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A plea to the presidential candidates


Dear President Bush and Sen. Kerry:

I’m one of those undecided voters in a battleground state. I know you and your operatives are just dying to know what I care about, what interest or issue will get my vote.

Well, here it is, plain and simple: I love my kids. I care about them and I know my neighbors feel the same way about their children. All we want is to give our kids the same opportunities we’ve had: a chance at a quality education, an opportunity to get ahead financially, fresh air to breathe and clean water to drink, affordable health care, secure towns and cities and the freedom to pursue their dreams.

Both of you have spent millions of dollars telling us what you thought we wanted to hear. Yes, I know all about the swift boat veterans, Sen. Kerry’s Vietnam and post-war activities, the president’s National Guard service, the Kerry “flip-flop” thing, the “phantom” WMDs and the Iraq quagmire. With the incessant commercials, I’ve committed it all to memory.

The problem is, you’ve spent so much time and money telling us what you thought we wanted to hear you haven’t spent a moment telling us what we need to hear. Here are a few facts I don’t see you really addressing:

– The U.S. national debt is approaching $7.4 trillion.

– The federal budget has gone from a $150 billion surplus to a $422 billion deficit in four years.

– The current Medicare/Social Security cash-flow deficit of $2.5 billion in 2003 will balloon to $783 billion in 2020 after most of the Baby Boomers retire.

– The top 20 percent of households earn more than 50 percent of the income as middle-class earnings have fallen to their lowest level in 50 years.

– The International Monetary Fund is warning creditor nations that the United States is barreling toward insolvency unless it immediately institutes a 60 percent increase in taxes or a 50 percent decrease in Medicare and Social Security benefits.

– We spend almost $400 billion on the military annually and yet we haven’t addressed the root causes of poverty, ignorance and religious fanaticism abroad that fuel an anger toward the United States that guns and bombs will never squelch.

President Bush and Sen. Kerry, I believe you are both intelligent and well-meaning men. You are not solely responsible for this mess. Still, because you are both wrestling to get your hands on the wheel as our “ship of state” starts to capsize, perhaps a piece of advice from the heartland might be helpful.

In Iowa, we understand that you can’t bring in a corn crop by tossing some kernels on the ground one day and climbing into the combine the next.

The same type of natural law applies to the serious problems our great nation is facing today. There is no “quick fix,” no tasty medicine, no magic government program that is going to solve our national problems. It will require the courageous efforts of committed public servants who have the intestinal fortitude and personal integrity to quit engaging in partisan politics and short-term election cycle “Happy Meal” proposals if we are going to turn this ship around.

Our political system is broken when our elected politicians spend more energy perpetuating their own tenure in office than seriously working in a bipartisan way to solve problems. You know that your Beltway compatriots are influenced far more by the special interests that toss megadollars into their campaign coffers than by the occasional throbs of conscience that beckon them to support strict term limits and aggressive federal legislation eliminating influence peddling in our capital.

Here’s the bottom line: I’m undecided about my vote because, like millions of other Americans, choosing between the lesser of evils in a time of crisis is not much of a choice.

President Bush and Sen. Kerry, shed the cloak of Washington “politics as usual.” Speak the truth. Chart a realistic course of action. Call upon all Americans to make the tough sacrifices necessary to preserve our great nation. If you can’t do it because you care about my children, do it because you love your own.

Greg Naylor is an attorney and partner with the Whitfield & Eddy PLC law firm and has two sons.

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