My Turn: Santa, here's my list

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 12, 2011

By Bruce La Rue
It is never too early to begin compiling one’s Christmas list. With presidential primaries mere months away, and the presidential election now less than away, it seems like as good a time as any to submit a list to Santa.
First, I wish that at least one Republican presidential candidate would show some backbone. With the exception of the charmingly unelectable Ron Paul, the candidates are excruciatingly careful when giving what amounts to a non-answer, fearful of giving the wrong answer. In all fairness, a couple of them bowed up during the recent debate at Wofford. Still, I wish at least one of them would give the kind of response that Dennis Miller suggested candidate Bill Clinton should have given. “Yeah, I smoked pot. And I inhaled. Then I drank the bong water. What are you gonna do about it”? The fear of media micro-scrutiny and hyper-analysis has rendered them all weak as water. Rick Santorum was grilled into a state of incoherence by Chris Wallace of Fox News. Not about Social Security reform, corporate tax rates, Iranian nukes or any of a number of pressing issues that most voters would like to, and need to, hear about from a candidate. No, the pressing subject was gays in the military.
When allegations of sexual harassment first arose, I wish Herman Cain had said something like, “I did nothing which could reasonably be construed as sexual harassment. Even if I did, should it disqualify me to be president? Were it not for the 22nd amendment, Bill Clinton, with his record of sexual misconduct, would still be president. You’re jamming ME over some suggestive comments? Next question.” Just because some snit-brat reporter asks a question, it does not mean you have to answer it. If it is a stupid question or an obvious attempt at a “gotcha” moment, stare down the inquisitor, sigh audibly and say, “Next question, if there be one among you who can muster one that is minimally intelligent, cogent, and relevant.”
Next on the list would be items which, if carried out by the next president and Congress, would go a long way toward fulfilling my wish for a better nation for my children and grandchildren.
First, eliminate the Department of Education as it exists at the federal level. Keep enough staff to cut 50 checks per year to each of the states based on the number of school-age children in each state. No more nonsense about withholding highway funds because of a curriculum unsuitable to the feds. Each state can then decide if it wants to give vouchers a try.
Next, implement a flat-rate income tax rate of 15 percent; no deductions, no loopholes. Such a simplification should result in a reduction in workforce at the IRS of at least 11,000, or roughly the same number of IRS workers added by Obamacare. Oh, yeah, by the way, repeal Obamacare.
I wish that the next president and Congress would have the audacity to overhaul the Social Security system. People who have paid into the system for the last 30 or 40 years will not be hung out to dry, but people entering the workforce or who have been in the workforce a relatively short time will participate in private investment accounts including, but not necessarily limited to, IRAs and 401(k)s. We are a prosperous nation, quite capable of caring for our truly needy. It is a socialist state which claims to be able to care for truly everybody.
Last, but certainly not least, I wish for a leader with courage, vision and strength of character, as well as an electorate willing to vote for character over charisma, substance over symbolism. “Audacity of hope” is a painful example of symbolism over substance. It sounds nice enough but is in fact contradictory. Hope is neither a process nor a strategy, merely an emotion, requiring no action. True audacity denotes boldness, not just bold speech, but actions matching the rhetoric. I remain recklessly optimistic.
Merry Christmas.
Bruce La Rue lives in Mt. Ulla.
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