Lloyd Waters: Piano player or politician? A tough choice

October 28, 2012|By LLOYD WATERS

“My choice in life was either to be a piano player in a whorehouse or a politician. And to tell the truth, there’s hardly any difference.”

Those words were spoken by Harry S Truman back in his day. Maybe he was on to something.

Our election is coming down to the wire, and your vote is important. Our future awaits us at the fork in the road.

Yogi Berra’s advice: “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

Even if you believe that the election will be determined by the states of Ohio, Virginia and Florida; even if you believe your vote doesn’t mean anything; and even if you agree with President Truman’s analogy, you still need to cast your vote.

The choices between the presidential candidates are quite different.

President Obama has been acting a little like Truman.

In 1948, Truman pulled out a surprise victory over Thomas Dewey, the Republican candidate who was the heavy favorite to win. Truman’s visits to many towns by railroad probably earned him the election.

Will Obama’s election results be similar?

Once elected in 1949, Truman outlined his domestic vision for our nation. Following in the footsteps of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, Truman suggested that every American should have a future in our country. He proposed a “Fair Deal” and economic prosperity for all Americans.

There are some similarities between those ideas of Truman in 1949 and those of President Obama today.

Truman’s “Fair Deal” included universal health care for all Americans; a minimum wage increase and full employment; and all Americans would have equal rights in many specific areas.

The last four years under President Obama have been most eventful. Our economic chaos has become the country’s primary concern, but some serious foreign policy issues have also occupied his plate.

Although Truman’s bold initiative to continue many of Roosevelt’s New Deal policies with many more under his Fair Deal proposals, a major conservative block of the Congress would defeat much of his agenda.

The Republicans question to the public back in the late ’40s about Truman, “Have you had enough?”

The call for universal health care during Truman’s presidency, just like today, was attacked by conservatives who were urging a lesser role for the federal government.

“Have you had enough?” might be the same question Republicans are asking today.

It should be pretty obvious that our current system of providing health care is leading us to a path of economic insolvency. Whether the proposed plan of universal health care offered by President Obama is a cure-all and solves more health care problems than it creates remains to be seen.

Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate, has touted his business experience as qualifications to become the next president. He vows to repeal Obamacare and to reduce the growth of government.

Romney’s rhetoric suggests he will make government more efficient, reduce the national debt and abolish a health care plan that he apparently does not see working as it should.

As a voter, your objective is reasonably simple — select the proper candidate who can achieve those results that really strive to make our country better for all Americans.

The successful candidate will be dealing with Iran soon.  Consider that when you vote as well.

Who is the best leader for our country? You will help decide.

As for Truman, when he left office in 1952, he was one of the most unpopular presidents of his day. But not very long afterward, his popularity rose and his many presidential achievements were recognized.

Being from Dargan, I always liked Truman’s “Straight Talk” approach. In that regard, he provided a last line to the quote at the beginning of this column.

“I, for one, believe the piano player job to be much more honorable than current politicians.”

I wonder if Truman might think the same today.

Lloyd “Pete” Waters is a Sharpsburg resident who writes columns for The Herald-Mail.

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