Saturday, September 20, 2008

Economic Upheaval Predicts an Obama Victory


Economic Upheaval Predicts an Obama Victory

By Don McNay
Richmond Register

Then you better start swimming
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin

-Bob Dylan

Until last week, I thought John McCain had a chance to be President. I don’t now.

I’ve been watching political futures trading on I could see a situation where McCain could unite the coalition of states that George Bush carried in 2000 and 2004.

Then the financial markets went on another wild ride. The latest drama was the tipping point. People will want striking change.

There are two ways that crisis effects presidential politics. In times of war, voters stay with the incumbent party. In times of economic upheaval, people elect challengers.

Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt won war time re-elections. Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter were thrown-out during hard economic times. George H.W. Bush went out in an economy less painful than now.

McCain is not responsible for the nation’s economic woes. He’s a member of the current president’s party and has been in Washington for a long time.

Normally, experience and incumbency are assets. Not this year. Every time the markets get out of whack, people start looking for someone to make them calm again.

The people in charge are not getting the job done. It’s time to try someone new.

After the latest financial tsunami, the economy will be the only issue. War, social issues and “lipstick on a pig” are going to be distant side shows.

It will take a few weeks for the effect to ripple down to Main Street. Like a near death collision, shock sets in the days after the accident.

The tremors are going to hit Main Street about the time Election Day rolls around. That is very bad for McCain.

People are paying more for gasoline than they ever dreamed they would. Food is more expensive, people are losing their houses and jobs are lost and outsourced.

Financial institutions that were supposed to give us guidance have given us garbage. Some historic giants have been destroyed by greed, hubris and big time arrogance.

What is going on can’t keep going. People are dying for change. Until the markets went crazy, I thought McCain might symbolize enough change to make people happy. I don’t think so now.

When Ronald Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter, he asked the question: Are you better off today than you were four years ago?

Obama can ask voters: are you better off today than you were four MONTHS ago?
Even four weeks ago look sunnier than now.

Although I always planned to vote for him, (I’ve only voted for one Republican presidential candidate in my life) I’ve been slow to warm up to Obama. I was for John Edwards, before I found out Edwards was a reckless liar. Edwards’s social agenda, with a touch of Mike Huckabee’s economic populism, was the candidate I was looking for.

The upheaval has increased my Obama enthusiasm.

There have been a lot of bad economic decisions. The War in Iraq diverted billions that we needed at home. Lobbyists pushed through legislation that hurts consumers. Warren Buffett, the richest man in America, thinks he should pay more in taxes and estate taxes than his personal secretary pays. He’s right.

President Bush appointed a Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke, who doesn’t have the slightest idea what he is doing. Bernanke has turned a bad economy into a terrible one.

Government regulation of financial institutions is a joke. They only time regulators step up is to throw money at companies that are “too big to fail.” They should learn to stop disasters before they start.

Billions are wasted, bailing out companies who made stupid decisions. CEO’s are rewarded for their screw ups with million dollar bonuses.

If I make bad business decisions, I go to the poor house. If a Wall Street hot shot loses billions, we buy them a yacht on the way out.

I’d love for the government to throw me a few billion. Unlike the Wall Street types, my company has never failed.

Large companies, with long histories, have been brought to their knees by stupid decisions. I am not sure why it happened, but it happened.

The country will vote for the candidate that keeps it from happening again.

Which means the times will be a changing.

Don McNay is the Chairman of the Board for McNay Settlement Group. You can write to him at or read his award winning column at