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Be thankful for our system

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By John Barnhart


    I’m sure President Barack Obama is not happy with the way things are going.
    The month began with economic bad news. Job creation was very weak in May and manufacturing was down. This is just another example of why a majority of Americans disapprove of President Obama’s handling of the economy. It also reinforces Republicans’ contention that President Obama’s policies have impeded, rather than helped the recovery.
    Another bit of news that I’m sure President Obama didn’t like came out of Wisconsin two weeks ago. There, Governor Scott Walker survived a recall election by a vote of 53 percent to his “Democratic” challenger’s 46 percent. He is the first governor in American history to win a recall election, and he won by a wider margin than Barack Obama did in 2008. This is not good news for President Obama because it means that public service unions have lost a lot of clout. Furthermore, it showed that Republicans were able to out-organize and out-fundraise these unions, developing a model that they can use in swing states this fall. Finally, it means that he is going to have to work to win Wisconsin, a state that previously looked like a safe set of Obama electoral votes. Right now, polls show Romney ahead in that state.    
    Then, there’s Bill Clinton. Slick has been campaigning for President Obama but, as he is not running for office himself, he sometimes speaks his mind. When the Obama campaign ran attack ads aimed at Mitt Romney’s time as CEO of Bain Capital, Slick criticized the ads as having an anti-capitalist feel to them. Then, he said that all of the Bush tax cuts should be extended for a few months. This contradicts President Obama’s position on the cuts.
    Additional bad news for Obama came in the form of a poll in North Carolina in which 20 percent of black voters said they will vote for Romney. National polls show the two running neck and neck.
    There is a good chance that a new president will be moving into the White House come January.
    Whether you think, like me, that Barack Obama is in a tie with Jimmy Carter for the title of Worst President Ever, or whether you are an Obama supporter, you should be glad of the fact that he could be flushed out of office in the next election. The fact that every sitting president has to face a viable opponent in regular elections and could be evicted from the White House, as were Carter and Bush the Elder, reminds us of what a great political system we have. Despite all the hot air, despite the baloney, despite the negative attack ads, despite fork-tongued politicians, we should be thankful for our political system because we can vote elected officials from office if enough of us want to do that. Other countries aren’t so lucky.
    Take Russia, for example. What passed for an election in a country that has the forms, but not the substance, of democracy, reinstalled Vladimir Putin for another term as president — for six years, this time.
    Since taking the oath of office, Tsar Vladimir I has cracked down on opposition. Police have broken up peaceful protest rallies. Last week they raided the homes of several prominent opposition leaders, hauling off computers, documents and cash.
    Tsar Vladimir is not going to allow any effective political opposition to emerge. He has no intention of losing an election and he’s going to make sure that he never faces a viable opponent. Actually, he can’t let go of power. If Barack Obama is defeated in November, he will leave office and get a lavish pension plus secret service guards. Should Putin ever relinquish power, he and his cronies would face criminal investigations, which would surely lead to trials. He’s got a tiger by the tail and he can’t let go, even if he wanted to.
    We have a president and we can vote him out of office in November. The Russians have a tsar, and they are stuck with him.