Thomas Sowell for VP
By John D. Turner
5 Apr 2008

Gold continues to track above $900/ounce. The dollar continues to fall relative to the world’s currencies. And while the government continues to insist that inflation remains low, those of us out here in the real world who have to gas up our vehicles every week and purchase groceries beg to differ as those two activities continue to eat up even greater percentages of our paycheck every month.

At over $4.00/gallon for diesel fuel, the nation’s truckers are being pushed to the edge. Independent truckers, who make up around 90% of the nation’s trucking fleet, are talking about going on “strike”, parking their trucks in protest to send a message to the federal government and the major oil companies that enough is enough and this has got to stop. As of now, this sentiment is being spread by word of mouth via internet blogs and CB radios; the Owner-Operator Independent Driver’s Association has not called for a strike. However as pressure mounts, it is possible that we could see a major shutdown of trucking across the country, with the associated chaos that would produce nationwide.

A Google Search on “Trucker Strike” returns around 1.5 million hits. You only have to look at a few pages worth of links to see that this is an issue that is definitely heating up. Keep in mind that most of what you buy, from food to fuel itself is moved by truck, and imagine what might happen if that flow of goods were to stop for a week or two or three. You might want to consider stocking up on a few items!

The housing meltdown continues, and threatens other sectors of the financial industry including consumer credit. Job creation has slowed, as has the government’s measure of the gross national product (GNP). Even the Fed chairman, Ben Bernanke, is saying that “the U.S. economy will not grow much in the first half of 2008, and could even contract.” This is what is known as a “recession” even if the Fed chairman is a bit chary of using the “R” word.

However, according to the latest Labor Department numbers, non-farm employment fell by 80,000 jobs last month, the biggest drop in five years. This is the third straight month in which jobs have declined. Unemployment has risen from 4.8% to 5.1%. All indications are that whether or not the government wants to use the “R” word, and smack dab in the middle of a national election cycle you can expect that they would not want to do so, we are in one nonetheless.

Overseas, some are bypassing the “R” word and predicting the arrival on U.S. shores, for the first time since the 1930’s, the appearance of the “D” word instead; depression. For most of us, depression is something we might take Prozac or Zoloft for. It’s something we may have studied in high school under the topic of ancient history; not something we have ever actually experienced in our lifetimes, although we may know someone who has; remember those stories we heard from our grandparents about walking to school barefoot in the snow, uphill in both directions?

Not surprisingly, the current economic picture has prompted many to focus on economic problems and less on the continuing war in Iraq. It has long been a political maxim that “people vote their pocketbooks.” And with those pocketbooks under serious assault from multiple attack vectors, the electorate is beginning to hunker down and look for solutions to the current economic mess.

This is somewhat disconcerting to Democrats, who have based their entire campaign on withdrawal from Iraq, and now have to do a ninety degree shift to redirect their message to a totally different topic. It is somewhat disconcerting to Republicans as well. They have selected a candidate who is strong when it comes to military issues, national defense, and the on-going war on Islamo-fascism (or whatever we are calling it this week), but demonstrably weak when it comes to economic issues. In fact, McCain has been quoted as saying “I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues. I still need to be educated.”

McCain however, now states that his education is complete. He was in government during the Reagan revolution, and has a copy of Greenspan’s book. There. That should do it; experience akin to being the wife of the President of the United States during his two terms in office, no doubt.

As one might expect, this worries some in the Republican Party, who no doubt rightly expect that this issue will come back to haunt him during the national campaign after the Democrats finally coalesce around whomever eventually wins their nomination process.

In an effort to diffuse this problem, a glaring weakness in what now promises to be one of the main, if not the main issue of the coming campaign, many have suggested that Mr. McCain pick Mr. Romney as his running mate. Romney has an excellent track record in business, and it is thought by many that this will add the necessary economic credentials to the ticket that it currently lacks.

