A few short years ago, “Be not afraid” was Pope John Paul the Second’s advice to a fearful humanity. I believe that his was long run thinking was that God is in His heaven, and loves us far beyond our capability or willingness to comprehend. Faith is a gift.

The world economy is another matter, requiring both short-term fixes and long term planning. The economist John Maynard Keynes put a colleague’s simplistic answer into proper perspective when he observed, “in the long run we are all dead.” America and the world are facing economic problems unseen is most our lifetimes, and we are doing so in the midst of a critical presidential election. Not that they’re not all critical because we’re now reaping the whirlwind of Jeopardy’s “Stupid Questions” category all the way back to the actor/president Ronald Reagan who claimed, “Government is not the answer, government is the problem.” Well, Ronnie, suddenly government is the final answer according to America’s Treasury Secretary, who’s nationalizing everything in sight!

When it comes to elections, local, state or national, far be it for me to claim a special insight into the process. I know what I know from long ago as grammar school civic courses taught by nuns who lived shut away in their convents and probably seldom voted themselves. Their lives so constricted that they had to travel in pairs when they ventured out into the world that the rest of lived in. All that has changed of course, the good sisters (which they still are), now wear normal clothes instead of black habits, and express their political opinions just like the rest of us. Their emphasis is often on the issues of fairness and social justice, a position that is underpinned with community work in addition to teaching. In my youth I never gave them the credit that they deserved; in my dotage I am grateful that they didn’t take my slacking personally, continuing to pound a sense of personal and public morality into my hard head.

The result was that when I grew up I took elections seriously, worked in a lot of campaigns, and voted for the best person running based on agreement with their goals. I learned about the candidates by hearing them speak, reading their positions, listening to debates, and ignoring shallow campaign advertising. Discussions with relatives and friends always came into the mix, as it still does.

Has anyone else noticed how much candidate John McCain looks like the mature Charlie Chaplin? Chaplain was a brilliant comedian and a student of human nature. He utilized his knowledge and talent to create an Everyman, a little tramp who had a hard time out in the world but survived on his wits. He, like McCain, found difficulty coping with technology in the movie Modern Times. In his The Great Dictator Chaplain spoofed Adolf Hitler to the delight of a world spinning out of control with real fear on everyone’s plate. In The Gold Rush, Charlie sought his fortune in the gold fields of Alaska, but in a memorable scene was reduced to cooking and trying to eat his boots. The poverty of his movie Alaska is today embodied by the paucity of ideas and loose lipped speechifying from Alaska’s Governor and surprise GOP Vice Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin.

When you objectify your opponent as the “other,” or as candidate McCain had it in the latest debate, “that one,” you’re well on your way to calling up the very demons you say you despise, using language as a weapon to create fear. Most of us have been “other” at one time or other in our lives: New kid in class, or in the neighborhood. Your parents don’t, or you don’t, speak English all that well, your ethic background is unique or you’re a different color all together. I felt it in the service when I befriended a black guy from Chicago, and was called an N-word lover by a Redneck in the barracks. So, in that case we were both “other.” I apologize that I never saw battle, or spent time as a P.O.W., but that’s the luck of the draw, or hot dog flying. Fighter pilots are not the most humble guys in the world as, “no mistakes on my watch,” George W. Bush will tell you.

What the hell does Country First mean? It sound a lot like “me first.”

America First is a fascist party founded by white supremacists whose goal is to promote a white Christian America free of immigrants, feminists, Jews, blacks, gays and liberals. These nutty terrorists’ hatred is being spoon fed by Palin when she says that Obama doesn’t love America as we do, and by McCain when he asks, “Who is Obama?”

Feeding red meat to a mob is demagoguery. Their campaign sounds more like the French Revolution. “Off with their heads.” Who wants to go where they’re leading?

When I was born the Depression was in full swing, and my parents never forgot living through those times. If, as it’s said, this nation has little historical memory, go talk to an eighty or ninety year old, and they will put you straight on what being broke feels like, and of a time when aged workers had no Social Security. It wasn’t that long ago.

Elections have consequences. FDR’s energy, ideas and willingness to challenge the accepted wisdom of his era brought the American economy back to life, often using the simple dignity of creating a job. The Republicans fought him every step of the way.

We need a new president, vice president and Congress who love this country so much that they will appeal to our better angels, again putting the American people first.

I’m voting for change. Big time!

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