If you’re planning to vote in our Feb. 5 presidential primary election, better make sure you’re registered before Monday.
And please watch the candidates closely, so you can make an informed choice.
I’ve been watching the candidates very carefully over the past couple of weeks. Of course, it’s my job to follow these things, and I love it. But my work also entails doing lots of talk radio, not only here at home from time to time (I guest-hosted for Darryl Ankarlo at KTAR (92.3 FM) this past Monday), but around the country. And during Christmas week, I was privileged to host a midday talk show in our nation’s capitol at WMAL (630 AM).
So there I was, rummaging around the studio on Dec. 27 reading through the news of the previous 24 hours or so. And as I happened to glance up at a TV monitor tuned to CNN, I was dumbstruck at what I saw.
Sen. Barack Obama was standing at a podium delivering a speech, while the podium displayed two signs attached in the front. One sign bore his familiar “Obama ’08” logo; the other sign bore the theme of his speech: “Safer Toys For Our Children.”
And what a neat thought this was during the week of Christmas. Parents had just finished gift-wrapping likely thousands of toys. Children had just finished unwrapping these toys.
And now many parents and kids were likely deciding whether they would keep the toys or return them or exchange them. And some were likely concerned about the safety of toys manufactured in China.
And here was Obama, assuring Iowa voters than when he becomes president, his administration will work to ensure “safer toys for our children.”
Once again I was reminded that, for most of this past year, watching the presidential campaigns from each of the two major parties has been like watching people in parallel universes. And while all the candidates talk about things that “threaten America,” Democrats and Republicans have very different ideas about what those threats are.
On the left side of the aisle, our nation’s greatest threats are mostly homegrown. In no particular order, the list includes: global warming; pharmaceutical companies; a lack of “free” health care; “tax cuts for the rich;” “partisanship;” oil companies; “the status quo in Washington;” “a lack of good jobs;” increases in college tuition costs; and now, apparently, “dangerous toys.”
On the right side of the aisle, things look different. The list is probably shorter, but seemingly more succinct at the same time. For the Republican candidates the threat list includes: terrorism and the ideology of Islamic extremism; our dependence on foreign oil; taxes; the nation’s insecure borders; out-of-control federal spending; an incoherent immigration policy; federal waste; a lack of market competition in the health care industries; the “death tax;” and hostile nations that develop nuclear weapons.
To be fair, no presidential campaign nor any administration is complete without adequate attention paid to both domestic and foreign affairs. And historically, Republicans and Democrats have regularly disagreed as to how domestic and foreign matters should be prioritized, and how they should best be addressed.
Yet it never would occur to me that the president of the United States should “protect” me from consumer products on a store shelf. And to this end, it would seem that Obama is positioning himself as a new sort of would-be president, kind of an American caretaker-in-chief.
Here in Arizona, we’ve had some “caretaker-in-chief” experiences with government, even in the past nine years since I have lived here. The first one that comes to mind is the provision of “free” all-day kindergarten, a top legislative priority during Gov. Janet Napolitano’s first term (the Republican-majority Legislature cooperated with her on this, as well).
Another example was the 2003 passage of Proposition 414, which raised property taxes on county homeowners so as to “save” Maricopa County Medical Center. Of course, the campaign in favor of Prop. 414 made the case that, without a tax increase, the county facility would be forced to close. And despite the fact that the greatest burden to the county medical center was (and still is) the enormous numbers of illegal immigrants that it is forced to serve, county voters still nonetheless chose to hike their own taxes, for fear of losing the medical center.
But all-day kindergarten is one thing, a property tax hike is another — and a presidential candidate who wishes to protect us from consumer products is yet another.
I hope voters in Arizona, and throughout the nation, will have the good sense to select a president who can work towards a safer America, not just “safer toys.”