Every Congressional GOP candidate has a set of stock lines. This year GOP candidates like “I am running to change Washington and turn around President Obama’s failed policies”. Hmmm, I wonder what they really mean?
Iowa Senate candidate, Joni Ernst says it like this, “Are we going to stay on this path that President Obama and Congressman Braley (her opponent) set for us, which is higher unemployment, low participation rates in the workforce, weakened nation security, or do we make a change?”
What is Ms Earnst smoking? The economy is booming (doing well and relatively great compared to the last months of President Bush’s term) and unemployment is continuing to decline? In fact the American economy is the strongest and most respected in the world. And what’s this “participation rate” suppose to mean? Or for that matter, where is the evidence of weakened national security?
Other politicians and plenty of Super Pac ads castigate the President over healthcare and immigration too. The two most popular phrases are “repeal Obamacare” and “secure the boarders”. Most Americans still receive their health insurance through their employer and for the most part, this is unchanged. Why talk to them?
Immigration is even stranger to attack. During President Obama’s term more undocumented aliens have been deported than under any previous President. So many have been deported that Hispanics have toned down their support of President Obama.
National security, what’s that? How could getting bogged down longer in Afghanistan or re-entering Iraq or Syria help our national security? Does anyone remember the “cold war” and how long it lasted? Confronting well armed, ideologically differing nations, without committing American lives is a serious and challenging task.
So, what’s really going on?
Maybe 1% of those criticizing President Obama present valid arguments and deserve thoughtful responses. For the rest, we are hearing political double speak. Say one thing and mean another.
Former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney said it well. “47% of voters will not vote republican”, so let’s forget them and get the rest. How?
The GOP strategy is too (1) impede as many Hispanics and African Americans (assumed Democrat voters) as possible from reaching voting booths, and (2) remind everyone else that the real enemies standing in the way of the American dream are “lazy African Americans, selfish Union members, and undocumented workers.
Most Americans have no idea why there are no more jobs available but do recognize that most of the ones they come in contact with pay a very low wage. Who causes that? Why it must be illegal workers.
Healthcare is another example. Union members with Cadillac plans or low co-pays, or African Americans lining up to take free Medicaid are just causing the cost of coverage to increase for everyone else. And by the way, why should African Americans get free coverage when “I” have to pay? Why don’t those poor African Americans go out and get a job (just not mine)?
Raising national security is like using a shot gun. The gun’s discharge sprays widely and can hit many targets. First, increasing the defense budget can bring jobs to many Congressional districts. Paying for these new jobs can come from cutting the social safety net which, of course, means reducing support for immigrants and African Americans. Sending Americans to war, on the other hand, would offer employment for these same poor struggling Americans.
Second, for politicians, wars are good. Wars spread fear and support the notion of “not changing horses in the middle of a riverr”. Conflicts provide fodder for political hyperbola. And the best part, wars are complicated and finding someone in Congress at fault is near impossible.
At the end of the day, there is no good way to assess President Obama’s policies during his term. For sure, all of his policies could be made better. And maybe some ought to be changed or replaced with another approach.
Hearing the charge “Obama’s failed policies”, instead ought to evoke an outcry “AND WHAT EXACTLY WOULD YOU HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY”.
The nature of political discussions these days does not seem to lead to that type of question. Unfortunately, political discussion does not encompass how the country can break the poverty cycle, or find a path to health care costs like Europe’s, or carry out foreign policy in the 21st Century.
Picking on the underdogs and spreading fear, which have worked through out American political history still seem the best tactics.