Let's get the basic housekeeping over with first, shall we? I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican, and I'm going to vote a mix of parties, based solely on which candidate is the least heinous.
Number two, I'm sorry. Figured I'd get that out of the way on behalf of all my fellow Floridians. I'm not sure how we're going to mess up this election, but this is Florida, and it's what we do.
So now that you know where I stand politically, let's discuss this election. This is an important election because our economy is still in the toilet and there's a lot of work that needs doing on a great many issues.
The last 22 months have not been fun. Virtually all economists say it could have been worse, far worse, but that's no consolation for how sucky it's been for most Americans.
Normally, when a governing cycle has been bad, we throw the bastards out and bring in their challengers. This time, the Democrats have had the majority. I won't say they've been in charge, because even with ownership of all governing branches of government, the Democrats have managed to chase their tails more than institute decisive improvements for America's well-being.
This is, of course, why the Democrats deserve to lose.
It's virtually incomprehensible how one party can have such a lock on the control of the government, but not even govern themselves well enough to agree on the major issues.
Health care reform is a good example. As I discussed over nearly a hundred pages in How To Save Jobs, America's health care infrastructure is badly, badly broken. It's not only hurting individual Americans, it's putting American industry at a deep disadvantage vs. every other nation.
But do the Dems decisively reform health care, institute a public option, or otherwise fix the problem with their uber-powerful majority? No, of course not. Instead, they foist a 2,000 page abomination on the American public with legislation designed to cater to the insurance industry -- the very industry responsible for the fundamental problem.
The Democrats' lack of performance can be chronicled ad infinitum. A stimulus bill too expensive to comprehend, yet too low to do anything. Going on vacation before passing a budget. And on and on and on.
So America is going to self-correct, throw the Dems out of power in the House, at least, and elect Republicans.
The Republicans, unlike the Democrats, understand the basics of how to run a unified party. Unfortunately, the Republicans have a tendency to miss the whole "governing on behalf of America" bit in their fanatical urge to win power.
In a recent interview, Republican Senator and current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president."
He did not say anything like the "single most important thing" is jobs, improving the economy, making America strong, or any other goal that implies caring about the country. Instead, his comment reflected the GOP's strategy of scorched Earth: win, at any cost.
This is where I question whether the Republicans deserve to win. Certainly, they've run a good political game, blocking Democratic effectiveness at every turn (not hard, given that they're Democrats).
But if the Republicans' singular goal for the next two years is to create an environment where President Obama loses, then it's completely in the GOP's best interests for the economy to get worse, for the jobless rate to increase, and, generally, for the next two years to suck as much or more than the last two years.
It's in the GOP's interest. It's in Mitch McConnell's interest. But having two more terrible years is absolutely not in America's best interest.
Here, then, lies the challenge for all American voters. Our first choice is to re-elect the ineffective Democrats who are unlikely to fix anything substantive over the next two years. Our other choice is to elect Republicans, who are likely to do whatever they can to dump more and more bad news onto Barack Obama's job performance reports for the next Presidential election.
Yep, we're kinda screwed.
So what should you do tomorrow? I recommend you do not just vote along party lines. Vote for whichever candidate has shown a tendency to be more reasonable, to work with the other party, and to put America before politics. Unfortunately, there are very few of these politicians running. Those who do put America first are often more comfortable as part of the lunatic fringe than they are with actually winning elections.
If you can't elect politicians who will put America first, at least choose the politicians who seem smarter, have a better grasp of business and economics, and seem willing to think, rather than just spout doctrine.
And, if you can't find either patriotic politicians willing to put America first, or at least smart ones willing to look at the issues from all sides, once you elect whatever jokers you're going to elect, be sure to spend the next two years holding your elected officials accountable for their job performance.
Write letters, call, protest, and otherwise keep sending the message that we're mad as hell and we're not going to take it any more.
Here's the bottom line: we are likely to elect a party whose primary mission over the next two years is to celebrate as America sinks economically -- because it's in their petty best interest for that to happen.
Once that party is elected, we need to constantly remind them that we will not give them a second win in 2012 unless they work with all the other branches of government to fix our current problems.
Let's tell our newly-elected officials that we're going to judge them on the job they've been hired to do: governance. We're going to judge them on how well they govern America in a divided Washington. If America is economically sound and operating smartly in 2012, that'll be what helps us decide that they're better at this governing thing.
But if they spend the next two years doing nothing but making it worse for all of us just so they can throw dirt on the President of the United States, then we're going to throw them out and start over with a new crop of leaders.
As Patton said, "Lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way."
Update: Fixed Senator McConnell's title.