There’s just one problem. At the end of the day, Mitt is still a Mormon. And the anti-Mormon forces, who were successful at derailing his candidacy, simply won’t let that one go. Witness the recent “No Mitt for Vice President” coalition that has recently sprung up, launching a preemptive strike against him via an open letter signed by more than 20 leading social conservatives, expressing “concern” that if Mitt is on the ticket, “many social conservative voters will consider their values repudiated by the Republican Party and will either stay away from the polls this November or only vote down ticket.” Apparently, despite his expertise in economic matters, Mitt is “too liberal” for them to stomach.

OK, fine. I agree. I really don’t want to see Mitt on the ticket either, although my reasons are quite a bit different. I think it would be a disaster. I take the anti-Mitt coalition at their word. I really do think they would withhold their vote, and that means that almost certainly we would end up with Clinton or Obama residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for at least four years.

And it would most probably be the end of the line for any political ambitions Mitt Romney might still have for the future. I think the best thing he could do at this point is to move back to Michigan and run for governor there; but that is a different topic for a different time.

Indeed, America is most definitely not ready for a Mormon in the White House, or as VP for that matter. Fortunately for me, it is not necessary for the presidential nominee or his VP to be a member of my church before I will vote for them. My maturity level is such that I don’t feel the need to pick up my marbles and go home if I don’t get my way, although I might rail against it a bit, as I did in a previous article.

So although I find myself revolted at whom the party has chosen for its candidate this time around, probably as much or even more so as those who expressed their distaste for Romney in their recent full-page ads across the nation, I will most probably find myself voting for him in the November elections, simply because the alternatives are so bad.

But back to the primary issue, the economy; an issue that John McCain is not qualified to address. It is also an issue that needs desperately to be addressed, as it is an issue that could sink his campaign quicker than firing a cannon through the bottom of a rowboat. Historically, the party of a sitting president does not win an election when the economy is in the tank. For the Democrats to lose this election will take some spectacular effort on their part coupled with some spectacular expertise on the part of the Republicans.

So who would be a creditable VP candidate that the Republicans could draft that would bring some “economic gravitas” as it were, to the ticket?

How about something unconventional? How about someone who is not a politician, yet who is well known and respected? How about someone like Dr. Thomas Sowell?

Dr. Sowell is the Rose and Milton Friedman Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, California. He has a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Chicago. He has taught at many prestigious schools, including Stanford University, UCLA, Amherst College, Brandeis University, Cornell University, Howard University, and Rutgers University. He was a Labor Economist at the U.S. Department of Labor. He is a syndicated columnist, writing for Jewish World Review and, to name a few. He has written many books and papers on the subjects of economics, education, ideas and ideology, and race and ethnicity. Though many call him “conservative”, he considers himself (as do I) more libertarian than conservative. I have no doubt that he can be considered “conservative enough” to satisfy most on the right. I also have no doubt that he could hold his own in any political debate.

Oh yes, and he also happens to be an American of African descent.

Whether or not Dr. Sowell would want to be VP is a different question and one only Dr. Sowell could possibly answer. However, I think we could do a lot worse than choose him for the ticket. It certainly would set a radically different direction in selecting a VP, something so different from the “business as usual” norm of Washington politics that it would certainly qualify as “change”. Perhaps such a move might prove efficacious in swaying the vote of younger voters who are becoming increasingly disenchanted with the “same-old same-old” inside the beltway; those same voters who have latched onto Obama for no better reason than a perception that “he’s different.”

Some might argue that since the VP candidate must be able to take over for the President in the event of his or her incapacitation, that it might be a good thing for the candidate to have some actual experience running something; experience that would showcase their qualifications to hold the highest office in the land. But then again, the lack of such qualifications for both of the candidates for President on the Democrat ticket would seem to belie that argument. Dr. Sowell is a pretty smart guy; I think he would rise to the occasion should such be thrust upon him.

McCain/Sowell for 2008! Has sort of a ring to it, don’t you think?