Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Oct. 9 deadline to register to vote in Presidential Election

By Stan Harris, LRA President and CEO
Stan Harris is the LRA President
& CEO and a former restaurateur.
On November 6, 2012, we will have the opportunity to elect our next president and the entire 435 members of Congress. In addition, 33 seats in the U.S. Senate are in play.

The right to vote is one of the freedoms that we enjoy in our nation. In order to participate, first you must be registered to vote. In Louisiana, if you haven't registered by October 9, you will miss the opportunity to have your vote count.

We have numerous challenges facing our country. We have a spending problem that has been growing our deficit faster than ever before. We have some within our government who believe the government should be more intrusive in our lives and activities. When we choose this route, the cost to provide these programs rise and they can only be funded through increased spending. Unfortunately, we don't collect enough tax revenue to cover the amount of spending commitments, so we operate with a deficit. I believe our deficit and the countries that hold U.S. debt are the biggest threat to our national security and stability.

As a nation we have fought and funded two long wars that have had dubious outcomes. Regardless of whether you believe we should have been in Iraq or Afghanistan, our Congress approved it and we've been funding these activities for more than a decade. There are costs to be borne in the human sense as well as financial ones. I remain in awe every day of the brave men and women in our armed services and the sacrifices they make to protect our freedom. Each and every one of them is an American hero!

I don't want to engage in a long political debate about which party or candidates better align with your views. Those are personal decisions. I would ask you for a bit of introspection about where you think our nation is today versus where we were four years ago. This should be one of the guiding thoughts in your candidate evaluation. We have difficult and complex issues facing our country. We have to get our spending more in line with projected revenue and further balance the expectations of what the government should and should not be paying for. All but one of the states requires a balanced budget each year. While this may be a stretch in the short run for the federal government, isn't it time we take a hard look at spending priorities? If you ran your business like the federal government does, I doubt you could sustain it for very long.

We need reasonable people to have an objective debate on how we can address so many of the revenue and tax options available to consider. The need for diplomacy in our nation’s Capitol is critical. Partisan wrangling has only brought us to positions more locked into being intransigent. It is time for leadership to design a new course for the future.

I am reminded of a speech I heard a few years ago by former British Prime Minister Lady Margaret Thatcher. When asked why bodies like the United Nations or even the U.S. Congress don't work effectively, she stated that each of these bodies seek consensus. And in her view, "Consensus is the negation on leadership." It is time for us to choose our next group of leaders. One can only hope that we choose wisely.

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