A friend posted a thought on my Facebook page which led to a friendly, but lively debate. He pointed out how in every election cycle, the incumbent, looking for a second term, blames any shortcomings experienced from their first term, onto the previous administration.
Clearly, this was meant as an indictment of President Obama and his recurrent message that he inherited a mess from President Bush that was not going to be solved in 4 years, but the Facebook post is worth examining.
While I see our President’s position as being completely relevant, I suppose it is fair to say that “blame” is the name of the game in politics.
Beyond the blame game, a closer look at campaigns reveals that presidential candidates run on the promise of restoring America to whatever virtue they can convince Americans the previous administration lacked.
As I looked back at elections throughout the past 100 years, however, I noticed that most centered on the economy. First term Presidents who brought about some economic buoyancy were generally elected to second terms; Clinton, Reagan, FDR, Eisenhower. Those who did not, were not; Carter, Bush Sr., Hoover.
And let’s not forget that George W. Bush saw an economic bounce in his first term from tax breaks and rebates. His undoing was his shortsightedness from simultaneously paying for two wars, and other policies, with less revenue and not realizing it was unsustainable. Ultimately, the people who would pay for this inequity would be those who could least afford to and spending collapsed.
He was warned by his own economic advisors that revenue was needed to pay for a decaying infrastructure and his continued deregulation of the finance sector exacerbated the vulnerability of Wall Street saddled with toxic assets when the housing market slowed.
America, however, did not see that invisible powder keg and elected him to a second term. Americans, for the most part, are not economists, and instead we vote on the rhetoric that fits into what we want to hear. And what we hear is usually determined by who spends the most money to make it heard.
The truth is our economy is what it is because of Republicans and Democrats. What’s more, Republicans, as well as Democrats have revived our economy throughout history. Until recent Republican obstructionist policy there haven’t been many legislative acts that did not have contributions from both sides; good and bad.
The two headed deregulator named Clinton/Greenspan played a large part in setting the table that the two headed derivative named Bush/Greenspan exploited which led to a Wall Street fire sale.
Plus, the opening of the subprime housing market was proposed by Democrats, but embraced enthusiastically by Republicans who saw the economic opportunities. When Freddie and Fannie imploded there was plenty of blame to go around; it just depended on which side you were on to point an accusing finger at the other.
And 30 years ago, there were plenty of Democrats jumping on the Trickle Down train that widened the gap between the rich and the poor.
Credit can be shared, as well as blame, because we have seen economic successes and failures with every administration, and economic policy is usually shared by both parties, even when authored by one.
Where am I going with this….?
We are voting on matters for which we have the least understanding. Americans are not experts in economics; we are not experts in foreign policy; we are not even experts in domestic policy. What we are, are experts of our own ideologies, and that should be the criteria we use to vote.
I am a Democrat and a Liberal because of ideological platforms that satisfy my personal sense of where I think America should be heading. Some of this “sense” is innate, I believe, but most of it is culled from my life experience and from what I understand from reading history and our constitution.
It all comes down to what we believe makes America great. I believe that America is great from its very design and there is greatness inherent in our fight for freedom and for human rights. It is from this foundation that I define my political ideologies and create the compass I use to determine where this nation should be heading.
This is also what motivates me to be politically active because I fear for the preservation of what I believe constitutes a great nation.
I believe that a great nation would not allow the health of its citizens to be commoditized and determined by profit margins.
I believe that a great nation understands that its Constitution, as a charter of freedom, stands for the rights of every single citizen to be protected with equal justice.
I believe that a great nation agrees that the quality of education for its children and standards for clean air and water must be mandated to ensure the health of future generations.
I think that a great nation collectively provides a safety net to catch those who have fallen, or who have not have the opportunities, or have not understood the way to prosperity.
A great and just nation will make every legal effort to contain the greed that can root itself into our free will.
I believe that a great nation knows that respect is not achieved through how loudly we boast of our greatness, but by the humility to lead with greatness.
I am DEEPLY concerned about the voices that I’ve heard from the FAR right, but now occupy the middle of the Republican Party, as well, that have controlled the national debate.
Voices that scream for Christian doctrine to uproot the First Amendment.
Voices that call for America to beat its chest in defiance of egalitarian principles in order to remind the world that “We don’t apologize!” (presumably, I guess, because we don’t make mistakes)
Voices that denigrate our government by calling it “socialist” when it provides programs to support the health and welfare of its most vulnerable citizens.
Voices that are conspiring, whether they know it or not, to manipulate our country into a plutocracy that insults the Republic that I cherish and believe in.
While I support President Obama’s overall accomplishments so far, including economic recovery, it is not his economic policy that I am standing behind. It is the direction of the Democratic party that he leads that continues to fight for people over corporations; for the civil rights of all of our citizens; environmental sanity; financial reform to protect our investments and future; and for the health and welfare of all Americans.
You can blame me all you want for that.