Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Modest Proposal: Let’s Have a New President November 5


Copyright © 2008 by Mark Gabrish Conlan for Zenger’s Newsmagazine • All rights reserved

As I write this (Sunday, October 11) the United States of America is in economic free-fall. The only reason the stock market hasn’t fallen to record lows in the last two days is it’s been the weekend and it hasn’t been open. Banks are either being taken over by the federal government or forced into shotgun mergers with their bigger brethren to save them from the consequences of years of speculation in home loans. Businesses accustomed to borrowing money for day-to-day operations now find themselves unable to finance themselves and in imminent danger of going under and taking their employees with them. Homeowners watch in panic as their mortgages “reset” just as other expenses like food and gas threaten the precarious financial equilibrium they’ve been able to achieve in an era in which real wages have steadily gone down every year but two (1999 and 2000) since 1971.

At the same time, nothing the political system does seems able to stanch the economic hemorrhaging. A $600 “stimulus” check to each taxpayer, which was supposed to encourage discretionary spending, for most of its recipients just got soaked up by food, gas and outstanding credit card bills. A $700 billion “bailout” package to save the Wall Street financial firms from the consequences of their speculatory orgies hasn’t even had a chance to go into effect before the markets have voted it down. The latest proposal is for government to purchase equity shares in banks directly — something it hasn’t done since the 1929 stock market crash and the Great Depression that followed — but even that idea has had little apparent effect on the utter devastation of investor and consumer confidence in our economic future.

I believe at least part of the problem has to do with the timing of the crash: right in the home stretch of a Presidential election. George W. Bush is the lamest of lame ducks, vainly trying to influence a nation that has stopped listening to him. He’s spent all his political capital on keeping the funding taps open for his immoral and destructive war in Iraq and winning Congressional approval for open-ended wiretapping, torture and all the other accoutrements of the so-called “unitary executive” — the Presidential dictatorship he and vice-president Dick Cheney came into office to establish. With the presidency hobbled and people awaiting with baited breath the outcome of the election to determine Bush’s successor, we cannot afford the traditional 2 1/2-month lag time between the election and the swearing-in of the new President.

We need a new President. Not on January 20, 2009: NOW. Accordingly, I call on President Bush and Vice-President Cheney immediately to offer their resignations, to be effective November 5, 2008. I further call on Congress to pass a bill suspending the existing law regarding presidential succession and stipulating that in case of a vacancy in the presidency and vice-presidency between November 4, 2008 and January 20, 2009, the presumptive winners of the November 4 election shall immediately take over as president and vice-president. The law can also interpret the constitutional requirement that the members of the Electoral College “meet in their respective states” to vote for president and vice-president to include teleconferencing or video conferencing and casting ballots electronically. (Why should a 21st century republic be hobbled by 18th century technology?)

Installing the newly elected President and Vice-President within a day or so of the November 4 election won’t be a panacea, but at least it will allow our newly elected leaders to “hit the ground running” and get to work on solving this devastating economic crisis IMMEDIATELY. It will avoid a potential catastrophe that America hasn’t faced since the 4 1/2-month lag time between Abraham Lincoln’s election and his inauguration, which allowed the Southern states to secede and ensured that Lincoln’s task would be to win a civil war, when if he could have taken office earlier he might have been able to short-circuit one.