The Starbuck's Seven discuss the next President
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by Ron Cruger
        Dick was fidgety. He was usual a little tense on the days that the Starbuck’s Seven met, but on this day he had that “look of the eagle.” Part of him was already thinking of the meeting and how he should lead the group on this all important topic. He had already notified the members by e-mail that the discussion would center on the soon-to-be-held presidential election, only a few weeks ahead.
        Sixty-five year old Dick arrived at Starbuck’s at the mall twenty minutes before the allotted time. He ordered his usual tall, strong black coffee and walked to the patio area where he pushed two square tables together, making a rectangle. Then he gathered seven chairs and placed them around the rectangle.
        He took a deep breath, sipped from his cup of strong coffee and waited for the half dozen other members of the Starbuck’s Seven.
        Helaine, the fifty-year old tall, graceful, liberal, was the first to be greeted by Dick. He shook her hand as she went to the counter to order her cappuccino. Then came Mary, thirty-nine years old with a great sense of history. She ordered her usual caramel macchiato.
        Steve walked in, ordered his expresso. Steve, the forty- three year old black ex-college athlete likes President Obama, but realizes his weaknesses. Aimee, the thirty-four - year old Asian ordered a caffe latte. Helen, fifty-two years old, tall, thin and perhaps the smartest of the group, ordered a caffe mocha. I was the last to arrive. I’m older than the rest and enjoy the “back and forth” of political discussions. I ordered my usual small decaf.
        As soon as the six members of the group had their drinks and sat, Dick stood and said, “Today we are going to discuss who should be elected president of the United States. A serious and worthy topic that becomes more important with each passing day. Steve, why don’t you start us off.”
        Steve was prepared. He had a yellow pad, filled with notes in front of him. It was important to Steve to be fair and accurate – a reminder of his days as a college football referee. “You all know that I voted for Barack. I like the guy and I think he’s done a good job as president. I also know that there are some areas that he hasn’t done the job. I feel that he hasn’t properly communicated with millions of Americans about what his plan for the nation is. I don’t believe for a second that he’s trying to turn the country into some socialist heaven. I do think that some people get the wrong idea when he talks about giving all Americans greater opportunity to achieve their dreams. They say he wants to take money from the rich and give it to the poor. That’s an easy ‘catch phrase,’ but that isn’t what he’s attempting to do. I do believe that what the president wants to do is build a middle class, giving the poorer class an opportunity to move into the middle class.”
        Mary couldn’t wait to speak. She slid her caramel macchiato towards the middle of the table and said, “Steve, I know you honestly believe what you just said, but you have to look at the truth. I think what Obama is trying to do is create an oligarchy. He says one thing and does another. If he really wants Americans to believe him he has to follow through on some of his promises – like he promised to crack down on the bankers who were using phony practices as they foreclosed on underwater homeowners. The results of all that fancy talk was that the banks and Wall Street got a gentle slap on the wrist and gave only a token assistance to the homeowners. The president is like all the politicians. He delivers what the bankers and hedge-fund managers want. And to top it all, we are accumulating the biggest debt in the history of the world and we are increasing it at the rate of 150 million dollars an hour. All of this is disgraceful. That’s why I think Mitt Romney should be elected our new president.”
        Aimee, whose father is one of the richest men in Hong Kong, is a staunch conservative. She listened carefully to what Mary presented, then replied, “Under President Obama the government has gone absolutely crazy. Did you know that there are 1,271 different government organizations that work on government programs related to counterterrorism and homeland security. Our government spent $100,000 on a “Celebrity Chef Fruit Promotion Road Show in Indonesia. The National Institute of Health paid researchers $400,000 to find out why gay men in Argentina engage in risky sexual behavior when they are drunk. Now get this one, the federal government spends 25 billion dollars a year maintaining federal buildings that are either unused or totally vacant. All of this is just the tip of the iceberg. I want a president who will stand up to the people who are spending all of our tax dollars and say ‘Enough is enough, we’re stopping the nonsense.’ That’s why I say Mitt Romney should be our next president ; he’s a businessman, he understands budgets and careful spending.”
        Helen was prepared. She had spent the previous week readying her thoughts for today. “Personally, I think that the problems facing the president and Congress are monumental. No matter how often it’s brought up, and we’re tired of hearing it, it’s true that Barack Obama was left with a failing financial situation and a brutal recession. In truth, he’s done a pretty fair job of slowing the recession and unemployment. We’re a long ways from the situation being fixed, but the President has done some good things. One of the big problems that is growing is the increase of global terrorism and the march of militant extremist Islam around the world. This and our economy are the United States’ most pressing problems and they will continue to be enormous problems for years, if not decades, to come. As much as Mitt Romney criticizes the President I seriously doubt if his election would cause much of a difference in what is happening in our country. The one thing that disturbs me is Obama’s strategy of massive government spending and borrowing is perhaps the most extreme economic plan in the nation’s history. It is still early, but we must see if the spending will increase employment and correct the country’s economic slide downward.”
        Helaine could hardly wait for her turn to speak. “To me, the most important thing we face is whether or not we will be involved in a war in the Middle East. I think the president is doing the right thing in not drawing that ‘red line’ in the sand regarding Iran. I don’t think Americans want to be involved in a ground war. Period. The other important factor we face is whether or not a President Romney or a President Obama, can get Congress to work in a bipartisan way. President Obama has not been able to get the Democrats and Republicans to work together and that has harmed our country. Important legislation has stalled. Not many talk about it but the emergence of the Tea Party inside the Republican Party has caused and will cause even larger problems in the future. It all depends on how much the Republican party is going to allow their party to become an ultra- conservative factor in the country. Perhaps the country needs a change. Perhaps Mitt Romney can be the catalyst for a more positive attitude in the country. It’s a close call.”
        And then Dick looked at me and nodded his head, indicating my thoughts should be presented.
        “I’ve listened to each of you. Remarkably well-thought-out points. I think that the country is divided. Those that dislike the President have strong feelings that he should be removed from office. The growing strength of the ultra- conservative Tea Party inside the Republican Party will certainly cause a change in the goals and actions of our government. I haven’t heard a clear direction that Mitt Romney would take if he were president. I have some reservation about a President Romney bowing to the ultra conservatives in order to get elected. I think that President Obama has not fully proven his ability to correct the problems existing in the country, but I also have no sure knowledge that removing him from office and replacing him with Mitt Romney would be the answer to our problems. This being the case I would have to vote for President Obama to remain in office to finish what he has started.”
        Dick took the final sip of his strong coffee and stood to say, “Boy, oh, boy. What problems our country faces. This is going to be one helluva election. I just hope that all Americans will take the time to vote. It could be close and everyone’s vote is going to be important. God bless America and thanks to each of you.”