When President Obama made the assertion that he is no ideologue, he was correct in terms of policy; however, he is most certainly an ideologue in his political views. Throughout his Presidency, Obama has made errors that his near flawless run for office would have never suggested possible. It is easy to assume he is simply inept; however, there is another explanation for his lack of skillfulness when it comes to dealing with public relations. If Obama’s “missteps” are framed, such that, they reflect what a national leaders would do if our political system ran on actual bipartisan efforts, quality ideas, practical polices shaped by honest ideologies and discussion, statesmenship versus political pandering, and a legislative process lead by Congress, Obama’s public affairs performance would be quite suitable.
Unfortunately, the campaign trail does not end on the steps of Capitol Hill where it should while being in power is more important to our representatives than running our Country, thus Obama’s aspirational approach to politics is quite detrimental. Americans scream for policies that offer immediate satisfaction and too often vote for the politicians who come up with the best slogans. Right now, pork may be out of style, but bringing home the bacon in terms of promising voters the Moon continues to be part of our political system. Of course, this time around voters are attracted to the guys with the simplest “solutions” to their biggest issue: the economy.
Given their no government approach to governing, their willingness to throw around tax cuts, and their free market approach, Republicans have a real edge over Democrats in terms of simplicity and bluster, i.e. it is easy to claim government action actually hurt the economy when there will always be government action to fix the big private sector mishaps. Unfortunately, the Obama stimulus bill, as well as the second George W. Bush stimulus bill, was not sufficient to do all that things Americans expected it to do, which experts did expect. More importantly, private consumer spending did not take over once government spending began to wane, which economists expected as was the case in previous recessions, because Americans were already over leveraged and underpaid going into the Great Recession while there has also been a significant increase in the savings rate of Americans. Coupled with incentives to outsource jobs left over from the Bush Administration, as well as a lack of corporate spending and restrictions on credit, the US economy is not able to produce the one thing American’s really care about, i.e. jobs.
Given the fact Democrats campaign on economic planks in favor of the Middle Class, which generally more Americans do better under Democratic economic policies, while Democrats hold both the Houses and the Executive branch, Americans expected jobs to be the one issue Obama would solve right away. Despite the ill-effects of Republican policies continuing to cycle through our economy, Democrats are seen as the failure. This is, of course, reinforced by the Obama Administration’s policies being designed to benefit us more in the long-term than the short-term; something most people do not respond well too.
Furthermore, the GOP has built its image around rapid economic growth, though that growth is usually seen at the top whether or not everyone else benefits. Meanwhile, Republicans can always say under the Clinton Administration, bipartisan efforts helped both reduce the deficit and create economic growth. Of course, this Congress is built on a severely polarized electorate. In addition, tax cuts may be fashionable and easy solutions, but they will not work to fix the economy or reduce the National Debt this time around. There are far too few well paying jobs and far too much of a tax burden on the Middle Class with little incentive for business to invest in America, especially when there are so many more opportunities to make so much more in emerging markets. In addition, we must remember Social Security, which is solvent for quite some time, and Medicare will now begin to pay out more than they collect, thus the true nature of our National Debt , which was built on decades of fiscal irresponsibility by policies of both parties, will be revealed and the Clinton solutions with not work.
(Cancelling Medicaid and Medicare, as some would like, would either require us to deprive most seniors of life sustaining medical care, or shift a larger debt onto young Americans by doubling the Social Security and Medicare taxes with no benefit, i.e. the added funding for winding down these programs must be piled onto the National Debt which would be absorbed by all tax payers without employer contributions.)
From the Obama-Biden team’s scolding remarks to the Democrats outright slander of opponents, though the same is true of GOP candidates as well, this season has pushed incumbents to some very poor campaigning strategies, thus offering critics even greater fader than normal. Attacking Republicans, or Fox news, will simply not work nor will promising more spending or tax relief. Democrats, moderate Republicans, and independents can gain support if they show they are capable of addressing the National Deficient and Debt without causing greater economic troubles, cutting taxes intelligently, and working to reduce spending in significant ways without undermining the functions of government. Democrats can do this in districts where voters are not simply voting for change of leaderships, and/or representation, by forcing opponents to give up details on how they will govern.
Often, many views on the economy are ill-conceived to the point that when they are fully considered there are terrible consequences to the majority of Americans. The problems is that humans tend to react to what they perceive immediately affects them, which may not necessarily be a wise course of action. Democrats need to avoid focusing on their weak successes, which really have not come to fruition as many of their policies are long-term solutions, and obsessing over the Bush years. Not embracing the failures of their policies is something all voters will find offensive, yet it is the Democratic base and independents who will embrace honesty to the point they will consider the failures of proposed policies on both sides. In other words, Democrats need to quite trying to be so negative and bipartisan on the campaign trail. In addition, turning the mid-term elections into a national campaign is a problem for incumbents, thus vilifying figures like House minority leader John Boehner into the enemy is a big mistake.
Instead, they must find ways to demonstrate how Democratic policies will move our Country toward an even more successful economy where jobs can be the focus of economic growth while carefully reminding Americans of what Republican policies would do to the Country, which, yes, the Bush years can be sparingly referenced by candidates to refute GOP attacks with successes that have happened. Meanwhile, Democrats need more outside groups to do their dirty work, as the Republicans have been able to do this election cycle. In regards to the Clinton economy, Democrats need to use the popular former President to both energize voters and describe where GOP economic policies are faulted. Of course, Democrats also need to localize elections, so the over generalized attacks of this Republicans cannot be used on independents; this is distinct to each district, but all Democrats need to use more constructive methods, i.e. show a path forward. In other words, don’t tell voters it takes time for change and/or the other guys have worst ideas; demonstrate a vision where America can once against become economically strong.