Tuesday, October 25, 2011

You Must Remember This

It's 31 years ago now.  I remember the moment exactly, driving home from work in the summer of 1980.  Ted Kennedy was delivering "The Dream Shall Never Die" speech, and it terrified me.  How could the lightweight Ronald Reagan ever win against rhetoric like that?

The answer then, and probably now as well, is that Americans aren't persuaded by left-liberal class warfare rhetoric.  It makes them want to upchuck.  And anyway, back then the "lightweight" Ronald Reagan beat incumbent President Carter in a landslide, and went on to become America's most beloved and successful president since whenever.

That's what David Brooks is saying today in "The Fighter Fallacy."  It is one thing to promise big government when Americans trust government, and back in the middle of the last century, about 70 percent did.  Today, "only 15 percent of Americans asked said that they trust the federal government to do the right thing most of the time."  Writes Brooks:
This is a problem for Democrats. But Democrats can win elections in this climate if they defuse the Big Government/Small Government ideological debate.
Bill Clinton did it with the Third Way, and snuck a bunch of liberal policies through.  Barack Obama did it in 2008 as the post-partisan candidate.  Then he governed as the left-liberal president.

After the 2010 election Obama tried compromise with the Republicans (he did?) but it didn't work.  So now he is running as a fighter.
If Obama were a Republican, he could win with this sort of strategy: Repeat your party’s most orthodox positions and then rip your opponent to shreds. Republicans can win a contest between an orthodox Republican and an orthodox Democrat because they have the trust in government issue on their side.
In other words, "The Dream Shall Never Die" won't work today either.

And then there are the facts, or rather the myths.  John Hawkins has an article on five myths the Occupy crowd believe in.  He does it well, but I've boiled it down further.

  1. Wall Street Created Housing Bust. Oh no kiddies. The government did it.  They told banks to lend to bad credit risks or they might have an "accident."  Now the whole economy had an accident.
  2. Obama hates Wall Street.  Yeah, I've got a bridge to sell you.
  3. Iraq War created deficit.  CBO says war cost $709 billion.  Doesn't seem so big any more after the bailouts and stimuli.
  4. GOP wants to kill SoSec, Medicare. However much GOP hates old people, there's a $100 trillion hole there that won't get filled by class warfare.
  5. Tax the Rich. Sorry chum.  Not enough money there to make a difference.
The Occupy chappies also believe the government should forgive their $1 trillion in student debt.  Sounds like a real vote winner among the young set.  But probably poison to the other 99 percent.

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