What I want in a President, Part One and 1/2

Ben Stein

I found the Ben Stein commentary from CBS Sunday Morning. It’s now posted on his website. Here it is for your and my reading enjoyment:

Well, it’s the New Year, and we’ve had the Iowa caucuses. Congratulations Governor Huckabee. Congratulations Senator Obama. And congratulations to all of the men and women who worked so hard in the Hawkeye State.

But, I have some bad news. Every single Presidential candidate is promising that he or she will make our lives better if we elect him or her to the White House. He or she will give us change, offer us hope, make our breath sweeter, make us more prosperous, more productive, happier, better educated, and healthier if we cast our votes for him or her. It’s a fun show but inside The White House, there is no Santa Claus.

Presidents simply cannot change much for most of us. For the huge majority of Americans, how much we earn, how healthy we are, how well our kids are educated–is up to us, not the federal government. No government program will make us middle class or rich if we don’t get educated in some way and work hard. No government program will make us healthy if we eat too much or smoke or don’t get exercise. No one in the White House will make our kids put down the video games and do their homework. The government cannot provide a lavish retirement for us if we don’t save and invest well. Oh, and all of that money the candidates promise to spend? That’s YOUR money, not their money they’re spending.

In the free society, what we are and who we are depends on us, except for the very most poor among us–where the government can indeed make a difference. But for the huge bulk of us, no matter what any Republican or any Democrat promises, it’s up to the people in our house, not The White House.

Barack can talk about “real change” but the only meaningful change comes from within. Huckabee can talk about being holier than we were, but that has to start with us.
Politicians really cannot change much unless they start or stop wars. For most of us, what the politicians say is just side show barking. When the circus leaves town, we have to get back to the basics: work, save, and teach your children well. And enjoy the political show, but know that it’s just show business, not real business.

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