BBHQ Boomer Essays:
|Our Boomer-In-Charge here at BBHQ, Hershel Chicowitz, writes frequently about current events... from a boomer perspective. He is sometimes funny, sometimes provocative, sometimes a little of each. We hope you get a kick out of our Boomer Essays.|
Most national elections are statements of rejection rather than affirmation.
Exceptions are rare, though profound.
During the presidential campaign of 1980, Ronald Reagan stated clearly, simply, and specifically what he, and therefore the Republican party, stood for. The public provided for him a landslide victory, based on his ideas more than against Jimmy Carter. (Though Mr. Carter’s thoroughly inept administration was enough on its own.)
In 1994, Newt Gingrich turned a midterm election into a national referendum. “The Contract with America.” All politics was not local in 1994. The result was a stunning win for Republicans.
But those are the exceptions. In 1992, voters rejected George Bush, primarily because of the violation of his “no new taxes” pledge. George Bush was unreliable. And he didn’t know what a UPC bar code was. So, he was gone. (Though his family got their revenge eight years later.)
In 2008, the people were ready to throw anything connected to Bush ’43 out the window. In that case, the “anything” was John McCain and his party. So throw they did. Of course, Barack Obama’s speeches and demeanor (not to mention his race) were hypnotic and irresistible to many. But the wind beneath Barack Obama’s wings was the overt rejection of George Bush.
Two years later, the fickle public turned against the new messiah and his health care plan. Had they the opportunity, they would have rejected him then and there. Instead, they rejected his party, and the Republicans regained control of the House of Representatives.
(Two years later, the Obama campaign hid the failures of his administration and turned the election into a plebiscite of that uncaring, rich, out-of-touch Republican who tied his dog to the roof of his car, had “folders full of women,” and had killed people in need of health care. In 2012, the people rejected Mitt Romney more than they re-elected Barack Obama.)
And so it is this election season. The people are once again fed up with the failures of the Obama administration. So they will likely vote against it, and by association, its party’s nominees.
A rejection election.
That’s a shame. Elections should be about enthusiastically supporting the ideas, policies, performance, and the character of candidates. It should not about rejection — choosing one because you reject the other.
Unfortunately, both major parties have been embarrassingly devoid of admirable ideas, policies, performance, and the character of candidates. That is the real shame.
Making the Case: Democrats
For Democratic candidates, making the case should be easy:
Vote for us. We’ll give you stuff you did not earn; we’ll ensure you a comfortable standard of living, a guaranteed job with a “livable wage” (as we will define it), a house, a computer, free WiFi, free college tuition, food stamps, a cell phone and hundreds of minutes a month, a care-free retirement, and a chicken in every pot. (No, it was not Republican Herbert Hoover who promised that.) Oh, and reasonably-priced health care. Health-care is a right. Having a job, if you want one, is a right. A home is a right. A standard of living is a right. An education is a right. Why? Because we said so, that’s why. We will ensure your rights to all of these things.
You will not have to work if you do not want to. You will not be “job locked.” Free birth control; abortion on demand with no questions asked. (That, of course, is a “right,” too.) Unlimited (consensual) sex without consequences. Anybody can marry anybody. The family is not what it has been for thousands of years. It is whatever we feel it is at the moment. Laws and rules are not absolute. We will enforce them as we see fit.
We’ll open the doors of the shores and the airports to all who are “yearning to breathe free.”
Internationally, we will “lead from behind,” and slash military spending.
Unemployment payments stimulate the economy. The more the better.
Oh, and most important, we are going to stick it to the big Wall Street corporations and the filthy rich, greedy millionaires who have been gouging the public for decades. We will tax them mercilessly!
“If you own a business; you didn’t build that.”
“Don’t let anybody tell you it’s corporations and businesses that create jobs.” That’s what Democrats do!
The Constitution was written by a bunch of old, racist, rich slave-owners. It is obsolete.
Oh, and those wascally wepublicans... they want to throw grandma’ out on the street... or over the cliff.
Making the Case: Republicans
It’s a lot harder for Republican candidates, though it should not be. Sure they talk about freedom and reducing spending. But that’s mostly talk, too.
This season, it is mostly that Barack Obama’s policies have crippled the U.S. So don’t vote for my opponent, who supports Barack Obama. Vote for me.
And apparently, it is working.
A rejection election.
That, too, is a shame.
Making the case for freedom should, in principle, be easy.
Do you hear any candidate... Republican or not, expounding those ideas?
The case for freedom and opportunity is so simple, so clear, and so compelling. It ought to be easy for any articulate Republican to make the case.
But no. It is mostly, “Vote for me; I am against Barack Obama’s policies.”
What a sad shame.
Despite their lead in the polls this season, the Republicans have not been able to consistently make their case. They can’t close the deal.
The case for freedom and limited government remains illusive.
That’s a shame, too.
The Last Word
They get away with it, year after year, election after election... because we let them. We expect so little of them (except that they give us stuff)... and they continually live down to our lowest expectations.
And we pay the price... they don’t — they all reward themselves most handsomely. And we pay the price... lord, we all pay the price.
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