Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Choices Have Consequences

The results of yesterday's election clearly show that we are in The Fourth Turning.  History is not made by events but by the reaction of human beings to events.  We saw clear evidence of that yesterday.  We are hurtling down the road for a rendezvous with history of our own making.  Two clearly marked paths were there for choosing.  The American people made their choice.   We all will have to deal with where it leads.

I have many new readers over the last two weeks as interest in the election approached.  Many of you probably did not see my post, "How Can There Be Hope When There Is No Change?".  This still accurately captures my biggest concerns about where we are going from here. Like it or not, this is where we are.  We have no choice but to move FORWARD.  That is what President Obama promised.  We will now see where he is leading us.

In many ways I think we exhibit the traits of an addict.  Our drug of choice is government spending and dependency.  Unfortunately, like most addicts, we may have to totally hit bottom before we come to our senses and begin recovery.  As we know, the sad truth is that as the addict spirals downward they also hurt many innocent people around them on that path.

It did not have to be this way.  It still doesn't have to be this way.  However, this seems to be the path we have chosen right now.  We have turned our backs on the warnings.  We have failed to listen, somehow thinking that our addiction will not lead to our ultimate downfall.  Choices have consequences.  We will learn what they are together.  For better or worse.  Our only hope now is that the President we elected yesterday is not the same leader we had for the last four years.


" Can There Be Any Hope If There Is No Change"-originally published October 2, 2012

Can there be any hope if there is no change in November?  This is a question that I have been pondering because I have serious concerns for our country and our economy should President Obama be re-elected.


I am a natural optimist.  I like to look for the positives in any situation. However, I am very, very troubled about where the country ends up if there is an Obama victory on November 6.

I believe a substantial part of the entrepreneurial sector in this country is hanging together almost entirely on the basis of hope right now.  Hope that there will be change in a couple of months and the country can get back on the right track.   We all know how important hope is to keep you going, especially if the end is in sight. However, hopelessness sets in easily if you cannot see light at the end of the tunnel.

There are many people, especially the most productive jobs producers and owners of capital in the country, who are looking for that change with a lot of hope right now.  I am talking about the people that make the economy go.  These are the people that are the engine of the ecoomy.  In my opinion, a Romney victory would have a tremendous positive psychological effect on this group which would provide an immediate boost for our economy. On the other hand, an Obama victory has the potential to  have a very negative impact on the psyche of these group. Any little hope that exists now could be extinguished quickly with very negative impacts for the economy.

An Obama victory will send a very ominous signal to many in this group that we have reached a critical tipping point.  It will appear that we have more people concerned about themselves than they do about the country.  It will look as if a majority of people have really given up on themselves and are only looking for government to solve their problems.   It will feel as if we have willingly driven our country off the cliff even when there were miles and miles of warning sides all along the road.

I have been deeply involved in previous Presidential campaigns where my guy did not win.  However, in the immediate aftermath of those elections I have always taken heart and had a lot of hope that the new President would pull the country together and move the country forward.

I have no such hope or expectation this time.  The record over the last four years could not be any clearer with President Obama.  There is absolutely nothing to suggest that the next four years will be any different than what we have already seen.  And if this is my view, I would expect that there are millions and millions of others that feel the same way.  I believe that we face a dynamic unlike anything we have ever seen in the aftermath of a Presidential election in my lifetime if President Obama is reelected.  Rather than the optimism that normally follows a Presidential election, I think we could experience real pessimism following this election.  

This country has made mistakes before, but it has never made a mistake when the chips were down and our backs were up against the wall.  In those times the American people have always made the right decision. This is such a time.  Will America get it wrong for the first time when it really counted?  I am not sure many fully understand the ramifications that could result if we don't get it right this time.

I still have to believe that there are a majority of people in this country who realize how much trouble we are in and how much we need change.  That is what makes the stakes so big.  That is also why the risk is so large for the psyche of the country if change is not made when it is so obviously needed.  If the choice is that clear and the majority choose to give Obama another four years, there will be far less hope left for a whole lot of people.

In light of where we are, if I was a Democrat, I would be very concerned about the re-election of Obama. As many of you know, I have written previously about the book, The Fourth Turning, by Neil Howe and William Strauss.  Howe and Strauss predicted in 1997 that we were heading for a Crisis period beginning in the 2005-2010 period that would test the country in a manner similar to the Revolutionary War, Civil War and Great Depression/World War II periods.

