Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Elephant in the Room

Most of the American political rhetoric this year has little or nothing to do with the problems that ail the US.  The most important issue facing the country hasn't really been discussed at all.   That fact probably has a lot to do with why Donald Trump is the Republican nominee.

The last Republican candidate to understand the big issue in American life was Ronald Reagan. He rarely if ever discussed the kinds of issues that dominated the 2016 Republican primary.  For Reagan, getting the mighty American economic engine going again was his central campaign them. That's why he beat George Bush in the Republican primary race, who referred to Reagan's views as "voodoo economics."

Reagan ran against incumbent President Jimmy Carter (and the American media) in the general election, defeating Carter soundly.  He ran in a positive manner, but ran in an environment of the mediocre economic growth of the 1970s.  And Reagan made the most of it.

Reagan proposed sweeping regulatory reform and lower and simpler personal income taxes.  When elected, Reagan delivered on both.

Reagan spent no time criticizing his opponents.  He projected a vision to get economic growth going again.  He won and he delivered.

Contrast Reagan's approach to that of Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, John Kasich and the raft of failed Republican presidential aspirants.  None of these folks devoted much campaign time to the need to get the American economic engine going again, even though they ran amidst an environment of the worst economic recovery in American history and ever-declining living standards for the average American.

The average Republican could not relate to the campaigns of the sixteen non-Trump candidates.  That should not come as such a surprise.  Americans are mostly worried about economic issues.

So, the average Republican voters drifted over to a reality-show candidate who kept saying "Let's make America great again."  Interestingly, that was exactly the same slogan used by Ronald Reagan in his successful 1980 campaign for president.

Maybe the voters were hearing some hope in that slogan for themselves.  Tired of the sluggish economy and the timid Republican Congressional response to the Obama onslaught on the economy, the average Republican voters likely voted for Trump because only Trump held out the possibility of trying to deal with economic malaise that the US economy has faced since 2000.

This hope for a better economy and the hope for someone who might reverse the declining living standards brought on by years of Democratic Congressional Rule capped by the Obama economic policy nightmares, might just provide the path for a Trump route to the presidency.  We shall see.

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