

As for the probable intermediate to long-term effect, I will attempt to be as honest and objective as an avowed skeptic of “bipartisan politics” can be. I am a believer in honest debate and disagreement. William Wrigley Jr.’s quote, “When two men in business always agree, one of them is unnecessary,” applies. I also retain faith in the Constitution and its checks and balances.

Pragmatically, I am of the opinion that this is not a good time to elect Sen. Obama or any liberal Democrat. If we are to believe the polling trends, the Democratic Party will gain seats in both houses of Congress. Accordingly, an Obama administration would conceivably be enabled to orchestrate policies and appointments with virtually no curb on its appetite for social engineering. A real danger of intractable one-party control is the burdening of states with unfunded mandates.

There are several historical examples of these unfunded mandates — one was President Clinton’s 100,000 policemen on the streets. The federal government is very prone to lay out money for initially well-intentioned programs only to leave the states holding the bag when budget time rolls around again.

Additionally, I am troubled by the populist wealth redistribution scheme disguised as a promise to cut taxes for everyone earning less than $250,000 per year and a middle-class tax cut three times that proposed by McCain. Sen. Obama’s intent to raise taxes on capital gains renders this an impossible dream. There are millions depending upon capital gains income who earn far less than $250,000.

Conversely, while Sen. McCain has yet to gain any real traction with the voters, he shows strengths in experience, knowledge of national defense issues and a demonstrated ability to reach across party lines. That last attribute has not endeared him to many in his own party, but since when is leadership a popularity measure?

We would be better served this time around without one-party control of both the executive and legislative branches. The current economic and defense issues demand no less than a joint effort. Gridlock may impede progress when the alternative is profligate entitlement financed by taxation in the guise of investment, but one must wonder who will pull the wagon when we all climb aboard.

The redeeming feature in the equation is the voter. Should the polls be accurate, but the elected administration bomb, the legislature will change hands in two years courtesy of the wisdom of our founding fathers.

J. Karl Miller retired as a colonel in the Marine Corps. He is a Columbia resident and can be reached via e-mail at

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chris macy October 27, 2008 | 10:08 a.m.

Why am I confident that you felt no such reluctance to pack both the House & Senate with Republicans along side Bush in 2000 & 2008?

This is just another desperate, last-ditch effort of the Republicans to avoid what appears to be a massive landslide for Obama & the Democrats!

Missourians aren't as stupid as Republicans believe them to be.

(Report Comment)
chris macy October 27, 2008 | 10:09 a.m.

Oops! Obviously, I meant "2000 & 2004"!

(Report Comment)
Theo Roosevelt October 29, 2008 | 1:58 p.m.

This is the most inane column I've read in quite a while. We are currently in the midsts of two wars both of which are going poorly and our financial institutions are teetering on collapse. Foreclosures are skyrocketing, unemployment is increasing dramatically and health insurance is all but unaffordable for anyone earning less than $50,000 a year. Mr. Miller, your argument appears to be that the folks who got us into this mess should be part of the process to get us out not because they have seen the error of their ways but rather because lefties were rude in 2000 (nice try with the "Bush won" lie), Clinton was a tax and spend liberal, and Barack wants to raise the capital gains tax.

(Report Comment)

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