I don't think that there is any doubt we have entered The Fourth Turning but the really rough waters still lie ahead according to the predictions of The Fourth Turning.   By the same token, we are at a point where the warnings are well known to the general public now. This was not the case in 2008.  Obama came in with no blemishes and could easily avoid blame for what he "inherited".  He is not in the same position in 2012 if he is reelected.  He will be very vulnerable over the next four years and he will also put the entire Democratic party at significant risk if the waters get really rough and he can not guide the ship of state to calmer waters. No one will be able to say later that they were not warned.

Consider this perspective from Howe and Strauss on what history teaches us when it does hit the fan.
History warns that when a Crisis catalyzes, a previously dominant political party (or regime) can find itself directly blamed for perceived "mistakes" that led to the national emergency.  Whoever holds power when the Fourth Turning arrives could join the unlucky roster of the circa 1470 Lancastrians, circa 1570 Catholics, circa 1680 Stuarts, circa 1770 Tories, circa 1860 Democrats, and circa 1929 Republicans.  That party could find itself out of power for a generation.  Key persons associated with it could find themselves defamed, stigmatized, harassed, economically ruined, personally punished-or worse. (emphasis added)
Are any Democrats listening?  Barack Obama? Harry Reid? Nancy Pelosi?

It does not have to be this way.  There is still hope but only if we make a change.

Mitt Romney and the Republicans are also at risk should they carry the election.  We are now at the point that governing in Washington is a little bit like playing musical chairs.  The best place to be be over the next four years might be to be as far away from Washington as you can when the music stops.

Credit: Ian Evans

However, I think the Republicans would get far more latitude from the voters if they take charge after November 6 than the Democrats will.  I also think that Mitt Romney and the Republicans actually provides us the chance to turn things around.  Hope and change will not work going forward.  That should be clear to everyone after the last four years. Change and hard work is all that will work this time.  Mitt Romney is the only one that can deliver on that.


  1. The problem with using theories such as the Fourth Turning is that one can project one's own prejudices onto them. Many believe the fourth turning began to catalyze sometime under W Bush (between 2001-05); under this analysis, it is the GOP which has been rejected and will be blamed historically, while Obama and the Democrats will remain in power for the duration, and be praised for their handling of the coming crises.

  2. I agree with you that The Fourth Turning began in the GW Bush administration. 9/11, Katrina or the financial meltdown of 2008 all could be seen at the turning point.

    I also agree that prejudices can affect one's perspective. That is why I try to always take a step back and look at the facts.

    Obama had every opportunity to take advantage of the ill-feelings towards Bush in his last four years to put Democrats in power for a generation. At this point the facts would indicate that he squandered that opportunity. Democrats lost the House and the majority of state legislatures and Governors are in the hands of the Republicans. This is not what you would see if a political party was repudiated. Obama was re-elected but by a much smaller margin than in 2008. He also lost the majority of independents. These are not signs of strengths.

    This also suggests that Obama and the Democrats are very vulnerable in his second term. The people have given him a second chance. However, he is going to get far less latitude this time around. And if the country falters further or ends up in a crisis, he and the Democrats will bear most of the blame.

    I stated that this fate could also befall the Republicans if Romney has been elected. The voters took that risk away. Obama and the Democrats "own it" going forward.

    If Obama can succeed in navigating the rough waters ahead, the Democrats could very well parlay that into a generational majority advantage. However, I think the odds are against it considering the enormity of the problems facing us and Obama's past record.

    In 2008, we found that we did not elect a President, only a Politician. We need to find out if we elected a President this time. If we did, the country has a chance. If we didn't. the Democrats will pay the price.

    1. Based upon the book New Deal Or Raw Deal: How FDR’s Economic Legacy Has Damaged America written by Burton Folsom, Jr., it’s taken approximately 70 years to get where we are at. The Fourth Turning was setup some time between 1932 and 1940.

  3. The last Fourth Turning began in 1929 with the stock market crash. It ran until 1946 encompassing both the Great Depression and WWII. The authors of The Fourth Turning originally projected 2005 as the target date for the turn stating that it could be several years before or after that date. 9/11, Katrina and the 2008 financial meltdown might all be likely beginnings. We will not know for sure until we see it all play out. The point of maximum crisis is usually about 3/4 of the way through the Turning. If they are right we will see it within the next 5-10 years.