John McCain wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today with a revealing line:
I have a plan to protect the value of homes and get them rising again by refinancing mortgages so your neighbor won’t default and further drag down the value of your house.
I find it amazing that the first thought to come to McCain when he thinks of his neighbor facing foreclosure is how it affect the price of his own home. I certainly wouldn’t want to have him for a neighbor.
Many Americans are worried about the value of their homes, but when their neighbors face foreclosure I believe they’re thinking of a number of other things before they worry about their own home’s value.
- We care about our neighbors and don’t want this worst of financial stresses on them and their families.
- We don’t want our kids to worry about whether their friends on the block are going to move away or go hungry.
- We don’t want the communities we live in, small or large, and our country to be full of people forced to make desperate decisions.
- We wish our neighbors the best and want to help them if we can.
Thankfully, most Americans will think about these things first and their home values second. They know that in the long-run retaining strong, livable communities is what will help rebuild the value lost in our homes. I think this appeal to selfishness, is what has destroyed the McCain campaign and turned off most of the electorate. I find it utterly distasteful that the campaign has been pitting Americans against each other with the pro and anti-American rhetoric. The promotion of divisiveness at every level, amongst states, amongst races, amongst age groups, amongst gender, amongst faiths is shameful given the circumstances we are confronting.
The biggest risks I see to our economy are people losing trust in the person on the other side of the table or making desperate decisions out of fear. All business is about trust, and a lot of it has been shattered recently. And I know that in the long-run our prosperity is furthered by helping those hurt by this crisis survive it. Not because it’ll preserve the value of my house tomorrow, but because eventually it will create better opportunities for all of us.
I can’t say it as well as Obama did:
If there’s one thing we’ve learned from this economic crisis, it’s that we are all in this together. From CEOs to shareholders, from financiers to factory workers, we all have a stake in each other’s success because the more Americans prosper, the more America prospers.
There is a piece in McCain’s op-ed I like and I thought I’d point that out too:
I have devoted my life to safeguarding America. Former Secretary of State George Shultz compares diplomacy to tending a garden — if you want to see relationships flourish, you have to tend them. I have done that, by traveling the world and establishing ties with everyone from dissidents to heads of state. There is great need for American leadership in the world, and I understand that only by exercising that leadership with grace and wisdom can we be successful in safeguarding our interests.
and I think there’s something here that the Obama campaign should also pay attention to. The thing that worries me the most about the Obama campaign is the occassional anti-trade, protectionist rhetoric. One of the civilizing acts we engage in every day is the free exchange of an everyday purchase. This works on the global level as well. I know there is a portion of the left that is adamantly against globalization and I don’t deny that there is exploitation of workers and resources in many parts of the world. But in sum, trade is a civilizing influence for the community of countries, and one of the best way to build trust. Trade and capitalism within the institutional context of strong individual rights have done more to lift people out of poverty than all the well-meaning protectionism in the world. I think Obama recognizes that.
On a personal note, I’m a libertarian, because I believe in the justness and dignity of individual liberty. But that does not mean I am a selfish or self-centered person, I just don’t think anyone else has the standing, contextual information or ability to make good decisions on my behalf. But that doesn’t mean I’m selfish and incapable of empathizing with someone else’s pain. And it certainly does not mean I’m blind to the fact that my life will be miserable if a significant portion of the country begins to suffer from deep insecurity.
Obama’s op-ed published in the WSJ is here. I’ll end with another quote:
You can choose hope over fear, unity over division, the promise of change over the power of the status quo. If you give me your vote, we won’t just win this election — together, we will change this country and change the world.
I hope his presidency lives up to our expectations.