Republicans and conservatives, including myself, made the assumption that the many failures of Obama’s first term were self-evident
All the Wrong Assumptions
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“I see this election of Obama as an ugly puss-filled boil and it has to get to a painful point where it will be lanced so it can heal.”
This quote pretty much represents the feelings of millions of Republicans and conservatives, and of the many people who have written to me these past three days. Depression is both an emotional and economic term and it is the prevailing mood among those of us still astonished—shocked—by the reelection of President Obama.
With 20-20 hindsight, it is clear that a lot of us, including myself, made a lot of wrong assumptions about the perceptions of Obama that were held by various demographic elements of the population. He did well among Hispanics and, of course, among Blacks. He did well among single women.
One bright piece of news is that among younger voters, 18 to 29, the President saw the highest defection rate from his margin of support in 2008, a six percentage point decrease. That may be an indication of how the 2014 midterm elections will go. By then, it is likely a lot of Obama voters will conclude they were fooled again. Mostly, though, Obama did well enough among those who voted for him in 2008 to retain his job for four more years.
In the end, his “majority” win was by a mere 2% in a sharply divided nation.
My assumptions that an unemployment rate of eight percent, the increase of six trillion dollars to an insane national debt now two trillion in access of the annual Gross Domestic Product, the rejection of Obamacare that gave rise to the Tea Party movement, his war on energy, and a host of other factors for removing him from office were wrong.
Most certainly the scions of the Republican Party woke up with a terrific headache as the result of their wrong assumptions. In 2008 Republicans selected a former war hero, John McCain, who had a record of seeking compromise with Democrats in the Senate. He was overwhelmed by the massive mainstream media adoration of Obama. This time around, Republicans selected Mitt Romney, a man of character and one with all the right credentials to set the economy on a path to recovery. He waged a cautious campaign and, in hindsight, one that was too cautious, too polite.
The Republican Party, however, missed the message of the nation’s changing demographics. When I was growing up in the ‘40s and ‘50s, the GOP was largely seen as a party of the wealthy. They were the members of country clubs and, as a new generation of seriously conservative leaders took over, their one spectacular victory was Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. Reagan possessed solid conservative views and restored the economy after inheriting the failures of Jimmy Carter.
For reasons I never understood, voters switched course and gave Bill Clinton two terms, the second of which saw him impeached, but not removed from office. Clinton, however, knew how to compromise. After asserting conservative values, the 1994 elections gave Republicans control of the Congress. Clinton, however, participated in welfare reform and other programs, later taking credit for them. By his second term, I could not bear to see or hear him. The Lewinski affair was a stain on his presidency and nobody seemed to care.
George W. Bush might have been a reliable Republican President, focusing on the economy and other conservative issues, but his two terms were transformed by 9/11 and resulted in two wars; one in Afghanistan which should have been short, and one in Iraq that, in retrospect, was ill advised. Americans grew weary of war and that opened the door for Barack Obama.
Republicans and conservatives, including myself, made the assumption that the many failures of Obama’s first term were self-evident. His focus on passing Obamacare and the politically brutal way it was imposed by a Democrat-controlled Congress that didn’t even read the bill seemed to cry out for a defeat in 2012.
The scandal of “Fast and Furious” in which guns were allowed to cross the border for use by Mexican drug cartels was, I thought, surely going to offend Mexican-Americans and other Hispanics. It didn’t. It was largely ignored by the mainstream media and covered up by a claim of executive privilege that went unchallenged.
His failure to accept the recommendations of the Simpson-Bowles Commission on the means to avoid further debt was yet another reason I thought people would realize that he wasn’t merely indifferent to the rising national debt and deficits, but welcomed them as a way to reduce America as a world power.
When the U.S. credit rating was reduced for the first time in our history I thought people would be concerned. They weren’t. How many saw the looming financial crisis, captured perfectly in the automatic budget cuts of the sequestration mandate?
For years I have warned about the debasement of our educational system and no one seemed to care. While China turns out hundreds of engineering graduates there has been a diminishing, inadequate stream here in the U.S. Other nation’s children have been scoring higher on tests than our own for years and there was neither notice, nor outcry.
And for four years under Obama, while the unemployment rate soared, job creation hit new lows, the economy fell to an anemic rate of recovery, food stamp use increased, household income fell, gas prices rose, and general poverty rates increased, none of this seemed to matter as the President continued to repeat and repeat the tired, empty rhetoric of his 2008 campaign.
Throughout his term, the number of federal regulations continued to climb, adding 11,327 pages; a 7.4 percent increase from January 1, 2009 to December 31, 2011. You don’t solve economic problems by strangling small, medium and large business and industry in America, but it didn’t register with those who voted for him on November 6th.
Republicans, conservatives, and many independent voters assumed these issues would resonate with a majority of the electorate, but they did not. They were ignored. In California, among the most heavily taxed citizens in the nation, they approved more taxes.
The question must be asked whether the Obama voters were just not smart enough to pay attention to the past four years or not smart enough to understand what he was doing?
The assumption was that a majority of Americans would reject four years of failure and, it must be said, four years of lies.
Our assumptions were wrong.
© Alan Caruba, 2012