Chesterton Tribune

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Editorial/Commentary

 

This year, voters have a clear choice in local, state and federal election races. There are real differences between the two major political parties that make voting more than the all too familiar choice between Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee.

 Porter County Issues

In Porter County Republicans are more likely to support the Regional Development Authority (RDA), South Shore extension to Valparaiso, a hospital in Liberty township and partnership with, or encouragement of, developers.

Democrats are more likely to seek changes in the RDA, oppose the South Shore extension, favor a hospital in an existing city or town and support limits on development in rural areas while preserving open space.

These differences have emerged despite the initial bipartisan support for creation of the RDA and the sale of the once-public Porter Memorial Hospital.

The striking thing is that these positions are mostly consistent from Republican to Republican from Democrat to Democrat. It is almost as if we really do have two political parties contesting the elections on the issues.

There are still areas of bipartisan agreement. Neither party wants a local tax for the South Shore extension. Both favor holding developers accountable for following through on promises made during the zoning process. Both share frustration at state property tax confusion.

Oddly the Democrats are critical of the RDA despite support for it from their own county chairman. While this doesn’t change much for the voters, it does raise puzzling questions about what is going on internally within the party.

State Issues

 At the state level Republicans are more likely to favor sale or perpetual lease of state assets such as the Indiana Toll Road and the Hoosier Lottery and the privatization of state government. They are also more likely to favor the proposed restructuring of local government to eliminate many local elected officials in favor of a single county executive. Republicans are more likely to favor sales tax hikes, such as the one passed last year, oppose income tax hikes and favor restructuring property taxes to cut taxes on businesses.

State Democrats are more likely to oppose sale of state assets and defend local government as being closer to the people and more responsive. They tend to be skeptical of privatization of government services. They also are less likely to support sales tax hikes and more likely to oppose tax shifts away from business and on to wage earners and homeowners.

Federal issues / the Presidential Race

 The national election is overshadowed by the emergence of the worst global economic crisis since WWII.

 Neither political party has yet completely adjusted its message to the growing crisis. Both are still repeating lines from the spring primaries even as economic news gets worse each day.

Name calling and red herrings are distracting attention from the serious challenges facing the nation.

The stakes are high. The last time there was a worldwide depression —in the 1930s— thousands of businesses went bankrupt wiping out the life savings of millions of Americans. A third of American workers were thrown out of work and others were forced to take jobs that barely paid a living wage. Millions of out-of-work Americans took to the road going from town to town looking for soup kitchens and handouts.

In the 1930s Republicans wedded to the free market were unable to adjust to the deepening crisis. Democrats did better, but in the end only the draconian enforced rationing and universal military conscription for World War Two was able to lift the nation (and the world) out of the Great Depression.

While we hope it won’t be as bad this time, the threat that it might should be taken seriously. A promise not to raise taxes doesn’t do much good for a family or business without income.

This election, Republicans are more likely to believe that the market solves all problems eventually. They are less likely to support government programs to turn the economy around or ease the pain of an economic collapse.

Democrats are more willing to use government to help the market restore itself and more willing to enact programs to help the victims of hard times.

These differences are mostly a matter of degree. Both parties agree on the importance of the free market. Both parties favor government regulation and remedies such as Food Stamps and unemployment assistance.

We stress party policies and not the personalities of the two candidates because neither presidential candidate has the experience or education to make the right decisions on the economy by himself.

One may have more experience, the other may be better educated, but for the winner next Tuesday, the key to success in his first term will be who he picks to advise him on the economy.

It is this writer’s opinion that events of the past two months have shown that Democrat Barack Obama is better able to pick the right people while Republican John McCain is too quick to choose, too easily impressed.

Cast an Informed Vote

We urge all Duneland voters to cast an informed vote.

Take the time to read what the candidates are saying about their records and their views.

See for yourself if our quick summary of the issues above is accurate.

Don’t vote a straight ticket unless you are sure that each candidate of your party is the best candidate.

The Chesterton Tribune has profiled candidates for county and state offices. These profiles are available in back issues of the newspaper and on the Tribune Website, www.chestertontribune.com

Read them.

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This editorial was chiefly written by Tribune Managing Editor David Canright. Canright serves as a Democrat on the Porter County Parks and Recreation Board and the Porter County Convention Recreation and Visitor Commission. In both cases he was appointed to those county government boards by Republican elected officials.

  

Posted 10/31/2008