The election campaign is, mercifully, almost over and my fervent wish is that the results will be determined swiftly or at least peacefully. My other fervent wish is that office holders would spend less time campaigning and more time governing which is what they were elected to do. First-term presidents and governors spend much of the last year of their terms, or about one quarter of an entire term, campaigning for re-election. It cannot but be a distraction from dealing with the problems they were elected to solve. A single six-year term would ameliorate this problem.
This has been a particularly nasty campaign with President Donald Trump remaining in character, quick to attack his critics and sometimes members of his own administration without much restraint rather than just focusing on his accomplishments and outlining his plans for a second term. He should be stressing the fact that a Gallup poll has found that over half of registered voters feel, in spite of the pandemic and its effects on the economy, that they are better off now than they were four years ago. He has been most effective when he compares his accomplishments of the past four years with those of former Vice-president Joe Biden after his nearly five decades in government.
Under Mr. Trump, the economy accelerated from a sluggish recovery under former President Barrack Obama to record high growth until the pandemic hit. Unemployment dropped to an all- time low including among minorities. The percentage of Black Americans living in poverty fell to a record low of 20%. He removed scores of Obama-imposed restrictions on business and industry, and his tax reforms and reductions restored business confidence and encouraged expansion which led to more jobs than there were available workers to fill them. The stock market reached new highs, benefitting retirement accounts and pension plans, contrary to liberals’ claims that it benefitted only the wealthy, again demonstrating John F. Kennedy’s words that a rising tide lifts all boats. He appointed over 200 largely conservative and originalist judges to federal courts including three new Supreme Court associate justices.
Mr. Trump’s foreign policy accomplishments included extricating the U.S. from the deeply-flawed Paris Accords which put unreasonable demands on the U.S. while essentially giving high polluters like China and India a virtual free pass and the nuclear agreement with Iran which gave the world’s leading exporter of terrorism, whose government preaches death to Americans and the destruction of Israel, a clear path to acquire nuclear weapons after a temporary pause. He imposed additional sanctions on Iran and authorized the removal of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani and ISSIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, terrorist leaders responsible for attacks on Americans. He imposed sanctions on Russia for invading Crimea and on China because of unfair trade practices, the theft of intellectual property, attempts to establish sovereignty over most of the South China Sea and its treatment of Hong Kong.
Trump did what his predecessors of both parties tried and failed to accomplish; achieve a diplomatic breakthrough in the Middle East. He facilitated the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and three more Arab nations: the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan with more likely to follow, promoting peace and ensuring a united front against Iranian dominance in that turbulent region. Perhaps most importantly, he kept the U.S. out of more endless overseas wars.
The President could have enhanced his prospects, perhaps, by changing his style and tweeting less often but he is who he is and that’s not likely to change. In fact, it’s what got him nominated and elected and expecting him to change is like expecting Joe Biden to stop saying “c’mon man.” It’s been five years since this TV reality star and businessman entered politics and his style has been at least consistent. Character matters, of course, but so do policies and accomplishments. Chief executives, important though they are, come and go but policies can have a long shelf life and in the final analysis may matter more than personalities. People have an inflated view of the role of a chief executive. It’s the many competent people on the team working very long hours that actually do the heavy lifting and get the job done.
A Biden presidency would drastically change the direction of government. If the GOP retains control of the senate, it could exercise some control over a President Biden’s move to the left of the political spectrum but if both houses of congress go Democrat, there will be little restraint on the left wing of the party and I predict that Joe would just go with the flow while Democrats prepare for a Kamala Harris presidency in 2024 or maybe sooner.
As Mr. Biden said during the final debate, a Biden Administration would phase out carbon-based fuels and end support for fracking. America’s hard-won gains in energy independence along with hundreds of thousands of good paying jobs would be lost. The Obama Administration’s war on coal had an upside. It led to fracking which allowed us to become the world’s leader in energy production, a net exporter of energy, and it allowed clean-burning natural gas to replace coal, resulting in a 15% reduction in carbon emissions since 2015. A war on all carbon-based fuels would have a huge negative effect on the economy and on the reliability of the power grid. Do we really want to risk that in favor of a risky bet on a green new deal?
Finally, since character does matter, Mr. Biden has some serious character issues of his own that he needs to clarify, specifically regarding those emails from son Hunter’s laptop which would appear to implicate Hunter in influence-peddling in his overseas financial dealings plus claims by an associate that he knows the former vice president was aware of it. The Bidens deny any wrongdoing and claim a smear campaign along with Russian disinformation but, c’mon man, something smells here and it isn’t Russian disinformation.