I am an independent voter and a moderate guy. That pretty much means that I do not trust either of the two main political parties, or even many of my fellow citizens. This year, I have two words for Democrats and Republicans alike: personal responsibility.
Here is the situation:
Our country is $16 trillion in debt (some estimates are much, much higher), one in six people is now living in poverty, the percentage of people out of work or underemployed is around 15 percent (much higher for Latinos and African Americans), the average family income is down by $4,000 per year, half of college graduates cannot find a job, the few jobs that are being created are lower-paying ones, the Medicare system is unsustainable, Social Security is a Ponzi scheme of some kind, our education system is becoming non-competitive, out-of-wedlock births among blacks are at a socially destructive 72.9 percent, an overproductive workforce is stressed out and obese, rates of depression and other mental illnesses are through the roof, and companies will not hire because of economic uncertainty and gridlock in Washington.
And, oh, yes, we just set a new record: 46.7 million are on food stamps.
These are not trifling issues.
In the face of all this, the Democratic convention gave us Sandra Fluke as a prime-time speaker. Fluke, an unmarried recent law school graduate, became known earlier this year when she pleaded before a Democratic congressional panel that medical insurance policies should be required to cover the cost of birth control for women.
"Contraception ... can cost a woman over $3,000 during law school," she said. "For a lot of students who, like me, are on public interest scholarships, that's practically an entire summer's salary. Forty percent of the female students at Georgetown Law reported to us that they've struggled financially as a result of this policy."
In short, she is asking our country to pay for her birth control. In her convention speech, Fluke claimed that people were trying to silence her. It was nonsense.
Liberal journalist, Kirsten Powers, said it all: "The U.S. is one of the best countries in the world to be born in if you are a woman. I thank God that I was born here. I hope that any young girl who saw that Fluke speech has someone to tell her it's a lie: Women are powerful and have freedom of speech."
As I see it, the fundamental problem is that a huge number of Americans have extreme difficulty being responsible for their own actions; they want others to do it, and the candidate who promises the most will win. Republicans have been good at this, but Democrats are rock stars and they were using Fluke to buy votes.
The fact is that our country has never been able to afford the trifling interests typified by Fluke. And one need only look at California to see the effect of vote-buying: Total gridlock, where no politician can risk offending even one special interest group for fear of being voted out of office. It is an illness and the cure is for people to take responsibility for their own lives and happiness.
Indeed, the cure for national greed and our financial woes is embodied in President Kennedy's simple yet elegant phrase: "Ask not what your country can do for you ask what you can do for your country."
What a timely standard by which to rate the patriotism of all politicians and citizens of this land.
Bob Lavender was born and raised in Los Angeles. He served in the U.S. Air Force for six years and is a small-business owner and retired pilot living in Provo.